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"Lion Strike" aka "Ring of Fire III" begins with a friendly sparring match between Don "The Dragon" Wilson and another guy on the roof of his hospital ("what kind of doctor are you?"), which is interrupted by the escape attempt of an elderly mobster patient via helicopter. Wilson manages to stop the attempt and kill all the bad guys, but his friend also gets severely shot. Then this entire sequence is completely forgotten and never referenced again. I've rarely seen a more random and incoherent way to open a movie. If you get past the first 10 minutes, this is a fairly OK low-budget actioner. Wilson is in pretty good form, Bobbie Phillips (is it just me or does she look a bit like Angelina Jolie?) makes a charming and compatible sidekick for him (but gets only one real chance to show her moves), there are some spectacular stunts and some pretty woodsy/snowy locations. A film you can take or leave. ** out of 4.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Dr. Johnny Wu (The Dragon) is once again taking on the baddies in this
third (and, to date, final) entry in the Ring of Fire series. Johnny
and his son Bobby (Wilson's real-life son Jonathan) decide to take a
break and they drive into the country to relax at the cabin of a fellow
doctor. Unfortunately, this is really bad timing, as the Italian and
Russian mobs are joining forces to form an international criminal
alliance. Their first order of business now that they are teaming up
(and gathering lots of street thugs as foot soldiers to boot) is to get
some nukes, a ton of money, and a computer disc (what else?) with all
the important information baddies need to take over the world. By sheer
accident, Johnny Wu ends up with the disc, so, far from enjoying this
idyllic pastoral setting, he's kicking and punching his way through
wave after wave of goons who think they can beat him. Along the way, he
gets help from local park ranger Marla (Barish). Will the bad guys get
the disc? What will happen to Johnny and his son? Find out today...
Lion Strike (as it's simply called in its on-screen title) is a movie of two halves. The first half has that wacky, freewheeling style we always love. Common sense is thrown to the wind and there are plenty of nonsensically enjoyable moments. The second half is your standard beat-em-up, filled with brain-numbing action bits. The fact that there are no less than three credited directors for this movie may have something to do with its schizophrenic character. While the first half has a machine gun-toting grandpa, an exploding helicopter, angry punks that drive their motorcycles into a hospital, and Don's son mercilessly beating up a bag of popcorn while wearing a li'l leather jacket, among other delightful moments, the second half just has some punching and kicking. So to whoever directed the first half of this movie, kudos. To the director (s) of the second half...you should have done better to keep the momentum of the first half going.
Because this is a PM movie, after all, it has plenty of high-quality explosions, and its time-honored car stunt. And Michael Delano is in it. While criminals searching for "The Disc" has been seen in countless actioners, there are plenty of classic 90's moments on display, such as Don's first-generation cellular phone, and Bobby's bowl haircut, which no 90's tot could be without. And because Joe Pesci was huge in the 90's, there's a classic "annoying Italian guy" with a nasal voice named Vinny (Del Regno) ready to give him a run for his money. As in most Don movies, he gets shirtless for no reason. Moving on, there's also the tried-and-true final warehouse fight. The fact that this movie gives Don the opportunity to take on the Russians and the Italians, working in concert, among other goons, is somewhat novel.
Fan favorite Michael Jai White is in it for a very small amount of time, inexplicably playing a guy named Silvio. We definitely wanted to see more of him. Also, as in other Don movies, at least one of his titles is on-screen with him in the opening credits, but why is "World Kickboxing Champion" in quotes? Is he not really? So, in the end, fans of the PM style or Don The Dragon will enjoy this, but we wish the whole movie delivered on the promise of its first half.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
WARNING: Possible Spoilers
I wasn't too sure what to expect from this movie, as Don "The Dragon" Wilson is responsible for the original "Bloodfist", one of the most tedious and laughably cheap looking "martial arts" movies ever as well of a bunch of bad but fairly entertaining, or just plain bad Roger Corman produced flicks. However, this 1994 release from PM Entertainment is MUCH better and if you have 83 minutes you want to pass quick, then this is a worthwhile piece of 80's style entertainment.
Don "The Dragon" Wilson stars as Doctor Johnny Wu. Yes, it does seem awful odd to cast him as a doctor, but luckily you don't see much of that. He's about to go on holiday with his son up to a friends cabin in the mountains the same night. Meanwhile, a group of petty thieves break into the Mafia's basement and steal from the safe. They grab 2 bags from the corner which unfortunately for them, one contains a floppy diskette containing evidence which could put them down. The mafia catch them as they're escaping and a gunfight erupts, 3 get killed but the one with the money and the diskette manages to jump in a car and we get a typical PM Entertainment style high speed pursuit. If you've seen other PM movies such as "Rage" with Gary Daniels and "Executive Target" with Michael Madsen and Keith David then you know the score. Lots of vehicles crash and blow up without reason in a totally ridiculous but stupidly entertaining style. Eventually the one remaining petty thief crashes and the Mafia catch him, he refuses to let go of the bags. Meanwhile, Doctor Johnny Wu is on his way home from work and catches this and defends "Fingers", our petty thief. as the cops come, the Mafia leave the scene. An ambulance is called and "Fingers" is taken away. Meanwhile, Dr Johnny Wu picks up one of the bags which happens to be the one with the diskette and proceeds home. The other bag is brought into the ambulance. The Mafia then ambush the ambulance and find that the bag is not there, so they have problems. They then go to the home of Doctor Johnny Wu (how they found where he lives remains to be explained) and find out from his mother that he's spending the night with his son in a cabin up in the mountains. Meanwhile, Dr Johnny Wu has just met Kelly (Bobbie Philips), a female forest ranger who he spends the night with. She just leaves as the villains arrive and attack the cabin, his son manages to escape and is rescued by Kelly, who leaves him with an old friend of hers who lives locally. What follows is a cat and mouse game between the villains and Johnny Wu and Kelly. I won't spoil the rest for you, but you'll already have worked out that the good guys win.
Visually, the scenery is nice and much more importantly looks A LOT better than the Roger Corman produced Don "The Dragon" Wilson movies. The fight choreography is WAY better and at times looks rather impressive and a lot more convincing than the big budget Hollywood drivel ripped off from The Matrix, full of computer generated effects, slow motion and stunt doubles. The villains are all rather typical action movie villains who make tons of silly mistakes. The scene where he directed one towards a bear trap claiming the disk was there was pretty damn funny to say the least, many others shoot frantically at nothing, get crept up on and beaten up. Sound familiar? Well it is, but it's fun, moves quickly and if you like plain old 80's style action, I can almost assure you you'll watch this from beginning to end.
Nobody is going to win any awards for their acting but let's be honest, did you expect an oscar winning performance in a movie like this? I wasn't, and was able to accept what I got as nothing was outrageously bad.
If you're into an easy to follow, pass the time movie with non stop 80's style action then this will do nicely. In no way a cinematic masterpiece, but an incredibly fun dumb action flick for a Friday night.
This movie is more of a showcase for Don "The Dragon" Wilson to beat people up more than anything else. The fight scenes were fun, but everything else really suffered. Some of the dialog between Wilson and his son (who was incredibly annoying) was so stupid I felt embarrassed for them. There are even two fight scenes toward the beginning that have nothing to do with the film except to show people gettin' the snot kicked out of them. The Russian mobster was so sadistic about being called Boris, it was hilarious. All in all, it was an okay watch the first time around, but I wouldn't want to watch it again.
Don Wilson kicks the s**t out of some cardboard character b-movie villains (Russian mob, American mob, garden variety street thugs) and delivers some stultifying dialogue with the brain-dead child playing his son (ominously with the same last name) and Natalie Barish, who plays a Ranger. (A Sloane Ranger maybe but that's all she could ever be.) Ah well, the Pacific Northwest settings are nice. And the fights are good. If ya like that sort of thing.
It's like they put all of the biggest cliché's together and made a
movie out of it. Every thing is wrong about this film: stereotypical
portrayals of Russian villains, the mafia and ghetto thugs (and
kick-boxing champions). Unbelievable coincidences like the fact that
Dr. Wu has exactly the same bag as the burglars (so of course the bags
are mixed up). And in the same scene Dr. Wu is first threatened with a
gun, kicks the gun out of the mobster's hands and then starts to fight
with the other mobsters, while no one thinks of pulling a gun and
simply shoot the good ol' Dr.
Painstaking efforts at acting, especially in the scenes that are meant to be sentimental and/or romantic. And cliché up on cliché... The fighting scenes are of the most boring kind; if this guy is a kick-boxing champion, then kick-boxing must be very lame...
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