4 user 1 critic

For Life or Death (1996)

| Action | 1996 (Russia)
a man named Kaan Woo (James Lew) is escaping his dark past, having been involved with a cult of brown shroud-wearing, druid-like monk warriors that have mystical powers. He apparently ... See full summary »


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Credited cast:
Kaan Woo
Ling Li
Sir Xavier
Earl Stockman
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:


a man named Kaan Woo (James Lew) is escaping his dark past, having been involved with a cult of brown shroud-wearing, druid-like monk warriors that have mystical powers. He apparently wanted out, because their evil queen, Ling Li (Nancy Kwan) has sent her servant, Sir Xavier (Richard Norton) to do her bidding - i.e., eliminate Woo. During a battle with the dark forces, Woo's soul is transferred into the body of homeless drunkard Earl Stockman (Mark Pellegrino). Now this bum is as surprised as anybody to find out he has mystical kung-fu abilities. Now "Superbum" must take on the evil cult and win the day. Written by IvanWong

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Release Date:

1996 (Russia)  »

Also Known As:

Soul of the Avenger  »

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User Reviews

There was effort put into this movie. That's a very sad thought.
2 June 2002 | by (Hawaii) – See all my reviews

If you ever show this movie to someone, I doubt they will ever forgive you. I rented this film because I was excited about what I read on the back of the cover. A warrior cult? A forbidden art? Gravity-defying martial arts? It sounded like a fabulous premise for a martial arts movie; too bad it turned out to be the most horribly executed movie in martial arts movie history.

Watching this movie is like sitting down at a strip club and watching a beautiful dancer come out and start dancing for you. At first glance, the stripper is very attractive, but then she smiles and you see that she has no teeth. Then while dancing, her wig falls off and you see that she is completely bald. Then as she removes her shirt, you see that her body is covered in coarse dark hair, and lots of it. You try to look away, but something compels you to keep looking just to see if it gets any worse, which it does. It turns out she was wearing a girdle which she now removes to reveal a sickeningly-massive gut which undulates to the completely inappropriate accordion-bagpipe duet that begins to blare loudly in your ears. You are desperately looking for a place to throw up in when the dancer removes her final article of clothing revealing that she was a man all along.

The initial feeling of denial followed by growing feelings of confusion, unease, and disgust caused by the aforementioned scenario is a perfect metaphor for sitting through this movie. The fight choreography is amateur at best, packed with unimpressive and unnecessary moves which only serve to irritate any martial arts movie fan. The claims of aerial combat are completely false and the special effects depicting `chi' attacks consist of slow-motion shots of people throwing dust. The opening fight scene was an absolute mess as it looked like it was done completely with camera angles…bad camera angles. The so-called acrobatics appeared to be the same shot of a random person doing a somersault over the camera repeated over and over again. The only redeemable part of that scene was the casting of martial arts legend Benny `The Jet' Urquidez as the main character's opponent. The dialogue suffered from terrible writing (if there even was a script) and acting so incredibly bad that it DIDN'T make you want to laugh. To make matters worse, the auteur felt like making the film "artistic" which resulted in an even more convoluted plot. Some of the more abstract sequences were completely out of place in an action/martial arts movie of such mind-bogglingly low quality. The casting of Kato Kaelin as the main character leaves the viewer wondering `WHY, GOD?! WHY?!' long after he is introduced and his portrayal of a mentally-challenged homeless drug-user-turned-mystical-warrior will have you reaching for the STOP button in no time. The only decent casting choice would have to be Richard Norton, who plays the villain role yet again. Being an accomplished martial artist, one would think he might've brought some quality to the film, but it just didn't happen.

I haven't seen every movie ever made, but I can honestly say that I have seen a very large number of absolutely horrible movies and out of all them, Soul of the Avenger is the worst movie I have ever seen.

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