No Retreat, No Surrender (1985) Poster

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Revenge of the 80's: Jean Claude Van Damme, Superstar.
Captain_Couth9 February 2005
No Retreat, No Surrender (1985) was a Seasonal Films production that was filmed in the United States. Corey Yuen was the director and Hoi Meng was the co-action director. This film marked the Western debut of future superstar Jean Claude Van Damme. This was also the first of three official No Retreat, No Surrender films.

A kid witnesses his dad being brutally beaten by a group of thugs and their new fighter, a big mean Soviet kick-fighter (J.C.V.D.) The kid does what anybody else would do if they saw their own dad nearly beaten to death, swear a blood revenge against those who put him in traction. There's one problem, the kid can't punch his way out of a paper bag and his fighting skills are virtually non-existence. What's a kid to do? Turn to a higher power! Will that be the stuff needed to beat down the mean Red fighter and avenge his father?

The fight scenes are realistic looking and bone crunching. The direction is real good and the acting is okay. A Hong Kong style movie made in America. J.C.V.D. is pretty scary and mean looking in his big debut. He'll make a bigger splash in his first true success Bloodsport.

If you enjoy old school kung fu movies where the son has to avenge his father with a blood oath, then this one's for you. Followed by No Retreat, No Surrender 2.
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Cheesey 80's action brilliance!!!!!!!!!
bouncywolf10 May 2002
From the stilted dialogue, through the ridiculous storyline, the amazing disco sequence and a rousing finale the sheer spirit of this FUN FUN FUN movie shines through. Forget all the computer generated fights of today, this how it was and should be. Over the top, funny, satisfying and possible. They don't make 'em like this anymore, and more's the shame.
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This movie has helped me through some hard times
dark171423 April 2001
I most start this off by saying, I think this is one of the best movies every made, its in my top 10 favorite movies of all time. I watched this movie like everyday after shcool when I was a kid. its great.. its so entertaining, and never gets old. it has a great story, great action scenes, great music, and memereble lines and characters. I still watch this movie all the time. When lifes at its low points, and I'm feeling down, when I watch this movie, it gives me the inspiration to not give up and keep pushing on. I love this movie, its got me through some hard times.
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Oh, boy
pmtelefon22 December 2019
I'm not a fan of watching campy movies. I can laugh an inept movie for a few minutes but then I get bored. Some people might watch "No Retreat, No Surrender" as camp. I don't but that doesn't mean that it's a good movie. It's not. It does, however, have a certain charm that makes the ridiculousness watchable. I watch "No Retreat, No Surrender" every once in a while. I won't say that it hits the spot but it's a strangely almost satisfying watch.
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solomonkain21 June 2005
Before watching the movie I had in my mind that this was just going to be another dodgy movie but with a bit of van damme thrown in. How wrong. This movie truly is a classic, the cheesy music, (especially the end credits) brilliant montage scenes and especially the fighting itself. This isn't your traditionally badly choreographed Van Dammeesque movie but a very well done job. The fight scenes a lengthy and extremely enjoyable, and everyone in the movie can kick and punch very well. The main character Kurt McKinney (Jason) turns up the style later in the movie by pulling off some unbelievable training exercises, such as his two-finger one handed push ups! OK - so the acting is very ropey - but who cares! If you're looking for an enjoyable evening in and a self motivational movie - this is the one!
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One of the greatest 80s-movies ever, with a terrific soundtrack!
BoDuke-330 August 2004
"No Retreat, No Surrender" is one of the greatest films I've ever seen. It's surely not very demanding or high-grade, but that doesn't really matter at all. It gives you such a great feeling of the 80s with all the typical clothes, sayings and especially the fantastic music. I like the story of the underdog becoming the winner. The film tells in a very simple way to never give up. It also has a pretty funny side. It is the only film known by me, with two different soundtracks. The US-version is different to the European one. I like the last one more, with the great song "Hold on to the vision" by Kevin Chalfant. It was unfortunately never available on CD or in any other way. Together with the great 80s-movies "BMX Bandits" and "Stand by me" this film is one of the most important movies of my childhood and also youth. When I saw "No Retreat, No Surrender" ("Karate Tiger" in Germany) for the first time, it was the reason for me to join a Karate Dojo for 4 years! I think that's it... this movie rocks!!! 80s 4ever!
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Was this written by a 10 year-old?
bensonmum22 July 2017
The basic plot of No Retreat, No Surrender is horribly familiar with bits of silliness thrown in for good measure. It goes something like this: a young man in a new town is pushed around and made to feel an outcast. Through training, hard work, and the help of Bruce Lee's ghost (who he prays to?), he makes himself into a karate expert. In the end, he alone will be forced to face-off against the New York-based karate thug to save the Seattle dojo from being taken over by organized crime. Sound ridiculous? It is.

I must be missing something, because I'm at a loss to explain all the positive comments on IMDb for No Retreat, No Surrender. Other than some pretty decent fight choreography, I can't find much else positive to say about the film. I know it was one of Jean-Claude Van Damme's first roles, but let's be honest, outside of the fights at the end, he's barely even in the thing. The acting is pathetic, some of the characters are cringy, the dialogue sounds like it was written by a 10 year-old, and the whole Bruce Lee's ghost bit is beyond ridiculous. It doesn't help that the dude they hired to play Bruce looks nothing like Bruce. A real stinker.
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Enter the Jason.
BA_Harrison16 January 2015
Although Jean-Claude Van Damme's image takes prominence on the cover of the DVD (front and back), the Belgian martial arts star only shows up briefly at the very beginning of the film, and for the entertaining finalé; the real 'star' of No Retreat, No Surrender is the lesser known Kurt McKinney, who plays young, headstrong karate student Jason, who, with a little help from break-dancer RJ (J.W. Fails) and Bruce Lee's ghost (Tai Chung Kim), helps defeat the New York gangsters who have been seizing control of the country's dojos for use as fronts for their criminal activities.

While the lack of Van Damage in the majority of the film could be off-putting for some, anyone who enjoys a large dollop of 80s cheeze should definitely stay on board...

Directed by Cory Yuen, No Retreat, No Surrender only proves mildly satisfying as a martial arts movie, with just a few unmemorable fights between Jason and local bullies before his inevitable showdown with hired heavy Ivan Kraschinsky (Van Damme). However, when the feet and fists aren't flying, the film is side-splittingly funny, with lousy performances (McKinney is much better at kicking than acting), a dumb plot (clearly inspired by The Karate Kid), ridiculous characters, the silly supernatural element, and hilarious 80s music and fashion unintentionally making this a lot more enjoyable than it really has any right to be.

The film's dumbest, and therefore most entertaining moments include a hilarious nightclub scene that sees RJ busting some moves in full Michael Jackson regalia, and the unforgettable sight of Jason training with RJ perched on his lap (their friendship clearly being taken to the next level).
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This is an outstanding film
quatermassandersen3 April 2000
No Retreat, No Surrender was a fantastic film which is one my absolute favorites. It reminds of the equally great The Karate Kid and Rocky 4 starring Sylvester Stallone. These three films came out during the mid 80`s and as we know most of the finest film was made from 84 to 90, No Retreat, No Surrender was no dissapointment.

When i rented it the first time when i was 12 me and my brother watched it 7 times in one day. The film is full of comedy and moving moments and the subject of martial arts is right down my alley, all around this is an outstanding picture that has all the right elements. The fact that most of the players are unknown doesn`t make a difference, they fit right in this film.

Kurt Mckinney is very fine in the lead role.
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So cheesy, so 80's: one of my favorite films.
InzyWimzy2 July 2002
I can remember seeing this way back on HBO. I saw that Jean Clod Van Dumb was in this, but his onscreen time is limited (thank goodness!). Good russian accent too (NOT!!).

Jason is the B film version of Daniel Larusso. I couldn't help laughing at the scenes where he got beat up a lot. I guess he learned well from his dad who also takes a major butt whooping thoughout the film. R.J. is the poster boy for Michael Jackson's fan club and his breakdance/rap scene will get you rock hard abs in no time. Did I mention that Bruce Lee's spirit is in this one too? Jason's training scenes are pure ghetto, but are a hoot to watch: reminiscent of the battle training in the Zoo Gang. The final fight is predictable, but is fun to watch Von Dumbkoff talk smack....and act too of course!!

Seriously, I do like this movie. The cheesiness and B grade feel of it makes it fun to watch and you can usually find something humorous on every viewing. Still, much better than Double Dragon.
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After three or more beers, this movie is flawless.
dcmccants12 June 2005
I don't know where to start with this cinematic masterpiece. When I first saw it(a million years ago) I thought it was so laughably bad that I enjoyed watching it. Then recently I had a few drinks then got the great idea of watching it again. I couldn't pull myself off of the floor from laughing so hard. Geez, the sound, video quality, acting, editing, EVERYTHING about this movie is bad. There should be a warning on the cover suggesting that viewers prepare themselves for the possibility of laughing themselves into a stupor.

Anyway, this movie is freaking great. Check this movie out without hesitation. If you watch it sober, you'll laugh at it normally, but when you got a few in ya, the laughs don't stop. You hear that punk, she KNOWS whos the best!!!
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fmarkland321 August 2006
Kurt McKinney stars as Jason Stillwell a typical 80's teen who worships Bruce Lee, sports a mullet has a break dancing black friend and is in fact getting his ass kicked by bullies that is until the ghost of Bruce Lee teaches him the tricks of the trade and improving his skill immensely. Enter Jean-Claude Van Damme a Russian kickboxer who Kurt goes up against to prove himself. Despite having a fondness for Jean-Claude Van Damme, this is a movie I never got the chance to see, I honestly don't remember when it came out and therefore it was an obscurity until Van Damme really hit it big. I still hadn't seen No Retreat No Surrender because I never got around to it. Now after Van Damme's career has come full circle (From Hollywood star to straight to video) I finally got around to seeing it. No Retreat No Surrender is unfortunately not very good. It is often times hilarious but generally not on purpose. I must admit though that fight sequences at the end are impressive and Van Damme despite having minimal screen time ends up stealing what little show there is. Other absurd notions to surface is "The ghost of Bruce Lee" subplot, the mobsters from New York wanting to take the gym from Seattle. However what is even funnier is that the New York agent says "We have radio shows covering it, as well as every paper!" only the next scene finds our heroes fighting in a high school gym, complete with fold in chairs. That's just rich. Still there are some amusing moments that surface just enough to make it a hilarious camp-fest or a decent Karate Kid rip off, which it aims for. Also the whole Russian angle seems to have been ripped off from Rocky IV which was also terrible .(Though far more boring)

*1/2 out of 4-(Poor)
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Vismyname9 June 2019
The movie is quite funny at times, but the last fight is one the best in the history of cinema.

Van Damme was a beast!
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Sympathetic but cheesy kick-boxing movie about a young battles an evil nemesis , being trained by Bruce Lee himself
ma-cortes25 April 2021
A young American kick-boxer : Kurt McKinney fights a formidable Russian opponent : Jean Claude Van Damme , after having been tutored by the ghost of Bruce Lee in an abandoned house , as he learns about himself , seeking for retribution . The teenage boy finds out that Full Contact involves using more than your fists when a famous ghost agrees to teach him Martial Arts . With help from an African-American friend with whom he develops a deep and sincere friendship and thanks to his trainer Bruce Lee himself , Kurt McKinney takes on enemies and win them .

This is a silly rehash from Rocky and Karate Kid films , including high level kick-boxing scenes with plenty of rest , bones mended and retaliaton . It is very the Eighties style with ordinary disco-music , break-dance , being a cheesy fun with thrills , action and lots of Full Contact combats in which our starring wins , quite improbably . It has a simple and plain plot , but tired and doesn't do much to perk it up . The motion picture was regularly directed by Corey Yuen . He is an expert on action movies and Martial Arts specialist who has choreographed a large number of thrillers , Chop-socky and Karate pictures . Rating 5.5/10 . Acceptable and passable . The flick will appeal to Martial Arts enthusiasts .

Followed by two sequels : "No retreat no surrender 2" 1989 by Corey Yuen with Loren Avedon , Max Thayer , Cynthia Rothrock, it has little or nothing to do with the film is ostensibly a follow-up . And another inferior sequel : "No retreat no surrender 3" 1991 with Keith Vitali , Loren Avendon , Joseph Campanella .
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A hoot and a half.
Hey_Sweden21 May 2021
The first American, English-language effort by celebrated action specialist Corey Yuen is amusing, simplistic storytelling: young karate student and Bruce Lee worshipper Jason Stillwell (Kurt McKinney) relocates from L. A. to Seattle after his father (Timothy D. Baker) is badly hurt by a Russian thug (Jean-Claude Van Damme) representing a mobster. Often mocked and humiliated by his new acquaintances, Jason is mentored by none other than the spirit of Bruce Lee (played by Tae-jeong Kim), ultimately going to battle with that brutal thug in a martial arts tournament.

This movie can be downright hilarious at times, with a silly screenplay (by Keith Strandberg) and tons of cheesy & tacky acting. In fact, some of this acting is so ridiculous as to be a riot. Among Jasons' tormentors is a corpulent slob (Kent Lipham) who (surprise, surprise) is a regular at the karate school that Jason thinks of attending. Including some priceless 80s trappings - there's an interlude of dancing at a nightclub, and your standard-issue anthemic rock song over the end credits - "No Retreat, No Surrender" does feature some entertaining training sequences and a reasonably rousing finale. So it does serve its purpose on that score. Action fans may also find this refreshing as an artifact from a time before fights could be supplemented with CGI.

McKinney is earnest in the lead, while future star Van Damme, in the years before his movie career really took off, manages to create an imposing presence with relatively little screen time. He only turns up near the beginning and at the end, and doesn't have much dialogue. What little dialogue he has serves to show what an arrogant jerk he is, supremely confident that he can't be beaten. J. W. Fails is rather endearing as Jasons' neighbour and new friend.

This sizes up as fairly entertaining material, even if it can't be taken seriously much of the time.

Five out of 10.
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Almost good, but the film seemed to lack focus...
Aaron137510 January 2022
I watched this film and it had some good points to it as the fight scenes were pretty good and there was some good moments making you root for the hero. At the same time, the film seemed to be almost a parody or just simply got lazy as love interests come out of literally nowhere and some of the acting is a bit over the top. Meanwhile, people you expect to get their comeuppance never do and the big fight at the end gets reduced to something you would expect in an overbooked WWE match, not a karate tournament...

The story, well lets face it, is all over the place. The story focuses on the protagonist for most of the film, but at times forgets about him entirely. Mob guys are trying to take over karate schools, because those must be worth millions! Not really, the buildings these schools rent are probably worth more, why the heck would the mob bother? Who cares, a Russian hurts the hero's dad's knee and so they move to Seattle where the hero runs afoul of bullies and loves a girl we never meet until her birthday party where the hero is disgraced again. All is okay though as the ghost of Bruce Lee teaches the hero the martial arts and then he is forgotten as a school must duke it out with Jean Claude Van Damme! Told you, this thing shifts a lot!

The lead guy is likable enough and the bullies you want to see get beaten up bad! Too bad they set these guys up as awful jerks and then they never get any sort of comeuppance from the hero, though a couple of them get blasted by Jean! Jean is pretty good as the villain, but he becomes a bit too over the top during his last fight as he starts behaving like a heel in wrestling...

So, I liked the fights and I wanted to see the hero succeed. I would also like to see more development in areas as watching a guy just have a girlfriend who happens to be the sister of the head of a karate school is absurd! I mean, they had to film the scenes, right? So why weren't they left in, you edit out unimportant stuff, but a love interest who is integral to the plot you leave in! Also, I do not believe Bruce Lee would hit people in the head to get his point across, from everything I have heard about him he was a pretty nice fellow. Though, if you need help, dead people just come back and assist you? Man, I need to find someone who was really good at helping get people past depression then, I cannot afford an alive one...
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fantastic martial art flick from the eighties'
kai-tangvik6 May 2005
Just finished viewing no retreat,no surrender whom i borrowed from by good friend "Thorstein" today.The last time i watched it was approximately ten years ago on a lousy video tape,and seeing it on DVD gave me a hell of a ride.We all know that these movies lack about everything a movie lover craves,but the intensity and the choreography of the fighting is just plain awesome! I too see the similarities ti Rocky 4 with the Russian fighter etc,but remember that Ivan grabbed Jasons girl by the hair,wouldn't you step into the ring to defend your girl? Simultanously i have to say that our belgium phenomen has delivered the film-histories best side-kicks.Worth the whole movie by itself! Beside "American warrior" this is the greatest martial art movie of all time!Sorry Jet Li!And once again thanks to my dear friend Thorstein(who simply adores van damme)for lending me this one!
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effellow13 January 2021
There is a bunny in the movie. I love bunnies. 10/10
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A campy, cliched classic
bowmanblue20 May 2020
If you've seen any of the marketing material surrounding 'No Retreat, No Surrender' then you'd probably think that it was going to be a martial arts epic in the same league as Jean Claude Van Damme's similar films such as 'Bloodsport' and 'Kickboxer.' His face is - normally - all over the cover in order to 'lure you in.' However, despite him showing up in the first scene, you won't be getting much more from 'the Muscles From Brussels' until the final showdown.

Instead, you get a weird mish-mash of a martial arts story that could be anything from 'teen comedy' to 'supernatural drama.' Apparently, gangs of organised criminals want to take over all karate centres in America and force a young man's family out of L.A. to Seattle where he takes lessons from Bruce Lee's ghost in order to face down those who wronged his father.

The film kind of bounces from one genre to another. It starts with some graphic violence and later switches to a wacky slapstick comedy at the expense of an overweight local bully. In fact... if I could use one word to sum up 'No Retreat, No Surrender,' then it would be 'cliché.' It's practically an hour and a half long list of one cinematic cliché after the next. Sometimes it's almost like it's trying to use every last movie trope of the eighties in order to form some sort of filmic Frankenstein's monster of madness.

If you're a fan of JCVD then you may get some bonus enjoyment out of watching one of his earliest performances. Yes, there are some martial arts scenes, but they hardly make up the bulk of the film and almost seem like an afterthought to the 'coming of age romantic teen comedy-drama.' Sometimes a film might be bad, but that doesn't mean that it's not enjoyable. If you're in the mood for one of those 'so-bad-they're-good' films then this one is right up there with the best of them (or should that be WORST of them?). It's very silly, but also very entertaining, so if you're in the mood for something daft and forgiving then you could do worse than this delightful pile of eighties nonsense.
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I would only reccomend it to dedicated martial arts fans
$TEVE McD17 April 2000
From the moment you hear the first line of dialogue spoken,you know this is going to be an ameteurish movie.The dialogue is particularly stupid and causes lots of unintentional laughter,however the parts that are intended to be funny(like a black Michael Jackson wanna-be named R.J thrown in for comic relief)are just sad.The editing is nothing short of careless,like a scene where R.J is commenting on something,although it's not totally clear what it is,by saying "Not bad,not bad at...the scene cuts before he finishes.The sound is at times very annoying.When Scott is first talking to R.J,as the camera cuts from actor to actor,the background noises change distinctly,like truck horns and loud motors.

Any good points?Well,the fighting is above average for a film like this.It's very quickly choreographed and is helped a lot by the absence of slow motion,which usually slows fight scenes down a lot.And there's Van Damme in his first film.He is actually a pretty imposing presence here and was wisely not given more than about 2 lines of dialogue(we all know why).The best point of the movie is the very accurate teachings of the Bruce Lee ghost who helps Scott beat Van Damme.
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No Retreat, No Surrender (1986)
fntstcplnt28 August 2019
Directed by Corey Yuen. Starring Kurt McKinney, J.W. Fails, Kent Lipham, Timothy D. Baker, Tai Chung Kim, Kathie Sileno, Ron Pohnel, Jean-Claude van Damme, Dale Jacoby. (PG)

Exceedingly earnest but inept martial arts hokum about teenage McKinney being taught karate by Bruce Lee's ghost--no, seriously--so he can defend himself against bullies and gangsters (of course). What isn't recycled from "Karate Kid" and multiple "Rocky" movies is just embarrassingly silly (is the ghost supposed to be real or a figment of the kid's imagination? Nope, doesn't matter), while the acting and storytelling are pure amateur hour. Van Damme's first movie role of any substance; he only appears at the beginning and the climax and says all of about ten words but gets in plenty of high-kicks and splits (therefore, it must be considered one of his savviest performances). There's some decent action choreography in the final fight scenes, but the only reason to watch that far is to repeatedly laugh at the ineptitude on-hand before it. An endurance test for those who don't like cheese/camp; not the worst way to waste an hour-and-a-half for those who do.

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One of my favorite movies ever!
jaws!25 April 1999
Tthis movie is entertaining from begining to end. It never stops with pure entertainment. It's a great movie. It may be poorly edited, but you over look that because it's so entertaining.One of my all time favorite movies. I give this movie ***1/2 out of ****
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Bad movie staring the good action actor Jean-Claude Van Dam
monkey-man4 August 2005
I hired this movie on a really old video tape and i only hired it because Jean-Claude Van Dam is in it and before i watched it i thought that this movie would be great full of heaps of action scenes but the movie turned out to be a bit crap.I have seen most of Vam Dams movies and this movie has to be one of his worst movies and he is only in this movie for like 25 minutes or less.U should only watch this movie if u are a fan of martial arts movies or Jean-Claude Van Dam and the only good scenes in this movie are in the end of the movie. And over all this movie was bad but it is still an OK way to spend an hour and a half and my rating is 4 out of 10.
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Big finale
ctomvelu120 January 2013
Not much to be said for this typical 80s action flick, except for the the jaw-dropping fight at the end. A young man and his dad, a Lo Angeles dojo owner, move to Seattle after some New York mob types injure the dad and take over his dojo. In Seattle (where they apparently have palm trees), the kid, who knows a little karate, takes a beating from some local karate bullies and ends up training with the ghost f Bruce Lee, whom the kid worships. Yep. That's what I said. The ghost of Bruce Lee. This leads to a final confrontation with one of the New York hoods who hurt his dad. Van Damme is that hood, and he is only in the film for about five or 10 minutes. Basically a ripoff of The Karate Kid. Skip all but the last seven or eight minutes of the film. Your jaw is guaranteed to drop, if you're a martial arts fan. The legendary Corey Yuen directed this no-budget B movie.
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reddiemurf812 June 2020
I watched the rifftrax version,, so, it's hilarious! This has to be one of the cheesier marital arts films I've seen (notice I said that I've seen,, not that there is). Wow,, those training scenes,, lol!!
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