Martial arts action film finds a retired detective returning to action to stop a martial arts master with steel fingers who is killing champions from all sports.Martial arts action film finds a retired detective returning to action to stop a martial arts master with steel fingers who is killing champions from all sports.Martial arts action film finds a retired detective returning to action to stop a martial arts master with steel fingers who is killing champions from all sports.
Much better are the triple threat of Chuck Jeffreys as a cop who reluctantly drags Daniels out of retirement, gone-too-soon Darren Shahlavi as the martial artist killer the two are hunting, and Frank Gorshin as a stereotypical police chief. Gorshin embraces the type with so such relish that he elevates the pedestrian material and makes a character with no surprises fun to watch. Jeffreys brings a similar, if slightly more understated energy to his role and makes him likable even when he's doing magic tricks at a murder scene. Shahlavi, in an early English-language role that is more substantial than stunt double in Hong Kong action films, is dynamic and wonderfully unhinged as a fighter who is systematically taking out former champions. You never know quite what he's going to do next, especially with his maniacal laugh, and he gets some of the best lines (not that there are many gems). After beating one opponent to a pulp, he exclaims in frustration "Why aren't you better?!," and you get exactly what makes this guy tick. He and Daniels tangle quite a bit as the film progresses and both are skilled enough to make the action come alive.
The story and screenplay by Keith W. Strandberg isn't much to write home about, but it moves pretty swiftly. Leung, as a director, adds some nice touches, like the dissolve from a red moon to a red stoplight or the way the reflection from Shahlavi's blade lights the face of one of his victims, and he films 1990s ungentrified Manhattan with sufficient grime and grit to make one long for the old days. It's not exactly "Taxi Driver," but it's nice to see. (Only a few scenes take place in NYC, much of the film was shot in Wilmington and it is obvious and jarring when the locations change, but Leung still makes the most of the limited screen time NYC gets.) Mainly, though, it is Leung as action choreographer who shines here, packing the film with impressive sequences that take full advantage of his casts' athleticism. Despite clunky exposition and a leading man with some severe limitations, this is a solidly entertaining watch.
- Oct 14, 2016