Bloodfist 4: Die Trying

Director: Paul Ziller     
Don "The Dragon" Wilson, Cat Sassoon, Amanda Wyss

Impressed with the previous Bloodfist 3, I decided to check the next entry of this series. Even though it's still a Roger Corman production, surely they learned something from the last movie, right? Right? Wrong. This is just standard made-for-video martial arts "action". A viewer's enjoyment on this made-for-video genre in general will be his or her guide to whether you'll like this or not. As for me, I've seen far far too many of these movies.

Coincidentally, I rewatched Enter The Dragon a few days ago, in its new letterboxed version. Although I think Bruce Lee movies are way overrated (no flames please - I'll explain my reasoning shortly), this movie was above average for the genre. The fights, though short and not with high energy, were realistic (only a few blows in each fight) and were impressively pulled off by its charismatic star, who had a definite screen presence and martial arts talent. However, all of his movies (but less so with this one) had very boring surrounding material and had me waiting impatiently for the next fight, because those were the only interesting bits. I suppose I've been spoiled by Jackie Chan and other Hong Kong productions of the 80s and 90s - all these movies have high-octane action (martial arts or otherwise) and energy and/or humor in the surrounding material. It's amazing then, that Hollywood hasn't seen how to use this kind of martial arts action in their own movies. They may hire directors like Tsui Hark and Ringo Lam after seeing their Hong Kong work, but for some reason Hollywood then insists that these directors direct in an "American" fashion!

The point I'm making is that unless Hollywood realizes what works, and we refuse to fork over our bucks for these present stinkers, we'll continue to get more movies like Bloodfist 4. Hey, people saw parts 1,2, and 3 (and 5, 6,7,......), right? We'll make another one! What plot will we use this time? Well, Hollywood is spending a lot of money and time on the big-screen adaptation of The Fugitive, so let's make our own and release it before the other, to cash in on the publicity! We'll make Wilson a single father who works as a car repossessor - that's a good excuse to have an opening scene when he's confronted by the owner of the car he's repossessing, and get them to brutally fight each other for five straight minutes. After Wilson knocks the creep out, well have him drive away to pick up his daughter to take her to school. (Uh, sir...wouldn't Wilson be injured enough so that he'd look more hurt than a cut on his face? And wouldn't he find driving difficult then?) Who cares - it's a martial arts movie! People who would ask such questions wouldn't watch this genre.

Okay, then we'll spend five minutes with Wilson trading a few lines with his daughter and his co-workers at the auto repo center. The viewers will be hungry for another fight by then, so we'll have Wilson repossessing another car. We'll have a Billy Drago-lookalike seen changing the plates of his car with an identical-looking car. Wilson comes in just after he's done, sees the guy's car with the plates of the car he's supposed to repossess, and tries to repo the car but - (They fight, right?) You bet! They'll beat each other up for five minutes straight, with Wilson winning and driving away with the villain's car. (Uh, sir...why did the villain change the plates on his car in the first place?.......And with two grueling and punishing fights  in one morning, wouldn't Wilson feel he needs to see a doctor by then?) ......No one will notice these things - it's a martial arts movie!

Wilson will have accidentally dropped an invoice on the ground, so while Wilson is out for lunch, the bad guy's pals go shoot Wilson's co-workers and the whole place full of holes. No expense will be spared for ammo in this scene, as long as it stays within budget! We want to make this look at least a little better than other recent Roger Corman flicks.  Wilson returns shortly to see the aftermath of the carnage, get attacked by some fake cops asking about the box of chocolates that was in the car. Wilson beats them up, and is on the run from the real cops who suspect he was the killer and the bad guys wanting the box of chocolates. (So we're also ripping off Three Days of the Condor.) What? (Never mind. Hey, wouldn't the cops quickly discover that there was more than one gunner involved when they pull the slugs out the dead bodies and the walls?) It doesn't matter, because - (Let me guess: It's a martial arts movie!) That's right!

Okay, we'll show Wilson can't turn himself in with a monologue later in the movie revealing that the L.A. cops framed him for the car accident that killed his wife because the actual perpetrator was a cop. We'll show the police captain to be a moronic overweight woman who has fast food delivered to her at the murder sites. So Wilson is on his own, save for a friend of the woman who took the box of chocolates. (Hey, why isn't there any love scene or romantic attraction between Wilson and this woman? Is it because he's Asian and she's white?)......Uh...hey, if you were on the run, would you stop and fall in love? Besides, Wilson is half white! (Okay, that sort of makes sense....but why does Wilson keep killing the people who attack him every five minutes? He could injure them, and force them to give the information he needs.) Well, then the movie would end before the minimum 75-minutes. (And it's a martial arts movie?) You've got it!

(What about costars?) We don't have the budget for a name cast, so we'll just get James Tolkan. (Who's he?) He's that bald guy you see all the time in B movies. You remember, he was in Back to the Future, and he usually plays authority figures with a hard edge. (Oh yeah, that guy!) He'll give Wilson some help later in the movie, including the scene when Wilson refights that Billy Drago look-alike when he and his agents fire tear-gas into a warehouse to disable the other goons so that the two can slug it out. (But wouldn't the tear gas affect the two fighters more than it somehow making it hot enough for them to take off their shirts?...No, don't say it! I know the answer!) Okay, then we'll just rip out the last 15 pages of the last martial arts movie we made, do a little rewriting, and it'll be all set!

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Looking at the grosses for the latest Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal movies, it seems that people (at least in North America) are starting to realize what bad martial arts movies they've been getting. So there is hope that things will change, and we'll get what we want. Until then, use the admission money you would have spent to go to your city's Chinese district and rent about any movie with Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, or Jet Li - even their worst movies almost always have more entertainment than Bloodfist 4.

Check for availability on Amazon (DVD)

See also: Bloodfist 3, Drive, Best Of The Best 4