Cast: Bolo Yeung, Martin Kove, William Zabka
The movie Shootfighter contains this, and
"Only the strong survive."
"Let me explain the rules. In the ring, there are no
"There can be only one champion."
"You! It's time to fight!"
"I hope you brought your body bag!"
"It's destiny! You can't avoid it any longer."
In other words, Shootfighter is really
the same old martial
arts tournament movie that you've seen before. The difference between
entry and others of this genre is that it is worse in every department
that you can think of. Acting, directing, editing - you name it.
It could have worked. Even if a movie has to follow a
it can work if it's overall well made. But Shootfigher
so badly done, there doesn't seem to be any clues that the filmmakers
trying to as least make a passable actioner. In fact, it is so
that you'd almost swear that they were intentionally trying to make
this so cliché
and badly made. Look at the first few minutes of the movie, where
(Yeung) is participating in a Shootfighter tournament. The opening shot
is a pan from the Hong Kong harbor to the city itself when we hear that
"tooooo-tooo-ooo" Asian music that's always played when we see
Kong or something else Asian in a movie. Shingo defeats his opponent,
him in the head which leads his opponent to let out a gigantic spray of
saliva from his mouth. Shingo's friend fights in the next bout, and
killed by Lee, who delivers a final blow to Shingo's friend that sounds
Lee is banned from Shootfighting forever, and shouts to Shingo
like, "Someday, I'll get you!" Now, anyone who claims he isn't familiar
with all of the above sights and sounds is either a liar or has lived
the mountains for the past twenty years or so.
We then cut to L.A. after a period of...actually, we're
never told how
much time has passed. Shingo is now a martial arts teacher and has been
changed into an incidental character. What? Yes, though Bolo Yeung is
billed, for pretty much the rest of the movie he only appears seconds
a time as a silent character in the background. When he does speak,
all of his dialogue is in Chinese! Paying for a big star in the martial
arts world and barely using him at all is a really low way to get
to hand over their rental dollars. Anyway...Shingo is the martial arts
teacher of couple Reuben and Sherly, who run their own martial arts
Sherly's brother Nick (a former student of Shingo) returns home after a
two year absence from murky circumstances that are alluded to, but
properly explained anytime. Reuben is under pressure from a loanshark's
"persuaders" to pay off a debt, which leads to Nick and Reuben getting
into the inevitable fight in a bar. I'm getting so tired of barroom
The pressure also leads to a sequence when Reuben beats up a collector
and pushes and pulls back the poor guy's bloody face in and out of the
camera lens. This might have been watchable in a better-made movie, but
here it comes across as being desperate.
So things aren't good; Reuben and Sherly are in debt,
Shingo has nothing
to do but look sternly in the camera, and I'm stuck watching this
movie. Then Reuben and Nick are approached by some sleazy
organizers from Mexico, who give them a tape of a sample tournament
was not only shot by film, but by the changing angles by more than 10
cameras on at the same time. It seems easy, high paying work for both
so they head over the border, not telling Sherly. Now, guess who is
this tournament? Wow, you really should be working for Kreskin. Lee is
really running the tournament and inviting the guys to take part in
to find a way to confront Shingo again. This is evident by Lee stabbing
a knife in a group photo of the protagonists. How the filmmakers
to constantly find such originality is beyond me.
Shootfighter is not only a waste of time,
but you'll unlikely
find a longer way to spend 90 minutes. It's one endless fight after
all poorly choreographed and lacking excitement. The story is a joke.
acting is what you expect it to be (though at least Yeung has the
of having little to do, and not having English as a first language.)
award for most incompetence goes to the editing department. Never have
I seen such brainless editing in any motion picture before. Example
Sherly and Singo are at a Chinese restaurant, then suddenly the movie
to them helping students back at the gym for fifteen seconds or so.
they are back at the restaurant, where it seems that this sequence in
the restaurant is connected to
the previous restaurant scene. Example two: At one point in the
Reuben is told he's fighting next. But the next fight doesn't involve
at all! I happened to only have access to the "R" version of Shootfighter,
which is made worse by editing out several onscreen deaths so badly,
we have to guess what happened. Actually, there is one way that this
edit is superior than the unrated edit: it's two minutes shorter.
for availability on Amazon (VHS)
See also: Expect No Mercy,
Of The Best 4