Deathfight (1994)

They killed his favorite prostitute! They framed him for her murder! Sent to prison where he must learn to survive using only the skills that have made him the single best kickboxer in all of southeast Asia, Jack Dammeron’s life is about to get much worse!

His attorney, the very best legal beagle in all of southeast Asia is none other than his wife! Can she put aside her irritation with Jack for screwing hookers on business trips while he’s too self-centered to agree to have children with her to get an acquittal?

But her life is about to get much worse! She turns out to be pregnant! And the only way out of this serpentine mess is through the most dreaded of all competitions! Deathfight!

Those of you fearing that Deathfight is that most dreaded of all film genres, the erotic legal thriller, can rest easy! The dead hookers, pregnancies, irate wives, and hostile business takeovers are only the set-up for Jack to kick his way through a variety of karate experts on the road to his showdown with his evil step-brother Chang!

Despite Jack’s wife being a great lawyer, he’s not about to let his fate hinge on arguments about circumstantial evidence, time of death, and alibis! Once Jack’s super rich step-father bails him out of the pokey, he and his new prison buddy Wiley begin an intensive (read: violent) search for the real killers!

Deathfight 1

The story of Jack and Chang goes back to when they were just kids practicing kung fu on each other. Their fathers were business partners, but when Jack’s parents were gunned down before his eyes, Chang’s father adopted him and raised him as his own.

After Jack’s father’s death, Chang’s father continued to build up the company and they all became very wealthy as a result. But wealth can’t change what’s inside of you! Chang is a criminal mastermind who is into drugs, selling arms, and prostitution while Jack is a good guy who has a penchant for cheating on his wife with nasty hookers!

Jack and Chang are put on a collision course when Jack is awarded the chairmanship of the company. Apparently the board of directors felt that a guy who patronizes prostitutes would better represent the company than a guy who pimps them out.

Being the kingpin of crime though is not enough for Chang and he feels slighted by being passed over for the chairmanship and thus arranges for Jack to discover the dead hooker. He also blackmails his old man into giving him control of the company with some information about the deaths of Jack’s parents which kind of makes the whole dead hooker scheme pointless, but could we really expect Jack to get as revved up about a little blackmail as being wrongfully accused of murder? Really, how many Deathfights are going to result from Chang’s little spiral bound report he uses against his dad?

Deathfight 2

Deathfight is great chiefly because of star Richard Norton. Norton has appeared in a ton of films with titles like Raiders of the Sun, Strategic Command, and Equalizer 2000. He’s a bit on the tall, goofy-looking side, but he’s pretty jacked up and displays an intensity and quickness in his fight scenes that are showcased really well in this movie.

This isn’t some 500 pound Steven Seagal standing around and waving his arms a couple of times like he’s trying to get a waiter’s attention to refill the all-you-can-eat buffet. This is kicking, punching, choking, kneeing, jumping, rolling, and elbowing like there’s no tomorrow! This is Deathfight!

What’s awesome about Norton in Deathfight is that he doesn’t have to be in a given location more than five minutes before he’s stripping his shirt off and kicking the crap out of some guy with information that will lead him to the identity of the guy that set him up. I probably would’ve been thinking evil step-brother the whole time, but that’s what so great about Norton’s character – he’s willing to be kind of thickheaded so that he can have several Deathfights before the ultimate showdown with Chang.

Deathfight 3

It’s a smart move on the movie’s part since I’m here to see Richard Norton dispense bone crunching vengeance! And there is no shortage of that! He beats up every convict in his jail while tearing apart the prison cafeteria and making friends with Wiley. But only after he finishes his lunch!

Then he and Wiley beat up every patron at the Body Machine strip club while tearing it apart! Jack also fights a couple of guys connected with Chang including a dreadlocked guy name I-Ron who lives in some sort of really cool fighting temple that has lots of candles, statues, and a variety of weapons.

Norton displays all sorts of skills as he fights a knife-wielding I-Ron with just his shirt! Almost as awesome is when I-Ron starts going after Norton with something that looks like a Klingon Bat’leth while Norton starts twirling around a spear with great authority!

Fans of explosions and the like are rewarded for their patience since Wiley is in charge of providing a diversion while Jack storms Chang’s hideout. Being an ex-marine means Wiley has a ready supply of assault weapons, grenades, rocket launcher, and truck packed with explosives! Obviously tremendous on every important level (violence, cussing, dead hookers), if this is your first Richard Norton film, it will not be your last!

© 2013 MonsterHunter

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