One Of The Best Blow-For-Blow Fight Films To Hit DTV
It's so easy to get discouraged with the DTV market when you see so many of these low-budget action films and the majority of them end up being either awful or just plain dull. Hell, I can admit that I didn't really enjoy Jeff Wincott's Martial Outlaw (1993) all that much myself. While Wincott himself was fine, I found the film lacking overall in nearly every department: direction, choreography, fight sequences and it's general overall tone. That film just reeked of cheapness. But I know he can deliver some bangers, because Last Man Standing is a film I still consider one of the best in both PM Entertainment's filmography as well as that specific genre in general. Well, after a few weeks of duds, I found another winner.
When a ruthless neo-fascist leader is running for mayor, and will do whatever it takes to get there, even if it resorts to murder. When she kills a friend of local cop Kurt Harris (Wincott), he goes undercover to infiltrate her secret underground organization to find out the truth.
I have to admit that this film really surprised me at every turn. First and foremost, you just know it's going to be a good time when Brigitte Nielsen is the main villain. But that's not all. Her henchman are some real badasses in the world of action such as Matthias Hues, Andrew Lew and a few other stunt performers and martial artists you'll most certainly recognize. But for me, the most impressive person I found in here was Karen Shepard (pictured above), someone I'd never heard of before....surprisingly, but literally blew me away here. She plays Kurt's partner, who wants to believe him and stands up for him any chance she gets, but always ends up finding herself in the thick of it when the shit hits the fan. What I found surprising his how her character is slowly revealed to be a total badass as the film progresses until she has several shining moments where her incredible martial arts skills come into play. How I've never heard of her, or why she's not a better known female action star is beyond me.
The fight scenes take center stage here, and they are just fucking brutal. In fact, the second I finished watching it, I messaged a buddy of mine and told him this was hands-down one of the best blow-for-blow fighting films I've ever seen in the low-budget action genre. There are no explosions, car chases or even gun fights from what I can recall. While there are plenty of guns and yes there are shootings, they always end up turning into fist fights and they always go on much longer than you're expecting, which is a good thing! Right from the first fight inside a liquor store during a robbery that Harris unfoils while on patrol, you know you're in for with the fights and choreography. Quality. A much higher quality than we're accustomed to with these types of films, and every time I thought they couldn't surprise me, they always did. The film is filled with numerous moments of badassery and an insane number of fights, but there are 3 in particular that stood out for me, one of them being a full on tournament-style underground battle that literally came out of nowhere and ended up being one of the best sequences in the entire film. Again, one of the film's many strengths is in the way that these are better than most fights I see in films that were hitting theaters during this time.
So we've got a pretty killer cast here full of action baddies, the amazonian Brigitte Nielsen, the surprisingly badass Karen Sheperd, and of course the always reliable Jeff Wincott. But I have to give props to director Steve Barnett (Mindwarp, Scanner Cop II), a post-production supervisor on big budget films such as Live Free or Die Hard, with only 9 credits as a film director, and none of them dealing with martial arts or even action for that matter. How he was able to deliver one of the best looking action films I've seen in ages, while others who do it for a living and still turn out turds is really surprising to me. He shoots the fight scenes so well, like he's done it before, and gives the entire a film an upgrade in quality that we usually don't see in these types of films. When someone takes just as much time to set up a slick looking shot that has nothing to do with the action just as much as he does for the action sequences, well that's always something to take notice of. It's a shame he didn't direct more DTV action films, he has a natural gift and he made this film look great. And it's because of this that I'll probably check out Scanner Cop II eventually.
Mission of Justice is currently streaming on Amazon Prime