Low-budget action is one of my absolute favorite genre's, and while there is no shortage of these types of films at my disposal, I've experienced a sort of lull these past few weeks. I maybe sat down to watch a good handful of them, and none of them did anything for me. I was shocked! Usually there's a gem in there somewhere, but not this time. That is until I stumbled upon this one. And really, I should have known better. I should have known to just seek out a film from the almighty PM Entertainment from the get-go, because they rarely ever disappoint.
Sometime in the not-too-distant future, gangs have taken over sections of the city where the police are not allowed. 2 cops (Gary Daniels and Chad McQueen) go undercover and infiltrate one of these zones to find a criminal known as The Swordsman (The Ultimate Warrior), and to also look for a drug the gangs claim is a cure for AIDS, which they control and sell. By infiltrating this drug and criminal enterprise, they must enter the death matches.
Part action film, and part tournament-to-the-death film, Firepower checked off all the boxes on my list and I loved every second of it. There's action, shootouts, huge explosions (that always seem to come out of nowhere), fights to the death, and most surprisingly of all, the legendary The Ultimate Warrior!!!
This was one of 2 films directed by PM Entertainment producer, director and co-owner Richard Pepin in 1993, and would mark his directorial debut for the company. Along with his partner Joseph Merhi (himself a director for the company), PM Entertainment would ultimately become the equivalent to what Cannon Films did in the 80's, only these guys were doing it in the 90's, but much better. They released a slew of action films and that were filled to the brim with insane stunts, copious amounts of explosions and enough action to keep us die-hard fans satisfied all throughout the 90's. While not every single film on their catalog was a gem, most of them were and they were consistent with their look and feel, no matter who directed them. But you could always tell when either Pepin or Merhi took the directors chair because they were actually really good at it and their particular films are considered the best of the bunch.
Pepin's other film that year was Fist of Honor. I'm not sure which came first, but let's say for arguments sake it was this one. If that's the case, it's an impressive debut for sure. You'd never know it was his first time behind the camera. Not only does he handle the action well, the fight scenes in the death ring are also impressive, but for a first-timer, even more so. Gary Daniels and Chad McQueen do fine in their roles, but Jim Hellwig AKA The Ultimate Warrior was a real surprise. While not a wrestling fan personally, there was something about this guy that just screamed wrestler. My buddy The Cinema Drunkie was kind enough to inform me that The Swordsman was in fact The Ultimate Warrior. I men, he's just a massive presence in here. Even though he doesn't utter a single word of dialogue that I can recall, and he certainly can't actually wield a sword very well at all, he's a dominating and imposing figure and really the standout of the film. From what I gather, this was his only film role outside of wrestling.
Firepower isn't mind-blowing or anything, but it's a helluva fun action flick from the PM Entertainment era that most certainly satisfied my thirst for a fun and surprisingly well-made action film after a few weeks of duds.
You can currently watch Firepower on Amazon Prime and TubiTV last time I checked.
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