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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: Blade Warrior

June 15, 2016 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #362: Blade Warrior

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that doesn’t own a sword, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number three hundred and sixty-two, I take a look at the first movie from writer/director/martial artist auteur Jino Kang, the mega low budget Blade Warrior, which came out in 2001.

Blade Warrior

BladeWarriorJinoKang

Blade Warrior is a mega low budget action flick starring Jino Kang as Jack, a badass San Francisco cop that’s tired of dealing with the crime that plagues the city. After participating in a stakeout that ends up with a fellow officer getting his face blown off and a hellacious brawl inside his father’s small grocery store (Jack allowed his father’s store to be used in the stakeout, so, you know, what the heck did he expect to happen?), Jack decides to quit the force, open up his own martial arts studio, and work when he can in his father’s shop stocking shelves. But before all of that Jack makes sure that Blades (Kirk Fong), a scumbag local crime lord, is in custody and safely in prison. Blades isn’t too keen on going to prison, but he ends up going and killing a bunch of people inside while planning his revenge on Jack. All Blades needs to do is get out of prison.

Some time passes, Jack opens his martial arts studio, his old partner Phillip (I think that’s Geoff Phelps but I’m not sure about that) asks him to come back to the cop game because he can’t stand his new asshole partner Benedict (Steve Menasche), and Blades is paroled. Blades immediately goes back to being a big time local criminal and starts putting together his big scheme to gain his revenge on Jack. He starts fucking around with Jack’s family, starts fucking around with his martial arts studio and his students, and he hires a scary female assassin named Venus (I’m not sure of the actor’s name. Renee Lynette?). Jack tries to deal with all of this the best he can, trying to stay out of the violence that he knows will eventually show up once Blades decides to come after him. But then Blades ends up kidnapping Phillip and suddenly all bets are off and Jack decides to get back into the game. Blades is going down.

The plot to Blade Warrior isn’t anything we haven’t seen a million times before in other martial arts or revenge movies. However, what Blade Warrior lacks in plot and production value it more than makes up for its shortcomings with kickass fights and way more heart than most big budget movies in any genre. You can tell right from the beginning that writer/director/star Kang has a vision that he wants to get on film and he’ll do whatever it takes to get it. He doesn’t always succeed but you can tell that he’s making the best effort that he can. Kang also possesses a screen presence, an integrity, that’s infectious. As soon as you see him you like him and you want to see him succeed at whatever it is he wants to do. You may end up questioning some of his decisions but you end up backing him anyway. I mean, Kang’s Jack probably should have just asked to take a sabbatical from the police force instead of quitting. He would have been able to step away from the grind of daily police work and opened up his martial arts studio while still having access to inside police information, like when Blades was getting paroled. I’m sure the police union would have allowed a sabbatical. But then, hey, it’s Jack’s life. What the hell do I know? Maybe the story would have turned out exactly the same way even if Jack had stayed a cop.

There are also several instances where the movie stops for a moment and a philosophical quote briefly appears on screen followed by Kang in his hapkido studio demonstrating various hapkido techniques on, I guess, his students. These scenes break up the flow of the story and show you, just in case you were unaware from the fights that Kang’s Jack engages in, just how badass Jino Kang is. I loved these scenes as they show that Kang is not only the real deal when it comes to martial arts but that, even when the quote is something along the lines of “warriors must accept death,” Kang is a sensitive soul at heart. These scenes also, in a way, give Blade Warrior a kind of art house movie feel that you just don’t see all that often in low budget genre cinema (well, I haven’t seen it all that often).

The fight scenes are excellent. Every fight performer really goes for it and we don’t see any “tentative” encounters. Some of the fighters are slower than others but they all look good. The opening fight scene is one of the best ever filmed inside of a convenience store. And the final battle, a sword fight on the beach, is both awesome and kind of terrifying. Kang’s Jack and Blades really go after one another with their swords but, at the same time, you’re kind of scared because it looks like they’re using real swords. This is just a movie, man! Be careful!

And the final sequence is so badass and gross that you’ll be in awe of it. There’s also a great “knife through the hand” scene that is, without question, one of the best knife through the hand practical special effects you’ll ever see. It will make you cringe.

The acting is, in general, hit and miss throughout the movie. Kang is good, and Kirk Fong is a pretty good villain (according to imdb Blade Warrior is the only movie he’s been in). But everyone else is just sort of “in” the movie, saying their lines the best they can and succeeding about half of the time. The actress who plays Venus is good and scary as she’s playing an assassin, but her line reading is a little too stiff. Now, since this is a first movie I expected the performances to be all over the place, so the acting didn’t bother me. But just be aware that if and when you check out Blade Warrior (and you really should), that the acting is rough around the edges.

The sound is also hit and miss. There are times where the dialogue is hard to hear and, as a result, it’s hard to pick up on some character names. But, thankfully, the movie isn’t chock full of that overbearing endless music that so many low budget movies use to “up” the production value. So don’t be surprised if you end up turning up your TV’s volume while watching.

Blade Warrior is a great debut for auteur Jino Kang and a movie that you need to see. It’s not a perfect movie by any stretch, but it’s one of the better mega low budget martial arts flicks out there. Kang has a screen presence, an integrity that plenty of bigger, more well-known stars don’t have. Please, track down Blade Warrior and check it out. It’s worth it.

See Blade Warrior. See it, see it, see it.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: At least 10.

Explosions: None.

Nudity?: None.

Doobage: Scumbags disabling surveillance cameras, exploding face, shotgun city, knife to the chest, serious wrist breaking, a wicked chokehold, a switchblade sai weapon, a brutal knife attack, face slashing, a nifty handcuff move, gun disarming, weight lifting, martial arts studio hooey, rock throwing, a bloody nose, a low budget parole hearing, peanut M& M’s, a serious ass kicking, knife through the hand, throat poking, high heel shoe spike to the chest, dead guy mugging, a three-on-one beat down, attempted strangulation, barbell to the face, attempted kidnapping, neck breaking, knife catching, a chair beat down session, a living room brawl, a wicked kick to the balls, wine bottle to the back of the head, testicle stabbing, carjacking, knife jumping, glass through the back, more neck breaking, knife to the head, sword through the chest, a swordfight on the beach, and one of the greatest broken blade sequences ever.

Kim Richards?: Attempted.

Gratuitous: Knives, splitting an apple in half, cut scenes to a martial arts studio where we see Jino Kang showing everyone just how badass he really is, Happy Birthday balloons, an asshole picking on a disabled kid, someone drinking Maalox straight from the bottle, water being poured into a glass, Jino Kang working out while listening to music, dominos, a room full of stuffed lions and deer and stuff, National Enquirer, Carnation Evaporated Milk, and a shirtless swordfight on the beach.

Best lines: “To defeat the enemy without fighting is the highest skill,” “Where is it?,” “Before you go you’re under arrest!,” “You’re going to regret this! Yeah, I’m going to regret not killing you,” “So why do they call you Blades?,” “Hey! Here he comes! Mr. Macho Hapkido!,” “Go ahead. Whip it out,” “Hold your horses! Have a donut!,” “Knowledge and preparation allow one to defeat many,” “Yeah, man, get your own dang newspaper!,” “Where’s Jack Lee?,” “What’s wrong? Someone tried to steal me,” “No, Les, no more,” “So, are we going to have to do this the hard way or the easy way?,” “I’ll be at my father’s store,” “Nothing lasts forever,” “You lucked out. Someone had to die,” “Kill him,” “Nice work, Jack. Payback’s a bitch, isn’t it?,” “Jesus! Bodies everywhere!,” and “The way of the warrior is absolute acceptance of death.”

Rating: 7.0/10.0

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Things to Watch Out For This Week

LondonHasFallen

London Has Fallen: This badass sequel to the supremely awesome Olympus Has Fallen was a blast to see on the big screen. Butler is still very awesome, and the new director Babak Najafi did a great job with the set pieces (the siege in London is insane and the big action scene that takes place in one take towards the end of the movie is a definite “on youtube forever” scene). I plan on eventually reviewing this movie for the column. If you didn’t see this when it came out, man, you need to check it out. It’s very worth your time.

10CloverfieldLane

10 Coverfield Lane: I missed this when it was in theatres, so I have no idea if it’s as good or as mind blowing as some reviews made it out to be. It looked okay, but then I already know what the big surprise is at the end so I’m not sure if I’m going to dig the movie as much as I would have if I didn’t know anything about it. Anyone out there see this? Is it worth buying or should I rent it first?

Gridlocked

Gridlocked: This is yet another one of those low budget action flicks with a solid cast. Dominic Purcell stars, and Stephen Lang, Danny Glover, Vinnie Jones, and Trish Stratus are all involved in some capacity. Looks very rentable. Who keeps hiring these mercenaries to take stuff over, and do these mercenaries actually think they’ll get away with whatever they’re doing? And why is it no one ever seems to hire mercenaries in movies to be good guys? It happens, yes, but not very often.

TheFunhouseMassacre

The Funhouse Massacre: This low budget horror flick features Freddy Kruger hisself Robert Englund, Clint Howard, and BobRooney from Married… With Children E.E. Bell. Although I do have to question why anyone would create a Halloween funhouse maze thing based on the criminal acts of a bunch of real life psychopaths. That’s just bad taste. And these psychopaths are still alive and they’re incarcerated in an asylum in the town that the maze is in! Who the hell would do that? What the fuck, man?

TheXFilesTheEventSeries

The X-Files: The Event Series: This is the big hooha six-episode event mini-series deal that aired this past January. I thought it was pretty good in an overall sense, although I’m not too keen on the cliffhanger finale. I believe that Fox wants more episodes, but when the heck are we going to get them? I don’t want to wait another ten years for a conclusion to the mass sickness/alien invasion/whatever the hell was going on at the end of that last episode thing.

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And now a moment of Jino Kang

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Who is this week’s Douchebag of the Week? Go here and find out!

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Next Issue: The Jino Kang marathon continues with Fist 2 Fist!

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Check out Jino Kang’s website here!

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Follow me on Twitter!

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Check out my review of david j. moore’s The Good, the Tough, and the Deadly here!

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Well, I think that’ll be about it for now. Don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

B-movies rule. Always remember that.

Blade Warrior

Jino Kang– Jack
Kirk Fong– Blades
Geoff Phelps– Phillip
Steve Menasche– Benedict
Renee Lynette– Venus
Virginia Ralloway
Ray Carbonel

Directed by Jino Kang
Screenplay by Jino Kang

Distributed by Pathfinder Home Entertainment

Unrated
Runtime– 87 minutes

Buy it here