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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: Fist 2 Fist

June 22, 2016 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #363: Fist 2 Fist

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has no interest in entering the octagon, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number three hundred and sixty-three, the Jino Kang marathon continues with Fist 2 Fist, which first appeared in 2011.

Fist 2 Fist

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Fist 2 Fist, Jino Kang’s second cinematic effort where he writes, directs, and stars, has Kang playing Ken Min, a quiet martial arts badass who, when he isn’t running a local youth center that teaches kids the values of martial arts and not being an asshole, helps down on their luck people with their big ass problems. At the beginning of the movie we see Ken taking on some bad guys in an illegal car chop shop, wiping the floor with multiple attackers while trying to stay alive. His help isn’t exactly legal, but then he has a checkered past as a criminal youth and helping people get out of trouble is how he sort of exorcises his own personal demons. After taking out the attackers and not dying, the scene shifts to the parking lot outside of Ken’s hapkido studio, where a young hoodlum named Jim (Peter Rallojay Woodrow) tries to mug him. After failing miserably at this particular bit of street crime, Ken gives Jim a chance to redeem himself by becoming one of his hapkido students. Basically, as long as Jim listens to Ken and trains Ken will support him, giving him food and a place to sleep. Jim accepts Ken’s offer and begins training immediately.

Now, while all of that is going on, Ken is worried that his past is about to come roaring back to his present and try to punch him in the face. Tokyo Joe (Bill Duff), Ken’s old criminal youth buddy, is about to get out of prison and, more than likely, get back into street crime and whatnot. Ken also knows that Joe will come looking for him since he knows that Ken helped send him to prison. So Joe gets out of prison, hooks up with some fellow criminal scumbags, and starts plotting his revenge.

Some time passes, and, while dealing with Joe and training Jim and trying to remain a pillar of the community, Ken realizes that his hapkido studio is damn near broke. He’s afraid that he’ll have to close up shop. Ken doesn’t want to do that, though, as the studio and training are his life. He also doesn’t want to tell his wife Mimi (Melissa Tan) because he doesn’t want to disappoint her. When Mimi finds out what’s going on, though, she seems okay with the studio closing. She’s sad, sure, she doesn’t want to see her husband’s dream falter, but she knows that something else is on Ken’s mind. But what?

So then some stuff happens, Tokyo Joe and his thugs decide to pay Ken a visit in his studio, and suddenly it’s all out there. Tokyo Joe wants Ken to fight him, in the underground ring, winner-take-all. If Joe loses, he’ll give Ken the money he needs to keep his studio open. If Ken loses, he’ll be dead and Joe will get to molest Ken’s daughter and, probably, beat the shit out of anyone else that he wants to. Ken agrees to Joe’s terms and the fight is expected to happen in three days.

So then some more stuff happens, Ken takes Jim and some of his other students to the underground fights to show them just how awful it all is (and it is pretty awful and brutal), and then Ken takes his students to several other martial arts studios in town to learn other techniques and disciplines. I was confused by this particular bit in the plot because I’m pretty sure that Ken didn’t want his students to get involved in the underground fight game. But then taking them to the various studios to learn stuff from people like Judo Jim LaBelle seems to suggest that Ken knew that his students were going to try to get involved in underground fighting he wanted them to know as much about fighting as possible. Of course, there’s a chance I just misunderstood this part and Ken takes them around to the various studios because he wants them to get involved and know as much as possible.

Now, while all of that is going on, Tokyo Joe, being the underhanded bastard scumbag that he is, concocts a scheme to make sure that he wins his upcoming brawl with Ken. After Mimi shows up at Joe’s club to tell him to leave her husband alone, Joe decides to kidnap Mimi and sort of hold her for ransom. If Ken doesn’t throw the big fight and allow Joe to beat the shit out of him he’ll have his henchmen murder Mimi. It’s a horrible prospect. What the heck will Ken do?

Well, since Ken Min is Ken Min, he isn’t going to just let Tokyo Joe do all of this shit. After consulting with old school criminal nice guy Minetta (John Carney), Ken decides to take matters into his own hands and go right at Tokyo Joe’s operation and rescue his wife. It’s going to get bad quick, but then Ken kind of figured that when he knew that Tokyo Joe was getting out.

The rest of the movie features a sort of split screen between Ken taking on multiple Tokyo Joe henchmen and Ken’s students participating in an underground fighting night. The underground fighting stuff is brutal and kind of sleazy but it’s also sort of honorable. There are no referees in the ring with the fighters but no one tries to completely destroy anyone else. When someone taps out the hold is broken immediately and everything is okay. Ken’s fights, though, are nasty and bloody and involve terrifying weapons, like knives and a claw weapon. People also die in Ken’s fights, with Ken slicing and dicing bad guys left and right while also breaking limbs. No one dies in the ring. Well, not until the end, anyway (no, that isn’t really a spoiler. It would be a spoiler if I said no one died in the ring at the end because, really, in a movie like this, how often does that not happen? Exactly).

Fist 2 Fist is a much more technically savvy movie as compared to Blade Warrior. It has a slick look, better lighting, and moves smoothly from scene to scene. The sound is a little soft at times, but we hear just about everything we need to hear to understand what’s going on. The fight choreography is also more precise and better staged, especially in the areas like the chop shop garage and Tokyo Joe’s underground fight club. There are several insane hand-to-hand fights in a cramped basement that are a sight to behold. And the basement area looks like a basement but, at the same time, is lit so you can actually see what the hell is going on. I don’t know how many basement action sequences I’ve seen in both action movies and horror movies that are just impossible to comprehend. Fist 2 Fist is a cut above them all.

The fights inside the underground ring are somewhat repetitive but then they also help showcase just how tight it is inside that ring. It’s just you and your opponent and the cage, which is just inches away from you, what are you going to do? It’s actually kind of scary to think about having to go into that ring and fight. I can’t imagine anyone, even people who want to go into it, not getting kind of weirded out by the environment. And when Ken and Tokyo Joe eventually get into the ring to settle things, oh, man, it’s intense. And pretty dang scary.

Now, some people are probably going to be disappointed that the final fight isn’t a twenty minute brawl. That’s what I thought we were going to get, especially considering the animosity that exists between Ken and Joe. But the final brawl, as it is staged, makes total sense and is just nasty enough to matter. Would it have been cool if it had gone for ten minutes? Sure. But then it probably wouldn’t have had the same resonance as the brawl that we do get.

Kang is outstanding as Ken. He gives Ken a world weariness that is interesting to contemplate, especially when you consider that, in most martial arts action flicks featuring a guy running a martial arts school, the teacher character is usually a super positive presence. Ken is an upstanding guy, sure, but there’s a darkness to him that makes him different than the usual. And despite being older Kang is actually better at beating the crap out of people than in Blade Warrior. If Kang wants to make more movies where he plays a similar conflicted sort of character, taking on various bad guys while wearing a pretty nifty leather coat I’m all for it.

Bill Duff is excellent as Tokyo Joe. Joe is a piece of human garbage, sure, but he’s also kind of funny. Watching him train people how to fight in his martial arts school is a great example of how not to train people in the martial arts. He knows the moves and techniques and whatnot, but his attitude is pure villainy. I mean, how many martial arts teachers do you know or how many have you seen who actively cheer on their students to choke out their sparring partners? Great stuff.

The rest of the cast is decent enough. Ken’s students are young and full of positive vibes, even Jim, who goes through some nasty stuff concerning his past. Tokyo Joe’s henchmen are all hilarious scumbags, especially Bruno, as played by James Hiser, and Rocky, as played by Tim Lajcik. And Melissa Tan does a fine job as Ken’s concerned wife Mimi. And John Carney’s Minetta is exactly the kind of friendly criminal you want to be friends with. Awesome stuff.

Fist 2 Fist is a fine follow up to Blade Warrior. It’s a damn good low budget action flick that shows considerable growth from filmmaker Jino Kang. Track it down and check it out. It’s very worth your time.

See Fist 2 Fist. See it, see it, see it.

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So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: At least 20.

Explosions: None.

Nudity?: None.

Doobage:A voice over, a blurry montage of some city at night, a break in, ass kicking, attempted face smashing, ankle snap, attempted drug dealing, an attempted mugging, more ass kicking, an underground fight club where people fight, one of the most vicious leg breaks in movie history, a small training montage, a kidnapping, boozing, attempted murder, a flashback, blackmail, a wicked knife, knife play, one of the nastiest wrist slashings in movie history, a vicious arm break, Taser attack, slow motion table breaking, a nasty bullet to the head, a garage shootout, off screen body crushing, a brutal hand-to-hand battle, knife to the chest, a gooey throat slashing, and knife removal.

Kim Richards?: Not really. It depends on how you want to look at it.

Gratuitous: Attempted mugging, Jino Kang eating a sandwich, a mouthpiece, Tarot card hooey, male teenager macho bullshit, a Muy Thai boxing/yoga studio, a sad flashback, a sleazy selfie, Taser hooey, and a small octagon in a basement somewhere.

Best lines: “Who. The fuck. Are you?,” “Give me your wallet chink!,” “Fuck you, Steve! You’re a fucking asshole! Get the fuck out of here!,” “Why are you always walking away from me?,” “Sometimes training does matter,” “Jimbo, how’s your face,” “To die without a cause is a foolish death,” “Man, what stinks in here? It’s cat piss,” “You look nervous, Bruno,” “Knock it off! You idiots drive me insane!,” “Leave them be. This is just between you and me,” “You are such a dick! I can take you on! What kind of dumbass says that to a mob boss?,” “I don’t care! Make him fucking pass out!,” “It’s okay, Mike. It’s just a circle,” “Only a fucking moron digs his own grave,” “Yeah, I see ya, Joe. Sonofabitch,” “You touch her I’ll kill you you sonofabitch!,” “Which one of you motherfuckers wants to die first?,” “Hey, Joe! You should have stayed in the joint, pal!,” “Fuck that psychic!,” and “Hey, you look like you’ve been through a meat grinder.”

Rating: 8.0/10.0

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Things to Watch Out For This Week

MidnightSpecial

Midnight Special: This sci-fi flick managed to get a theatrical release that, as far as I know, was somewhat successful. I didn’t see it when it came out, but I liked all of the trailers and commercials and whatnot I saw for it and it looked pretty good. Michael Shannon and Kylo Ren hisself Adam Driver are in it. Anyone out there see this? Anyone at all?

TheAbandoned

Abandoned: This low budget horror flick, originally titled The Confines, is apparently all about supernatural hooha happening in a museum or something. It doesn’t look terrible. Jason Patric is in it, so it has that going for it, too. Rentable.

BalletofBlood

Ballet of Blood: This is some sort of mega low budget horror movie about ballerinas getting revenge on their ballet school for some reason. How many horror movies have that plot? I have a feeling this is going to be one of those longer than it needs to be mega low budget horror movies, but I’m hopeful that it isn’t. Rentable.

DirtyLies

Dirty Lies: I’m going to assume that this crime thriller is meant to appeal to annoying young people as it appears the movie is chock full of them. The great Keith David is apparently in it, as it Scout-Taylor Compton. I guess that makes this movie rentable. I do want to know, though, why young people always have to be annoying in damn near every movie?

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And now a moment of Jino Kang

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B-Movie News: Eli Roth set to direct a Death Wish remake?

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Eli Roth, the director behind the first two Hostel movies, the original Cabin Fever, and the jungle cannibal movie The Green Inferno has apparently been hired to direct a remake of the Chuck Bronson classic Death Wish with Bruce Willis in the Bronson role. I’m not sure I like this.

For one, Roth isn’t a very good director. The movies he has directed so far have been very hit and miss, and I’m not sure he’s the guy anyone wants making what MGM and Paramount hope will be some sort of franchise. He hasn’t shown an aptitude for action or suspense, and Death Wish and its four sequels are chock full of both. Roth does know how to stage gory violence, so unless he plans on making a sort of horror movie version of Death Wish, with Willis as a Jigsaw type character exacting revenge on bad guys for some reason, I don’t see how this works.

I’m also not on board with Willis as the lead. Willis, an action movie legend, hasn’t exactly been motivated the last few years, and this whole arrangement sounds like a cash in more than anything else. I’m assuming that Willis’ participation is the only reason MGM and Paramount are interested in doing it since everyone already knows who he is.

I’m also confused on how the whole idea of Death Wish in the here and now is supposed to work. The original book by Brian Garfield is a fine example of its time, an examination of the street violence and the paranoia present in urban societies in the 1970’s, and the first movie only makes sense if it takes place in a place and time that’s full of random violence, like New York City in the 1970’s. Does any of that scenario scream 2016? Or 2017? Not really.

So what the hell is this movie going to be about? Is it going to take place in the 1970’s, when everything was “going to hell?” Or is Death Wish just going to be the name of the movie and it’s instead going to be about some other bullshit?

This whole thing sounds like a bad idea on all fronts.

Anyone out there excited about this? And will anyone else, even with misgivings about it, go to see it anyway?

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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 concludes with Fist 2 Fist 2: Weapon of Choice!

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Check out Jino Kang’s website here!

And check out the interview I did with the man hisself, Jino Kang, 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!

And check out my interview with the man hisself david j. moore 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.

Fist 2 Fist

Jino Kang– Ken Min
Bill Duff– Tokyo Joe
John Carnet– Minetta
James Hiser– Bruno
Tim Lajcik– Rocky
Peter Rallojay Woodrow– Jim
Melissa Tan– Mimi

(check out the entire cast here

Directed by Jino Kang
Screenplay by Jino Kang

Distributed by Screen Media Ventures

Rated R for violence and language
Runtime– 92 minutes

Buy it here