Superfights (1995)

Superfights (1995)- * * * *

Directed by: Siu-Hung Leung

Starring: Brandon Gaines, Feihong Yu, Cliff Lenderman, Keith Vitali, Kelly Gallant, Patrick Lung-Kong, and Chuck Jeffreys

 John Jacob “Jack” Cody (Gaines) is a 20-year-old “box boy”, i.e., he works in a factory. He’s obsessed with Martial Arts, and even has a Rapid Fire (1992) poster on the wall at his job. He’s particularly enamored of a televised event known as Superfights. Following a childhood encounter with a Superfighter, it’s Jack’s dream to follow in his footsteps. One night, he saves  Sally Wong (Yu) from a gang of thugs assaulting her at an ATM. When the head of Superfights, Robert Sawyer (Vitali) sees Jack on the news, he recruits him. Sure, Jack has to sign a contract so thick, it looks like the printed-out version of the Apple terms and conditions, but he signs anyway, because it all seems like a dream come true. He meets the fighters Dark Cloud (Jeffreys) and Budokai (Lenderman), and begins training under Angel (Gallant). When a “surprise ninja” confronts Jack, he realizes something shady and wrong is going on behind the scenes at Superfights. Could it be the enforced drug use? Or the fact that Sawyer stages underground Punchfights to the death in his spare time? Could it be a protection racket - or something else? Meanwhile, Jack also begins training with Sally’s wise old Grandfather (Lung-Kong). Will Jack live his dream - or will he find out it’s a nightmare?

If it’s one thing that Superfighters - and Brandon Gaines - has, it’s energy. He’s so enthusiastic, he makes Tom Cruise look like Steven Wright. He also has some killer moves. Superfights is what the world needs now - it’s cool, happy, exciting, fun, wildly upbeat, and the enthusiasm is downright infectious. So many movies today are dour, depressing, cynical, and negative. Superfights is the antidote to all that. There’s seemingly a very well-choreographed fight scene every 30 seconds, and you grow to love Jack, Sally, and Grandfather. Brandon Gaines should, at the very least, have had the career that Loren Avedon had. Criminally - Criminally! - this is his only movie role. The world needs his earnest eagerness more than ever before. Where are you, Brandon? Please come back!

Before Jack becomes his Superfights character “The All-American Hero”, his old co-worker calls him “Jean-Claude Van Dunce”. Would that Van Damme display Gaines’s level of intensity! Chuck Jeffreys is his normal charismatic self, but it’s hard to compete with Gaines as the plucky hero and Vitali as the super-evil, Vince McMahon-like baddie. He insists all the fighters in his stable take Superfights “vitamins”. Gallant as Angel was an interesting casting choice - she looks like a buffer Arianna Huffington. Or, if you will, Arianna Buffington.

There’s a great title song (with hilariously literal lyrics) that plays THREE times, there are TWO freeze frames, multiple montages, Jack never is, or becomes, a jerk, and there is a truly awesome final warehouse fight. Superfights thoroughly delivers the goods and is impeccably entertaining the entire time. We’re impressed.

Anyone who dislikes Superfights truly has a heart of stone, and has given up on life, and we feel sorry for you. Superfights is superfun.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett

Also check out write-ups from our buddies, Cool Target and Fist Of B-List! 


The Bounty Hunter (1990)

The Bounty Hunter (1990)- * *1\2

Directed by: Robert Ginty

Starring: Robert Ginty, Bo Hopkins, Melvin Holt, and Loeta Waterdown

Duke Evans (Ginty) is a Vietnam vet and ex-police officer who is now a tough-as-nails bounty hunter. He’s in a small Oklahoma town doing what he does best, which ends up putting him at odds with Sheriff Bennett (Hopkins). Evans’ ‘Nam buddy was murdered, and he suspects it is all part of a sinister plot to take land away from the local Indian population and sell it to an oil company for big profits. But he has to prove it first, and with the help of the slain man’s sister and brother (Waterdown and Holt, respectively), Evans attempts to get to the truth. But with the stubborn Sheriff and his army of sycophantic goons ever at the ready to take Evans down, will he be successful? Find out today...

We’re huge Robert Ginty fans, and The Bounty Hunter is a prime example of what Ginty can do when unleashed. This movie only increases his already-large status in our eyes - as star, director, and co-writer, he really gets a chance to shine here, and he indeed seizes the opportunity. Looking a lot like Renegades-era Kiefer Sutherland, Duke Evans (great name) is angry, surly, and the awesome level rises by the minute. This guy truly doesn’t take any guff - would you want it any other way? While his hair and ‘stache are in fine form in front of the camera, Ginty also displays talent behind it as well. There are some really interesting directorial touches; perhaps he felt he needed to prove himself in that department. We think he was successful.

While this is the Ginty you want - he pretty much took his character John Dee from the previous year’s Out On Bail (1989) and ran with it - the great Bo Hopkins gives him a run for his money as the baddie. This is classic, quality Hopkins. Yes, he’s playing yet another small-town sheriff (he even makes a Walking Tall reference at one point), but we’ve never seen Hopkins so animated. What he does in this movie is always interesting and worth watching. Maybe it was the fact that a fellow actor was directing him, but Hopkins seems to have been given free rein, with great results.

The whole Indian angle will put you in mind of the Thunder trilogy (let’s remember Bo Svenson was in the first two, not Bo Hopkins, however), as well as films like Johnny Firecloud (1975). The latter also reinforces the strong, pleasantly-70’s vibe of the whole outing. That being said, it’s funny how little has changed since ‘89-90: Characters talk about evil oil companies, “racist bullies” (not just bullies but RACIST bullies!), corruption that goes all the way to the top, among other hot-button issues. Interestingly, the term “Native American” is scarcely used, and the Indians refer to themselves as Indians. That probably wouldn’t happen today. Also, people in the small town play what can only be described as “confederate bingo”. (It’s pretty much regular bingo, but the ol’ Stars and Bars are prominently placed on flags and hats everywhere.)

The Bounty Hunter is not silly like a lot of other AIP movies. It has its own feel, and is well worth checking out. The Steve McClintock songs only reinforce the solid merits and virtues of the film. However, marring the otherwise-fine experience is an unsatisfying ending. That’s really the only blot on this effort, but it’s a pretty big blot. But that aside, it’s Ginty and Hopkins at their finest.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty