Director: Patrick Allen
Starring: Bolo Yeung, Michael Bernardo, William Zabka, Maryam d’Abo, Sigal Diamant
For the glory, the money and to the death
Ruben (Zabka) and Nick (Bernardo) are young martial arts students who are tricked into entering the Shootfighter competition in Mexico by the villain of the movie Mr. Lee (Martin Kove, known from the Karate Kid movies) because Mr. Lee wants revenge on their teacher Shingo (Yeung). Mr. Lee turned Shootfighting into a non-honorable sport where evil white people sit and bet on the winner and the end of the fight is determined when the opponent is killed.
Shootfighter is a typical american martial arts movie from the early 90’s. After the success of Bloodsport (1988), a wave of fighting movies were produced. Some were crap, some were crappy but still entertaining and a few were actually good. Thankfully, Shootfighter ends in the above average pile.
The plot is thinner than a russian gymnastic competitor and 50% of the movie is in the ring (or street). The drive of the movie is to set up the final fight between Shingo and Mr. Lee, while at the same time try show off some good fighting skills. The fighting scenes are fun and very brutal. They also got a lot of punching sounds that where common and overused in that time period. Some of the fighters are quite strange. One of them fights like a snake (aptly named Boa) and another jumps around like a monkey. The movie could have benefited by cutting down some of the fighting since it does at a point get a little tedious and brings the movie down a notch, actually leaving the viewer to want a bit more story to it.
The characters are typical for these types of movies. Nick is a likeable guy but that’s probably more thanks to Ruben who is actually a douche even though he’s a good guy. Mr. Lee is an excellent bad guy and his evil ways are best demonstrated when he cuts a pineapple in two with his sword. The real star and the reason why people would want to see this movie however is of course to see the fighting skills of Bolo Yeung. His character Shingo is a quiet, elder teacher however so don’t expect to see his skills displayed a lot in this movie, sadly. He does however bring the fury in the final fighting scene where he looks more like a bad guy then a good guy to be honest.
Shootfighter is a movie that is perfect for the ones who grew up in the late 80’s / early 90’s and wanna reminisce of the time period where action movies where cheap to make and fun to watch. There wasn’t any CGI, but there where lots of fists and fury. Shootfighter is one of the last good ones from this period and it’s worth seeing again. With a tighter direction (this was Allen’s first and last movie) it could have become a cult classic.