Monday, 25 October 2010

No Retreat, No Surrender 3: Blood Brothers (1990)

And the hits just keep on coming with part 3 of my retrospective of the cult movie franchise No Retreat, No Surrender. This week I'm reviewing part 3 subtitled Blood Brothers. Loren Avedon returns along side fellow martial artist Keith Vitali as two brothers Will(Avedon) and Casey(Vitali) who just can't seem to get along. Will spends his time teaching Karate and by teaching Karate I mean showing amazing displays of Tae Kwon Do and beating the living snot out of his students in an attempt to teach what it's like "on the streets" and Casey spends his time foiling bank robberies and sleeping with any leggy blonde unfortunate enough to fall into his line of sight. No, Casey isn't a superhero, he works for The Company, otherwise known as the CIA, I guess doing desk work gets dull after a while.

The reason these two don't get along is they represent two completely different ideologies of the human condition. Casey is the straight laced conservative fighting for truth, justice and the American way and strives hard to maintain social order in a world on the brink of war between the U.S. and Russia. Casey embodies the liberal spirit of modern society, who has cast off such stifling things as a boring office job and having a mortgage and expresses his freedom by training his body in the ancient form of martial combat. So when these two champions of opposing ideals meet they clash like thunder.

Actually, scratch everything I just wrote, I just added all that stuff and nonsense to make the film appear deep when actually it's less shallow then a half dried puddle. The reason these two whingey little sods don't get along is, well, I suppose it was just to make the movie and the characters more interesting when all it really does is make you want to reach into the screen, smack both of them round the lug hole and tell them to get over themselves. After meeting our fearless heroes we're treated to a scene in which they visit their father John (Joseph Campanella) to celebrate his birthday. Barely five minutes go by and the two brothers are at each other's throats like two hungry dogs fighting over a steak. At this point I didn't find these two characters at all likable. Avedon is certainly the better actor, while Vitali grits his teeth and his eyes bulge out like they're trying to escape his skull in an attempt to make it look like he's doing some serious acting. Yet all this conflict just didn't make them particularly endearing.

After the two storm off, John is left alone. Not long after that the bad guys or as I like to call them the Bad Hair Brigade, as they sport some of the most embarrassing hairstyles in the entire franchise, show up and rather then do the sensible thing and just shoot him in the back of the head, they decide to throw him round the house with some impressive stunt work. When Will and Casey find their deceased father, they decide to go their own way and get revenge on the people who saved John from the torture that is these two arguing.

Yes, I like to think his death is a mercy killing more then anything else. So, will the two of them get the bad guys and also make amends in time for the final reel? if you're really wondering that then I suggest you take your computer monitor (or laptop for those people on the go) and lightly tap the top of your skull no less then seven times, make it eight just to be safe.

NRNS 3 maintains the status quo of thin on plot and thick on action and boy it is thick on action. It's probably the most martial arts heavy of the series so far. After the second movie Corey Yuen moved on and the directing reigns were handed to Lucas Lowe but to maintain the snappy Hong Kong action style fight choreographer Tony Leung Siu-Hung was brought on board. Like it's previous entries the fighting is where the film shines the most. Leung fighting style is quite different to Corey Yuen's. While Yuen often has a fast paced but slightly exaggerated style to his scenes, Leung brings a much more dynamic and hard hitting street style that works in the actor's favours. Loren Avedon spent six hours a day for six months intensively preparing for the movie it really shows. His movements are less stiff and much more fluid and he has a heavier build that makes him look more of a dangerous adversary then he did in the previous movie.

He's paired well with co-star Keith Vitali who had appeared in classics like Revenge of the Ninja and Wheels on Meals by this time in his career, so he was already seasoned in the ways of movie making. Yet unlike Avedon he only spent a month preparing for the movie and ended up injuring his arm for his troubles, so for the whole movie Vitali has his hand in a cast but you barely notice it and it doesn't really effect his fighting. Anyone who may have seen Wheels on Meals may already know how good Vitali is and while NRNS3 doesn't quite show off his flair for screen fighting, it's definitely one of his better films that he made in his short screen career.

As for as the series goes NRNS3 has been the strongest entry thus far, the story is half-way decent but the acting stinks, I've said before Avedon is a decent actor but he over acts just a little bit sometimes and it gets a little grating. The action is by far the best I've seen and is further testament to the work of Tony Leung Siu-Hung, who is probably one of the more underrated action directors to work the action film genre.

So, that's all I've got to say on No Retreat, No Surrender 3, join me next week where I'll be reviewing the next instalment King of the Kickboxers.

No comments:

Post a Comment