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Monday, 7 August 2017

Retro Review: The Perfect Weapon (1991)

The Perfect Weapon
Cast: Jeff Speakman, John Dye, Mako, James Hong, Dante Basco, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa
Genre: Martial Arts Action
U.S Box Office Gross: over $14 million 

Plot: An expert in Kenpo avenges his Chinatown friend, Slain by a mobster in Chinatown

'American Martial arts B- Action Flick Done Right'

As well as Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, Jet Li, in Western-based stars Chuck Norris, Steven Segal, Jason Statham & Jean-Claude Van Damme, they all found their way on the action movie market with global success. Following in the same vein as the latter was the little known Jeff Speakman and real-life practitioner of Kenpo and with The Perfect Weapon, his first entry on the martial arts action movie scene does more than leave a positive impression, thanks to the plethora of fight scenes seen here. We've all heard of Lethal Weapon, well, in Jeff, he is The Perfect Weapon. 

Jeff Speakman is Jeff Sanders: a construction worker by day and a master of the Japanese martial art, Kenpo who is out to avenge the death of his mentor and friend, Kim at the hands of a Korean/Chinese mafia boss, Yung played by James Hong and fellow henchman Kai in Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa. Rufio of Hook namely Dante Basco is a youngster, Jimmy Ho. & I recognise these latter three Asian-American actors. Sanders was once a troubled teen after the death of his mother, with his father and brother who all looked up to Jeff. When the mafia groups are at war with each other, Jeff finds himself embroiled in their mess, and thus, resulting in the death of Kim. Jeff seeks revenge and goes gunning for Yung. 

Watching Jeff here, I'm actually amazed that he didn't become a huge martial arts action star alongside Jean-Claude Van Damme and Jackie Chan because he is an awesome fighter. I guess he just never landed the blockbuster and big-name action movies that he deserved. His Kenpo fighting style is elegant, graceful - yet very swift, fast-paced, frenzied and devastating with each blow. Every time he landed a blow and connected with a flurry of hits with his sticks, I was in awe and so excited; the scenes where he makes mincemeat of the muggers and leaves them in a heap and where he takes on two fighters in a Taekwondo gym are worth seeing. This guy can fight (and boy, can he fight) and as an actor, personally, Jeff did rather well in his role. In a different & more successful martial arts movie and with an even better and tighter dialogue & with a more appealing screen presence going for himself, he would have gone on to better things in his career. 

The director of this film also directed Kickboxer with Jean-Claude Van Damme and I thought he did a good job with this effort; thankfully, he let the action do the talking and for it to make that required impact, which it did. The acting performances, I thought were good (although Dante Basco's character is more forgettable here than his turn as Rufio in Hook), the script is the standard fare that is found in many martial arts and action movies, though the action is terrific and is the film's major strong point.

Final Verdict:

An underrated martial arts action movie that is a must-see for fans of the genre and though it has been labelled as atypical B-movie martial arts flick, The Perfect Weapon has become a cult classic of its genre & the fight scenes are one of a kind. I could have done without Dante though. & at under 1.30 mins, this is the perfect runtime for a movie of this genre. It's not too long but also, it's not completely boring either, as the story held up as well. 

This has become one of my favourite martial arts based action flicks. 

A direct-to-DVD effort this may be and yet in The Perfect Weapon, the quality of the action and martial arts scenes go on to elevate it above that status. 


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