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Thursday, 25 January 2018

Retro Review: Martial Outlaw (1993)

Martial Outlaw
Cast: Jeff Wincott, Gary Hudson, Vladimir Skomarovsky, Krista Errickson, Richard Jaeckel
Genre: Action/Martial Arts

Plot: A DEA agent working on the case of a Russian drug kingpin, agrees to let his unstable cop brother help him foil the crook

'A Poor Martial Arts B-Movie Showing'

Jeff Wincott is a Canadian- born martial arts actor, whose claim to fame is obscure martial arts action films alongside the likes of Brigette Nielsen and Cynthia Rothrock and whose brother is fellow actor Michael Wincott, who is best known for bad guy roles in movies such as The Crow, Metro, Strange Days and The Three Musketeers. Wincott plays DEA agent Kevin White, who returns to his hometown where his older brother is also a cop in Jack.

I watch action films, especially martial arts action movies for the action but even the action here is not that great: it's serviceable at most at DTV (direct to TV/DVD) level, but even for a so-called B action movie I expected a tad more in terms of quality. The combat and fight scenes are almost similar in every other action B- movie that I have come across, which didn't really excite me enough as I sat through them. I was like 'okay' every time Wincott and Hudson launched a kick or punch, but I was never left floored or gasped by their moves. & I never really bought Hudson as Wincott's onscreen brother. The performances are as expected for a DTV movie, but the story drags without any twists & surprises worth shouting about and with Martial Outlaw, I was disappointed that it tried to be a martial arts action film with a good story. Yet the story itself just lacks bite and in all honesty, I wasn't convinced by it. It just never gripped me. The plot is interesting but there is little substance in the story. The action kind of makes up for the script, which was written by 5 people and yet even with that amount of people working on it, Martial Outlaw just isn't engrossing or appealing when it focuses on the story. 

Another problem I have is Jeff Wincott as good a fighter as he is, he doesn't have a commandable screen presence- he's a decent martial artist and okay as an actor, but that is not enough. Wincott deserves credit for dedicating himself to 3 months of intensive training for the role and giving up sugar, dairy products, fruit, juices and bread to become a physical lean, mean, martial arts fighting machine.

But anyhow, Martial Outlaw underwhelms in both the story and action aspects: they just weren't what I'd expected them to be and even though it is B-movie, it didn't have enough for me to actually enjoy it, never mind love it. 

Final Verdict:

This ranks below that of Martial Law 2 and Rage & Honor films with Richard Norton and Cynthia Rothrock, The Perfect Weapon, as well as several other Hong Kong martial arts action films, Martial Outlaw is passable at best, but nothing more to it than that. 

The action needed to have been better and the story should have been more gripping. 

It's a disappointment in more ways than one for me, sadly. 


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