Karate Wars (1991)

Karate Wars (1991)- *

Directed by: David Huey

Starring: Christopher Wolf, Richard Rabago, Elsie Jay, and Gerald Okamura

“You do not know nothing about Oyama.” – Jason

Jason (Wolf) is in a Karate class taught by Oyama (Rabago). Even though he is the star pupil, he and Oyama seem to have some conflicts based upon a mutually-shared history. This only upsets Oyama further, as he has constant flashbacks of when he killed an opponent in the ring years ago. Jason and his fellow classmates are training for a big tournament called the Karate Wars, and boy do they train. 

Something about all this is even affecting the relationship between Jason and his girlfriend Tracy (Jay). While the owner of the rival dojo and token evil Karate master Nakaso (Okamura) is training his charges equally hard, something happens and the so-called Karate Wars are cancelled. Not caring about the huge cash prize, Jason arranges it so that the two rival schools fight it out with no audience and no awards, just a Bloodfight for honor in their own unsanctioned tournament. Will Jason and Oyama patch up their differences? Who will come out victorious in the new, more underground Karate Wars?

We wanted to like Karate Wars (or Bloodfight 3 if you prefer). We really did. But it kept disappointing us at every turn. The movie is incredibly repetitive, with just about every other scene taking place in a bare-bones room that’s supposed to be the gym at the school (high school? College? Who can say?) where Jason and his compatriots go to train and train and train. Those are interspersed with Oyama’s Black & White flashbacks of his fateful, deadly bout. Over and over and over again. Boredom looms over almost every scene, because there’s really only about three scenes shuffled around for 90 minutes or so.

Barely breaking up the monotony are scenes of ham-fisted drama that aren’t really based on anything. Those scenes are in conflict with the overall goofy tone of the film (which includes some of our dreaded bathroom humor). It has a ground-zero low-budget look to it and the sound quality is muddy at best. Unfortunately, there’s more…

Jason, the hero (?) of the piece – who looks like an attempted hybrid of Tom Cruise, Judd Nelson, and Charlie Sheen – is unlikable. His shining moment is when he throws a hissyfit in the locker room. He’s involved with not one, but TWO fights in the same parking lot in the span of about ten minutes. One is with Oyama, who he’s constantly whining to. Both fights are very, very dumb. Why not change the location just to spice things up? But no, both are in a dull, drab parking lot.

Even Gerald Okamura and the great noises he makes can’t save this wreck. It’s just that nothing interesting ever happens. Director David Huey has directed some action heavyweights in his time, including Gary Daniels, Richard Norton, and Olivier Gruner, so he should really know better. For this particular outing, he goes by the nom d’crud David Hue. Why? Was he hiding, or was he trying to sound more Asian?

Anyway, we hate to say this, but Karate Wars is rare for a reason. Whatever you do, do NOT spend 88 Euro for this on Amazon.fr. Sadly, they can’t all be winners, and this falls into the loser category.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


Karate Warrior 6 (1993)

Karate Warrior 6 (1993)- * * 

Directed by: Fabrizio De Angelis

Starring: Scotty Daffron, Ron Williams, Rafaele Exina, Dorian Field, Richard Goon, Timothy Smith, and David Warbeck

“Here’s your mermaid, you stupid jerks.”

Leo (Daffron) is an overweight college student who runs into a bit of good luck. That’s because as he’s riding his bike while simultaneously having a snack, a limousine carrying some sort of foreign diplomat cuts Leo off and he falls off the bike. While not really injured, Leo overinflates the situation and the diplomat gives him $10,000 in cash right there on the spot. Leo then takes his buddies on a shopping spree, and then on a vacation to Greece. While in Greece, the boys fall victim to a scammer and lose all their money, so they try a gentle scam of their own – they pretend to be tour guides in order to make enough money to get back home.

Unrelated to pretty much all of this, one day Larry Jones (Williams), who is one of the group of friends, sees an attractive Greek girl being assaulted by some toughs, so he intervenes and beats them up. After saving her, she mentions that the yearly motocross race is coming up, and that could get them the money they need to fly back home. So they all go back to her house to fix up an old, shoddy motorcycle. The guy that wins every year is named Mustafa (Exina). 

After Larry bests him, he gets mad and challenges him to a Karate match. He wins that every year, too. Larry gets his girlfriend Betty (Field) and the token family friend/Karate Master Mr. Masura (Goon) to come to Greece to train him. Naturally, it all comes to a head at the final fight, which Larry’s father (Warbeck) also attends. Who will be final champion, Larry or Mustafa?

As you may have noticed, there are SIX Karate Warrior movies. This sixth and, to date, final installment in the long-running series was again directed by Fabrizio DeAngelis, using his usual Larry Ludman pseudonym. The above description details the rambling and ramshackle nature of the plot. A bunch of things happen, it all unfolds in due course, but the Karate angle doesn’t show up until later, and is just another “thing that happens”. We’re all surprised when we finally see Larry is even a fighter of some sort. Another element to this is a pleasant, but pointless, Greek travelogue.

There’s a lot of ridiculous and silly dialogue, and speaking of silly, the main nemesis of the movie, Mustafa, doesn’t inspire much fear. He’s thin, waifish, and looks like a more effeminate version of Balki. Karate Warrior 6 came out in 1993, which was the same year as the last season of Perfect Strangers. So it’s safe to say that America was in the grip of Balki Fever at the time. DeAngelis, as was his wont, was just capitalizing on it. Balki was from the island of Mypos, which was Greek (?) so it all makes sense. And he fights a guy named Larry, so we finally get to see what we as viewers have been waiting for for so long: Larry vs. Balki.

Fan favorite David Warbeck is in the movie for probably less than a minute, all told, so any Warbeck fans out there, don’t go into this expecting him to go around busting any heads. What you do get, however, is one of the friends, Greg (Smith), who looks a lot like the elder Pete on The Adventures of Pete and Pete. In the name department, it’s hard to do better than Richard Goon. He plays Masura, and, while training Larry, he calls him, “Larry-san”. Larry does something that looks a lot like Daniel’s crane move from a certain other movie series.

Finally, it should be noted that the scam the boys fall victim to involves a guy who says they can take a picture with a real live mermaid, and then he steals their pants. That’s right, the old mermaid scam. In part, maybe that’s why the Karate Warrior series never made it to any home video format in the U.S. after the first one (which was released by Imperial). Maybe someone, somewhere figured American audiences couldn’t handle the silliness of volumes 2-6.

Anyway, there’s not a lot of substance here – or Karate, for that matter – but the movie isn’t awful. It’s competently made and there are some funny moments. It just rambles and doesn’t have a lot of focus. Are there any Karate Warrior completists out there who have seen all six? If so, write in today.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty