Directed by: Talun Hsu
Starring: Gary Daniels, Victor Rivers, Kiyoshi Nakajo, Seiko Matsuda, LoriDawn Messuri, Jack McGee, and Cuba Gooding Sr.
LAPD cop Richard Fox (Daniels) finds himself caught in the middle of a Yakuza war as he tries to get to the truth about the death of his partner. While crime boss Bronson (Rivers) is able to run wild with his drug business because he has some dirty cops on the take, Japanese swordmaster Domoto (Nakajo) comes to town for his own reasons. At a certain point, those reasons intersect with Fox’s, and the two men from different worlds suddenly find they have more in common than they originally thought. Caught in the middle of all this are the women - Saemi (Matsuda) and Fox’s wife Linda (Messuri). Will Fox come out victorious - or will he end up on the wrong end of Domoto’s FATAL BLADE?
Fatal Blade is trying to be like a PM movie. This isn’t a criticism, necessarily; we wish more productions would at least try to hit the heights of the Gary Daniels three R’s of awesome: Rage (1995), Riot (1996), and Recoil (1998). The only problem is, PM doesn’t do “FM” - fast motion - and this movie does. So while it tries to do some car chases/car blow-ups in classic PM fashion, it commits the no-no of speeding up what fight scenes there are. You don’t NEED to speed up Gary Daniels. This was really annoying. There should have been more un-sped-up Martial Arts fights and less gun-shooting. Daniels even disappears for decent chunks of the running time. But when he is on screen, he has classic 90’s hair which we all love and enjoy.
While the movie is competently made, it doesn’t really reach the heights of other “East meets West” actioners like Red Sun Rising (1994), Sword of Honor (1996), American Dragons (1998), and especially all-time classic Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991). That’s because this came out in 2000, a death-time for DTV product. It even brings to mind the dud Double Deception (2001) at times. Things were just better earlier on in our nation’s history. Sure, it has a classic “Final Warehouse Fight”, some casual racism, a conspiracy that goes all the way to the top, and a guy screaming his head off as he shoots a machine gun, but we were somehow hoping for something that tied it all together a bit more.
We do give the movie credit for the good amount of scenes that are spoken in Japanese and have subtitles. This showed to us that they were serious and it helped things along. However, most of the English dialogue consists of people shouting “what am I paying you for!??!” The Gary Daniels revenge plot should have been streamlined and more hardcore. Just a few years on from The Quest (1996), we have a very different-looking Jack McGee doing not very much and not being used properly...and is that Cuba Gooding SENIOR in a nothing role as a pawn shop owner? Not that we’re not happy to see him, but...WHY?
It also should be mentioned that a common phenomena in low-budget DTV product happens here: smaller-time actors are hired that look/behave like other actors (or should have BEEN other actors). For example, the guy that played Bronson also could have been Robert Patrick, Judd Nelson, Dean Cain, Frank Stallone, or Charlie Sheen during his “Charles Sheen” period. And the guy that played Mitchell, the police Lieutenant, could have been James Russo, Ed Lauter, or...or maybe we just watch way too many movies. But we’re clearly addicted and can’t get enough - and we do it all for YOU, our lovely readers. We live to inform you about movies like Fatal Blade. If that’s a crime, then call Richard Fox and have us arrested. (See, the fact that we think Richard Fox is a real person pretty well proves our initial point).
Gary Daniels is credited as Associate Producer, as is frequent Daniels collaborator George Cheung, and it features the West Coast gangsta rap track “187” by a rapper known as G-Sleep. Despite all this, Fatal Blade really should have been better. To be fair, there are some threads of the movie that stand out, but it was lacking in other areas. This Blade should have been sharpened to a finer point.
Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett
Also check out a write-up from our buddy Cool Target!