Honor (2006)

(2006)- * *

Directed by: David Worth

Starring: Roddy Piper, Russell Wong, Joanna Pacula, Jason Barry, Linda Park, 

LT Tyrell (Piper) is an L.A. cop and bar owner, and he and his wife Rose (Pacula) are thinking of packing it all up and retiring to Brazil. A guy named Ray (Wong) is the neighborhood baddie, who not only sends out his goons to get protection money from the local businesses, he also stages underground Punchfights. He also has a tragic history with Tyrell.

When the Tyrell's adopted son Gabriel (Barry) comes back from a Special Ops mission, he seems disturbed. The seemingly-ubiquitous Ray forces Gabriel to Punchfight for him, threatening that for every fighter Gabriel beats, that's one member of the Tyrell family he'll leave alone. Even Kate (Park), Tyrell's former partner, is powerless to stop all this feuding and brawling. Will it all be just a matter of HONOR?

Well, it's better than director David Worth's previous effort American Tigers (1996), but that's not saying much. Honor is humorless and dour; the problem with these latter-day Punchfighters is that by this point in time, viewers have seen this type of thing many, many times before. 

By the time the 2000's rolled around, makers of Punchfighters could not just retread the same old ground. They either had to bring something new to the table, or at least make it fun. Shootfighter (1993) had colorful characters that were clearly delineated, such as Boa and Mongoose. Fist Fighter (1989) had memorable characters such as Punchy. Warrior of Justice (1995) is just a spasm of pure insanity dreamt up by the fevered mind of Jorgo Ognenovski. Honor has none of these sorts of attributes. By 2006, what Honor was doing was pretty well-worn stuff.

Not that it's all bad, of course. Thankfully, the filmmakers had the good sense to make it 80 minutes. That was a blessing. Something like Honor should be 80 minutes. It's perfect for that sort of running time, and other makers of these sorts of things should "Honor" the viewers' time like this. So points go to them for that. Plus, it's always nice to see one of our heroes, Roddy Piper.

He gives one of his more serious dramatic performances that we've seen to date. The problem with the Tyrell character is that a nice guy like him isn't going to start busting heads right away. He has a long fuse, which means we have to wait quite a while until we see Roddy unleashed. 

Some people might not like that. However, viewers won't fail to miss the They Live graffiti on the wall, as it's shown twice, rather clearly. And Jason Barry as Gabriel was also rather brooding as the estranged son. Russell Wong stands out as the evil baddie that the audience can boo and hiss at.

The directorial career of David Worth is certainly a mixed bag. While we enjoyed Lady Dragon (1992) and Lady Dragon 2 (1993), and Chain of Command (1994), not to mention True Vengeance (1997), we have mixed feelings about Air Strike (2004). We weren't crazy about Soldier's Revenge (1986) and the aforementioned American Tigers is pretty awful. We've been on the record for years about how we think Kickboxer (1989) is overrated. Honor falls into the mid-range/end of the Worth spectrum. It's not entirely "Worth"-less but it definitely could have used some color or pizazz of some sort.

So, for the Piper factor and the reasonable running time, Honor may be 'worth' checking out for Punchfighting fans. But keep your expectations tamped.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

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