Full Contact (1993)- * * *
Directed by: Rick Jacobson
Starring: Jerry Trimble, Marcus Aurelius, Denise Buick, Reginald VelJohnson, and Michael Jai White
Luke Powers (Trimble) is a self-described "farm boy" who journeys to the dark underbelly of L.A. to get to the truth about his murdered brother. It turns out that Luke's bro was heavily involved with "Alley Fights" (what we call Punchfighting). To achieve his goal, he links up with Pep (Aurelius), a fight trainer/alcoholic/Art of War quote enthusiast. Romance blooms with dancer Tori (Buick, whose only other feature film role is the same year's Angelfist). Will Luke be able to summon all of his POWERS to beat the baddies and find out what really happened to his sibling? And who is REALLY behind all this alley-fighing stuff? Make FULL CONTACT with your remote control and find out today...
Not to be confused with the prior year's Full Contact starring Chow Yun-Fat and Simon Yam, THIS Full Contact is a moment in time for fan favorite Jerry Trimble to shine. It all opens with textbook Punchfighting as enthusiastic fans scream, yell, and clutch cash in their hands as they enjoy said punching in an abandoned warehouse.
The whole thing has a very Corman feel, as he's done this plot numerous times before, i.e. Bloodfist, Dragon Fire, Bloodfist 2050, etc. There's also at least one scene in a strip club, which was a Corman trademark/obsession around this time period. Happily, we can report that Full Contact is one of the better run-throughs of this plotline. There's plenty of sax and synth on the soundtrack, there's ridiculously stupid dialogue (in a good way), wacky situations, and punching, punching, punching. Characters, mainly Trimble, jumpkick their opponents in slow motion as they just stand there waiting to be kicked in the head. Somehow, against all odds, this all gels in the world of Full Contact.
Trimble is great as he resembles a melange of Emilio Estevez, Sean Penn, and Kirk Douglas. Tori's initial dance routine is gold, and when she meets Luke Powers, both of them are clad head-to-toe in denim and they have long blonde hair. It's clearly a match made in 1993 heaven.
It starts to run out of steam when the tournament fighting begins about two-thirds of the way through, but we do give Full Contact full credit because they actually bothered to include a twist towards the end, which a lot of similar films never actually do. There's also the time-honored barfight. Plus, there's an utterly ridiculous stick fight near a dumpster, and Powers's main training goal is to outrun a city bus with a wacky bus driver.
Director Rick Jacobson, no stranger to this sort of material, also worked as a fight coordinator on the film, and has a cameo as "Bar Heckler". Early appearances from Michael Jai White and Reginald VelJohnson round things out nicely. VelJohnson plays "Fighter #2", so if you've ever wanted to see Carl Winslow engaging in illegal alley fights, now's your chance.
The end titles song is "Sometimes You've Got To Fight", credited to no performer. The singer has an odd, quavering voice. Charles Philip Moore is one of the writers, who has a writer/director pedigree in the action field.
In the end, Full Contact is better than you might think. It's not intelligent, but it's entertaining. And that's the important thing.
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty
Also check out a write-up from our buddy, DTVC!