Kick Of Death (1997)


Kick Of Death
(1997)- * *

Directed by: David Avellone

Starring: Michael Guerin, Rodigo Obregon, Melissa Allen, TJ Storm, Vernon Wells, and David Heavener

Shane McQuade (Guerin) is an underground Punchfighter/Martial Artist who is dominating the Hong Kong fight scene. When some baddies, apparently led by a Mr. Lee, begin to, let's just say, make life more difficult for the Shanester in HK, he flees to Las Vegas to try to start anew. But his same old woes keep popping back up: he unwisely accepts a ride through the Nevada desert from a shady character named Vinnie Vasta (Obregon), but then Shane assumes his identity when he starts work as a bouncer at a strip club. Romance is in the air with one of the strippers, Angelique (Allen)...or is it? When Angelique is kidnapped, Shane is forced to fight the reigning evil baddie on the scene, Abdul Sabbah (Storm). But will things ever go Shane McQuade's way? And who will deliver the ultimate KICK OF DEATH?

Is this an apartment in a bad neighborhood? Because it sure is LOW RENT. According to Imdb, Kick of Death was shot in 13 days on a budget of $15,000. My response to those numbers: That much? It looks like less. Now, JUST because something is low budget doesn't mean the end product has to be junky. In this case, however, it pretty much is. There are the usual picture quality (some scenes in total blackness) and sound (blurry and muffled) issues, but the main problem is that you just don't care much about any of the characters or what they're doing.

You don't hate Shane McQuade or anything, but you don't love him either. He's like a neutral hero. David Heavener (who also gets a story credit) appears briefly in the beginning as Alderton, a man with blonde hair and an Australian (?) accent. Then there's the other fan favorite here, a real Aussie, Vernon G. Wells. Both guys have glorified cameos, as this, for better or worse, is the Shane McQuade story.

The main baddie is played by TJ Storm, from The Ultimate Game (2001) and many other fight-based outings. Here, he is credited as simply "Storm". He also took credit for the fight choreography. It's not his best work. Maybe he wasn't so proud of it that he needed the world to know it was by TJ. He probably hoped people would think it was by another Storm. Many, if not most, of the fight scenes are awkwardly and amateurishly done. Perhaps it wasn't his fault, but the movie as a whole isn't entertaining enough for the audience not to notice, or find it funny.

Which then brings us to the sluggish pace of all this. Why did this need to be ninety-FIVE minutes? Bad enough it wasn't an even 90, it should have been 79. But 95 minutes. Okay, if you say so, dude. Maybe director Avallone - who never did anything action-related before or since - was trying to emulate the Roger Corman school of thought that scenes of people driving or extended stripping routines make an engaging film for the audience. But at least Corman made 80-minute films. He also tried to keep his top stars in the film for more than just a few brief minutes.

Maybe we're being a bit too harsh on Kick of Death. But even with its meager resources, certain aspects could have been improved. We have seen worse, after all. But bargain-basement productions like this will not appeal to most people. Only die-hards who can't resist a title like "Kick of Death" will actually watch Kick of Death.

Not to be confused with Kick or Die (1987), Kick of Death features the introspective end-credits song, "Your World Will Change" by Darryl Jensen. This should have played at the beginning of the film as Shane McQuade is walking down a dusty old highway, thinking about his life. Then the music changes to heavier, guitar-based metal/rock as Shane fights off wave after wave of baddies (and the punches and kicks actually appear to connect). See, we could have fixed this movie.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

No comments: