Tuesday, 29 July 2008

To Be The Best


Directed by: Joseph Merhi
Screenplay: Michael January
Starring: Michael Worth, Martin Kove & Steven Vincent Leigh

Ridiculous but occasionally enjoyable early 90s action film from the PM Entertainment stable, that gets by on Michael Worth’s star quality and his impressive kickboxing skills. He is one part of a fighting team trained by his father (Kove) who represent America in an international kickboxing tournament held in Las Vegas. Predictability soon settles in as members of the team are asked to throw fights, Worth’s impending nuptials go tits up and a bunch of gangsters flex in trying to make a quick buck. This all leads to the inevitable showdown between the American team and the “dastardly” Thai team. Guess who wins?

Unfortunately, To Be the Best is missing the charm of many low budget kickboxing films of the time. Things just don’t gel for some reason. Kove (The Karate Kid) is unforgivably sidelined for most of the movie and the whole subplot of Worth and his girl getting married and then not, with her instantly shacking up with someone else, is so ridiculous and tedious you just wish for the fighting to start. This being a PM film and one directed by Joseph Merhi means we have to get a pointless car chase and helicopter crash in for no good reason. I’m all for a car chase and helicopter explosions but not in a kickboxing movie. Plus the car chase is so randomly inserted (and has been seen in many other PM films) and serves no purpose while the helicopter crash is perhaps one of the barmiest openings to a film you are likely to see.

However, once the fighting starts it's not all bad. The fights are crisp and clean if never groundbreaking, a fun tussle on top of a skyscraper the highlight, and Worth certainly shows he has the moves. Worth has always been a likeable lead and a great martial artist but suffers here from his character being a bit of an annoying git. He’s much better in another PM flick, Street Crimes, one his best earlier roles and one of PM’s best films. So To Be the Best isn’t the worst kickboxing movie or PM Entertainment film ever made but it’s far from the best. If you have to see every 1990s kickboxing action flick, then you might want to check it out.

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