Thursday, 7 August 2008

Final Impact



FINAL IMPACT (1992)

Directed by: Stephen Smoke & Joseph Merhi
Screenplay: Stephen Smoke
Starring: Lorenzo Lamas, Kathleen Kinmont & Michael Worth

A solid meat and potatoes kickboxing flick, that may seem cheap and dated today but still packs a punch, a little bit of heart and some crunching fighting action. Stephen Smoke (who also made the excellent PM Entertainment flick, Street Crimes) writes and directs, with a little help from Joseph Merhi, a quality tale of a dried up ex champ who sees one last shot at redemption by training a young hot shot and entering him in the Las Vegas kickboxing championships. Lamas gets one of his best roles as the grizzled old champ, Nick, and is obviously relishing the chance to play a character who, to be honest, is a bit of an asshole. The chemistry between him, Danny (Worth, also from Street Crimes) and Maggie (Kinmont) is tight. Danny is the blue eyed hero in training but is perhaps a little more savvy than first thought while Maggie (Lamas’ real life squeeze at the time) provides the emotional core as the three form a sort of surrogate family. Maggie and Nick’s rocky relationship receives as much hits as the opponents in the ring and helps to flesh out characters that usually don’t get the chance in these kinds of movies.

Being a B-movie and especially a PM Entertainment B-movie, the supporting acting is often ropey, the music ridiculous and the story nothing fresh. But the main cast more than make up for this, along with the Las Vegas locations giving the film a bit of pizzazz and the copious amount of fights. Don’t expect any car chases or gun fights (a rarity for a PM Entertainment film) as Final Impact is strictly a fight flick and the entire better for it. No fancy, intricate or sustained fights ala Hong Kong movies but brutal, crisp and often inventive kickboxing fights that mix up blocks, takedowns and some fancy kicks. Worth is excellent as usual, a gifted fighter who gets to shine on more than one occasion, while Lamas gets to show off a couple of times to good effect. Watch out for a whole host of former fight movie regulars including Art Camacho, Mimi Lesseos, Jeff Langton, Ian Jacklin (blink and you’ll miss him) and the great Gary Daniels. An early appearance from Daniels who gets two fun fights with Worth.

The 1990s was a great time for these kinds of American kickboxing movies and Final Impact is one of the best if not very well known. Focusing more on story and loads of kickboxing action instead over the top craziness, Final Impact is great nostalgic martial arts fun and a top fight flick as well.

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