Saturday, 21 March 2009
Day of the Panther
DAY OF THE PANTHER (1988)
Directed by: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Screenplay: David Groom & David West
Starring: Edward Hon Stazak, Jim Richards & John Stanton
“Hello, I’m Jason Blade and I want a job!”
Despite an over abundance of cheese, some lame acting and a heap of bad 80s fashion and styling, Day of the Panther is actually a bad ass little martial arts film. And that’s not always something you can say about a kung fu flick from Australia. The story never breaks innovative ground, as Stazak’s kung fu expert, Jason Blade, attempts to infiltrate a gang of drug dealing slimeballs who are responsible for the death of his partner. Blade is a disciple of the Secret Panther School (which ain’t very secret as every damn character seems to know about it) which means he is a dab hand at dishing out the roundhouse kicks.
Now, Day of the Panther is strictly B-movie cheese with mucho hammy acting and impromptu disco dancing a go-go. The bad guys are cheese city, comic book 101, especially henchman Baxter (Richards)who is lumbered with some of the worst clothes and sunglasses ever seen on a movie bad guy. Stazak himself seems to be smirking throughout the whole movie, no matter the scene or situation, as if trying to stifle a laugh every time he says a line and continually refers to himself in the third person and by his full name, Jason Blade. There are also a couple of “comedy” cops on the trail of, well, everyone who appear to provide very little comedy.
However, despite the ridiculous factor Day of the Panther still manages to be a tight little martial arts film. Director Trenchard-Smith (who has directed everything from Turkey Shoot and BMX Bandits to Leprechaun 3 & 4) keeps everything moving at a tight clip with frequent bursts of awesome fighting action. Stazak obviously knows his stuff and cuts loose in a series of brutal, precision timed fights that are fun to watch due to clear cut camerawork, editing and Stazak’s awesome kicking powers. Day of the Panther is certainly jammed packs with fights the highlights being an extended chase/fight through an industrial estate and Blade kicking the crap out of a bunch of goons at a marina: bone cracking, fluid kicking fun.
A gem of a B-movie that is equal parts unintentionally funny due to its dated execution but also very entertaining thanks to the excellent boot-work of its star, who’s only other movie credit was the immediate sequel to the this flick: Strike of the Panther.