Friday, 5 August 2011
Circle Man (aka Last Man Standing)
CIRCLE MAN (1987)
Directed by: Damien Lee
Written by: David Mitchell & Damien Lee
Starring: Vernon Wells, Michael Copeman, William Sanderson, Sonja Belliveau, Franco Columbu, Real Andrews
One time Road Warrior nemesis and John Matrix botherer, Vernon Wells, got a shot at leading action man status in this low rent but surprisingly enjoyable Canadian produced tournament fight flick. More of a street fight/boxing style fight flick rather than a martial arts picture, Circle Man has all the absurdity and low budget wackiness found in these kinds of films but finds time for some character interaction between all the knuckle dusting and has a kind of easy going charm thanks to the likable lead and an array of eccentric characters.
It's your typical story of a down and out fighter who is a little too old and a little too washed up to fight anymore. Trying to turn his life around and look out for his friends, Roo (Wells) decides to dust off the fists one last time and score big before retiring for good and leading the good life with his lady friend. But he's got to deal with a dodgy fight promoter, go up against tough young guns who are leaner and meaner than him and get through several obligatory training montages before he can quit the fight life for good.
This is an earlier cheapie effort from action cheapie specialist Damien Lee (Abraxas, No Exit) and the low rent vibe adds to the blue collar, working-for-a-dollar, down-on-his-luck atmosphere. While the acting at times can be distinctly amateur and over-the-top, Wells at least comes off likable as he goes about doing good by everyone all the while surrounded by a whole host of off-the-wall characters. Not least Batty (one time Arnie stunt double and weight lifting buddy, Franco Columbu) who is completely bonkers after being hit in the head one two many times and spends most of his scenes jumping up and down and ranting insanely.
The fights are mainly saved for the second part of the film and while not intricately choreographed they have a fairly brutal appeal as the fighters trade blows in a less flashy style. Equal parts silly and oddly endearing, Circle Man is a surprisingly entertaining mix of drama and fight action that should appeal to tournament fight film fans and those who enjoy low budget, odd-ball cinema (and there is a fair few of us out there).