Thursday, 30 July 2015

Fatal Blade


FATAL BLADE (aka GEDO) (2000)

Directed by: Talun Hsu
Screenplay: Nao Sakai & Bill Zide
Starring: Gary Daniels, Kiyoshi Nakajo, Seiko Matsuda, Kentaro Shimizu & Victor Rivers

Gary Daniels plays tough LA cop (well, obviously!) Richard Fox who just doesn’t have the time to meet his girlfriend’s parents because, you know, he’s busy doing tough cop stuff. This involves staking out some nefarious crime lord called Bronson (Rivers) who when not hanging out with hot women in their underwear (well, somebody’s got to!) is committing crime all over LA. A local rival Yakuza gang want Bronson dead and send their top assassin from Japan, Domoto (Nakajo), to kill him. However, it all goes pear-shaped when Fox and his partner intervene which eventually leads to a high speed car chase which (wouldn’t you know it!) ends with the death of Fox’s partner. Thinking Domoto was the killer (he wasn’t, it was some other evil Yakuza type), Fox naturally swears revenge and goes gunning for it all over LA. Meanwhile, Domoto is injured, has a foxy female in tow (!), and now questions the motives of his Yakuza employers. In addition, Bronson is still alive and also looking for who tried to kill him, meaning there is a whole lot more going on than usual for a late 90s low budget action flick starring Gary Daniels. 


Fatal Blade has all the great traits of a 90s low budget American action film: Gary Daniels, 90’s fashions, bad guys rocking goatees, a dead partner, a hero who is just so darn committed to his work, a surfeit of decent action and blink and you’ll miss them cameos from stalwarts George Cheung, James Lew and, bizarrely, Cuba Gooding Jr’s dad (ok, so Cuba Gooding Jr’s dad is not necessarily a 90s low budget American action film trait but is certainly a bonus: I guess!). The whole film has the look and feel of the time period and looks exactly like a million other films that would have clogged up video stores in the 90s. Yet Fatal Blade does try to do something a bit different, attempting to include a bit more story and character than is usual for a straight-to-video action film. Daniels’ cop out for revenge is only a small part of proceedings with just as much time given to the story of Domoto and his blossoming relationship with the woman he has in tow. In fact there might be a bit too much going on in Fatal Blade, as there are at least 4 bad guys at one point and in the last act focus switches again, this time to Rivers’ goateed Bronson. No doubt this was probably a longer and more ambitious film, cut down to 90 minutes and unfortunately means Daniel’s feels more like a co-star than the leading action man.

Still, the film is nicely played and while there isn’t near enough action as one might be expecting what there is, is very good. While there are only a couple of fights, they are crisply choreographed by Alpaha Stunts alum Koichi Sakamoto and Akihiro Noguchi (Drive, Guyver: Dark Hero) meaning Daniels get’s to cut loose and show his impressive fight skills. He even gets that other well worn trait of having to chase down some goons (unrelated to the rest of the plot) just so he can stop in an alleyway and fight them so we know what a bad ass fighter he is: cool!

While it gets a little muddled and looses focus with its various plot strands and their characters, Fatal Blade nobly attempts to be more of a serious crime flick than an outright trashy action film and often succeeds at this but thankfully remembers to also bring some decent action and fights to the plate meaning one still gets to see Daniels’ kick some ass.  


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