12 November 2012

# 600 - Breathing Fire

Yes it's true folks, this is officially our six-hundredth post on Lost Video Archive.
To commemorate I'm dropping a review that I've been sitting on for almost a year, something both representative -it is random and generally "low quality" (by normative standards, not mine)- but also atypical -it's on DVD and martial artsy. I love you all so much I give you this gift.

So please, raise a glass to Lost Video Archive and peruse my babblings on the nugget of 90's that is:

United States – 1991
Director – Lou Kennedy, Brandon Pender, Brandon De-Wilde
Echo Bridge Home Entertainment, 2004, DVD
Run Time - 1 hour, 26 minutes

Lesh do shome training....
When Uncle David comes to their father’s home in search of sanctuary, two brothers, Tony and Charlie (Jonathan Ke Quan) discover that the washed-up drunk is another in the long and vaunted cinematic tradition of expert martial-artist Vietnam veterans. Uncle David has taken custody of a young woman, the daughter of a war buddy who was killed by a ruthless criminal gang of (other) martial artists. When the thugs, including the ever-bulging Bolo Yeung come looking for the girl, the brothers want to help, but find that Uncle David is reticent to get them involved. When the thugs prove to be too much for David to handle, (even with the help of a pint of whiskey,) he reluctantly takes Tony and Charlie under his tutelage. In an inspiring and epic montage of choreographed grimaces, sincere grunts and underage shirtless-boy backslapping, Tony and Charlie become a hypothetically formidable low-rent recreation of Double Dragon.

Fortunately for the plot up to this point, the helpless female token has completely failed to recognize that her own host, Tony and Charlie’s father Mike is the leader of the very gang that smashed down her door and murdered her parents. Of course it helps that everyone else has also remained happily oblivious to Mike’s glaring sleaziness and casual indifference toward the pugnacious goons who keep dropping by to smash things and snatch the girl away. But that was before Charlie and Tony were green berets. Once they have tested their mad skills against some bartender-karate-midgets they have a revelation just in time for the big showdown with dad. Of course, as we’ve known all along thanks to some extremely convincing flashbacks, Mike is also the sociopathic, racist kung-fu ‘Nam vet who murdered Charlie’s Vietnamese mother during the war. Guilt-tripped by his brother into adopting the orphan, Mike got his revenge with the kid's name. The child will always be an enemy.  Nevertheless, this revelation comes just in time to unburden our spectatorial minds for the unambiguous third act climax.

With all of this historical mayhem revealed, the multigenerational camaraderie that has sustained tension until now predictably falters. Mike and Tony go their own ways and David and Charlie bitterly follow suit. But this premature bifurcation is not to last, for there remains a final reunification, a coming to terms which in the presence of anything “’Nam” must symbolically, if only superficially, represent the healing of the American nation itself. In a scene typical of the heartwarming coming of-age watered-down karate film that was so popular at the time, Charlie and Tony spar out their differences at the California State Tae Kwon Do Championships and all returns to normalcy in a moving fraternal-love-conquers-all freeze-frame embrace as the credits roll up and the salty eyeball liquid of joy rolls down.

Now that you're done with that, go read my friend Karl Brezdin's review of this fucker at his wonderful blog Fist of B-List. He's got better screen caps than me! Go!


Kev D. said...

I'd imagine it must be hard to watch this and not shout out NO TIME FOR LOVE DR. JONES all the time.

Awesome review.

The Goodkind said...

Yes, it is.

Ty said...

Great write-up!

We have a copy, but it's very scratched...working on getting it fixed.

The Goodkind said...

Thanks Ty. It's worth it, even if you have to buy a new one, I'm sure their dirt cheap. I actually browsed Comeuppance for a review I could link to before posting this. Hope to read yours soon!