Writing or directing a fighting movie is kinda like booking a wrestling card. In theory, you need to create a strong but flawed babyface who is fighting for a cause or fallen friend. The antagonist or main heel is usually completely evil and has the face of being completely untouchable. But in order to build up this reputation, he must also go through some minor good guys to get over his image. In addition, the babyface must go over minor bad guys to do the same exact thing. In the end, you create a hero who comes in to save the day and vanquishes the victim. Street Warrior is one of those movies that follows this script by the book and makes for some decent excitement while the movie is at it.
The Gauntlet has claimed another victim. Joey Campbell (played by Brandon Quinn) has fallen at the hands of Isaiah Griffin (played by Sidney S. Liufau) and is now in a coma at the local hospital. His brother, Jack (played by Max Martini) has been discharged from the army for beating the crap out of a superior officer (no reason is given). He comes home and breaks up a robbery of a local convenience store where his friend Maggie (played by Valerie Cruz) works. However, once he gets to his brother’s house and is treated to his sister-in-law Sarah’s (played by Erin Cottrell) tearful embrace, he realizes something is very wrong.
After visiting his brother at the local hospital, Jack starts to look for answers. He visits a local strip joint (always good for gratuitous nudity) and pushes the owner Georgie Bautista (played by Max Perlich) for information which escalates into a huge bar fight. The bar fight does not go un-noticed as the promoter of the Gauntlet, Mr. Pope (played by Nick Chinlund) gets a copy of the video and is intrigued by the fighter. He decides to put his plan into motion by kidnapping Sarah and forcing Jack to fight for his sister-in-law and his brother’s pride. Can Jack overcome the odds by surviving the 8 man tournament style gauntlet and defeating Isaiah in a special challenge match while his brother fights for his own life? Or will Mr. Pope’s reign of terror just collect another paycheck in his taste for blood?
In this movie, Jack is a pretty convincing good guy. He helps out females, he fights for his family and he helps out those in the Armed Forces with their bags. As we work through the movie, we want to root for him and hope he conquers the gauntlet and ends the terror of Mr. Pope. (oh and that he punches Watkins’ (a local dirty cop played by Jayden Lund) lights out.) The other actors and actresses aren’t bad and do provide good fodder. I enjoyed the interaction between the fighters as well the budding relationship between Jack and Maggie (like you didn’t see that coming from their first scene together).
The fighting or the booking of fights in this movie does have cause for concern. Perhaps I spend too much time watching wrestling and MMA fights, but I do find myself becoming a critic for how fights are scripted or how one fighter goes over another. I felt that this “gauntlet” simply didn’t have enough heels or tweeners (term used for fighters who can double as a good guy & bad guy) for Jack to be effective. Furthermore, typically the extra good guys never felt all that good or all that important. You simply didn’t feel like they had a good cause and were just waiting for their exit from the tournament. One only needs to look at movies like Bloodsport to find effective examples of good movie fighting booking.
The film is presented in 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen. This is pretty good as straight to dvd releases go, keeping the color bright even in the grittiest fighting arena or darkened room. The quality is top-notch and it doesn’t hurt that actresses such as Jane Park Smith (plays the role of Ms. Lee; Mr. Pope’s partner) are really easy on the eyes. The only complaint I have is the inability to let fights play out instead of framing action-shots together. Fights really need build in order to be satisfying.
The audio is provided in 5.1 English Dolby Digital. The dvd sounds pretty good. It doesn’t show off the surrounds all that much, but dialog is clear and stays centered throughout the movie. I only wish there was more oomph in the movie as I think the action could have benefited greatly from it. No subtitles are provided but thankfully the speech is clear and it isn’t really needed for this type of film.
- Automatic Trailers: Mask of the Ninja, Swamp Devil & Yeti
I was raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, a hotbed for wrestling in the 1980’s (this was the time period for my youth as well). My belief is if I had stayed there, I would be involved with wrestling on some level. Since I have a flair for story, my guess would be booking or the creative aspects. Here in Street Warrior, the story is good but the execution or booking leaves a lot to be desired. Jack is an extremely likeable character but the matches he is put in does little or no favor to his credibility. The villains are decent with a highlighted performance from Nick Chinlund as Mr. Pope. There are no extras here but the above average video and audio do help the disc quite a bit. In my best Mr Skin impression; sorry guys but no nude or topless shots of Jane Park Smith or Valerie Cruz are in the movie (I’m sure some were wondering with the “R/Nudity” rating). I give this a hearty rental recommendation. It’s good and mindless for a Saturday night but you probably don’t want this in your permanent collection.