I always thought “blood brothers” referred to some oath made with the mingling of blood, because there’s a simpler term for two males with the same parents – “brothers”. And yes, I realise criticising part of the title, when there’ve been three films now called “No Retreat No Surrender” that feature multiple examples of retreating and surrendering, is an exercise in futility.
Returning from part 2 are scriptwriter Keith Strandberg and star Loren Avedon; although Avedon doesn’t play the same character – he’s now Will Alexander, martial arts coach and son of John, who’s high up in the CIA, as is brother Casey. Will, though, is a free spirit who doesn’t like what “The Company” is up to, wearing a jacket emblazoned with Soviet symbols to his Dad’s birthday party for example, and he and his brother have a very tough relationship. Unfortunately, John is murdered by a group of terrorists but will the two brothers patch up their differences and fight together? Or use their own skills and tactics to get close to the evildoers?
This film’s in a tough position because by 1990 Soviet “communism” was collapsing all over the world, and it’s even obvious to the makers of low-budget martial arts movies that the USSR was no real threat to America, and indeed didn’t want to be. The IMDB lists the bad guys as the mafia, but they’re not really *anything*- their initial desire is revenge, then it turns out they’re after a Mozambique diplomat in order to provide a smokescreen for a plot to assassinate the President, for reasons unknown (fair play to ‘em, though, they get pretty close to succeeding).
Someone associated with this movie had just discovered the internet, it seems. John tries to find personal information on someone via his home PC (if only he’d know how easy it would become) and Casey gets his CIA buddy to check for something on the work database. In perhaps the greatest cost-saving measure in the history of computers on film, when the screen flashed up “Access Denied” it was just someone typing it in on a Commodore Amiga’s “Notepad” program. Well done, movie! Perhaps they just had a bad tech guy – the music playing over the funeral is a horribly out-of-tune synthesiser, pretending to be martial horns and trumpets.
The final part of the good guy cast is Wanda Acuna as Maria, who’s introduced as part of a montage of women in bikinis posing for the camera like it’s a segment on a beauty pageant, so I wasn’t even sure if she was supposed to be in the film properly until we discover that Casey helped her leave her life of…prostitution, probably?…years before, and therefore they both have a relationship to the gang of terrorists (who also “run” girls, it would seem). Casey uses her to infiltrate the gang, while Will arranges for his friends to start a fight with him in a bar so he can defend one of the gang, get himself in their good graces and go undercover.
This is a pretty weak entry in the series, to be honest. Loren Avedon is a great fighter, and Keith Vitali, who plays Casey, is a former world karate champion and feels like an expert screen fighter from the very beginning. But what he isn’t is an actor, and every time he tries it feels slightly embarrassing – although it turns out it might not be entirely his fault, as Avedon would insist on improvising his lines all the time, and Vitali’s learned lines made no sense in context. When Avedon was told to stop improvising, he’d get annoyed at the crew as well, which must have made for a weird atmosphere. I’ve always said it’s easier to train martial artists to be actors, than is it to train actors to be martial artists, but after this movie I’m not so sure.
They cram what amounts to the plot of “Commando” into the last half hour, but it’s sort of half baked and uninteresting, like they just couldn’t be bothered to have enough stuff happen. The big twist makes absolutely no sense whatsoever and the original script called for no final reconciliation between the brothers – Avedon insisted otherwise, and the director (Lucas Lo, a last minute replacement for Corey Yuen) gave him one take, which is what was used.
This entire series is “unquels”, and it only gets worse from here – parts 4 and 5 aren’t even primarily known as “No Retreat, No Surrender”, and part 5 apparently has a very similar plot to part 1, as if they forgot they’d already made it. Let’s hope they improve back to the levels of part 2!
Rating: thumbs down