Don “The Dragon” Wilson is back, and so is about half the plot of part 1! He’s off to Manila again, without even a “I can’t believe I’m back here” line, or a quip about how the chief bad guy looks remarkably similar to the guy whose ass he kicked before. Corman produced both these movies and they represent two of the last films of the great run of Filipino-filmed genre cinema, which you can learn about with the amazing documentary “Machete Maidens Unleashed”.
Jake “The Dragon” Raye, same name different character (he plays different characters in all the other 6 “Bloodfist” movies), kills a man in the ring and retires from fighting, and is summoned from his pit of despair years later by a call from his old friend Vinny Petrello. Now, just run that name round your mind a moment. Vinny Petrello. Try and picture the person with that name. If you said “black guy and future UFC champion Maurice Smith” then your powers are strong, congratulations! He’s in gambling trouble in Manila and needs Jake to go and help him out – whether he also asked for similar help with acting classes is sadly unrecorded.
After demonstrating he’s faster than a trigger and meeting a few of Manila’s top martial artists |(not one of whom looks remotely Filipino), he’s bashed over the head, drugged and put on a boat for a secret island where there’s some sort of martial arts tournament (I supposed you could call that Typical Martial Arts Movie Plot 2); and every martial artist he met in Manila is on the boat too. Most comfortable in front of a camera is Timothy D Baker, a world champion in Shotokan karate and last seen by us in “No Retreat, No Surrender”, but most of them are good old fashioned terrible actors (they are all top level real world martial artists though).
The twist is, the martial artists aren’t fighting each other, and indeed immediately become friends. Their “host” Su is developing a super-steroid and wants to pit his fighters against the best in the world to show his investors just how good his product is. But Jake escapes and then decides to raid the compound and free his new friends…
It’s around this point that even the non-eagle-eyed will start noticing that there are some very bizarre technical choices. A helicopter flies some of the villains in, but you never see it in the air, or really stood next to it while it’s on the ground. What you do see is a large model helicopter, shot from angles that desperately try and make it look huge, and almost, almost, succeed. Then there’s the framing. The camera insists on panning across groups of people, but no-one thought “maybe we’d like to see everyone’s faces”, as heads are cut off, we get a lot of groin shots and it looks terrible. Cinematography in cheapo films like this should be invisible, because when you’re thinking about stuff like this you’re not enjoying the “plot” and the fighting.
What’s odd is how quickly Su’s plan falls to pieces – I won’t spoil too much for you, as it’s available for free on Youtube and you ought to watch it, but the last 20 minutes or so is pretty unusual for a movie like this. We do, however, get another example of a room full of ordinary people cheering on the murder of champion martial artists (yes, a few of them do die), which just remains one of the odder choices of the cinema of the time. And the final battle does drag a bit (repeated scenes and all) so it’s not perfect.
But it’s quite a lot of fun, and worth a watch if you’ve enjoyed anything I’ve written about it. Plus, one of the bit-part actors is called “Romeo Opulencia”, which could be the greatest name any human being has possessed, ever.
Rating: thumbs in the middle