“Bloodfist” is the “American Horror Story” of its day, only….well, okay, it’s not much like that at all. So far, Don “The Dragon” Wilson has played three different characters (although the name is the same in 1 and 2, they’re not the same person) and now moves into a completely different genre – from martial arts tournament movies to prison movies. There’s not really too much fighting in this one, either, despite the rather misleading subtitle (“Forced To Fight”).
This is the movie that proves that prison dramas and high-school dramas are pretty much the same thing. Fish out of water? Check. Close-knit cliques? Check. Weirdo getting bullied in the cafeteria? Check. Okay, there’s more rape and murder, plus less romance, in prison movies, but I think the point stands.
Don is just a guy in prison who breaks up a rape and in the heat of battle kills the rapist, who’s also the prison’s main drug dealer. This upsets the low-level dealers in Cell Block C, so the Warden, who’s all about moving up the political ladder, puts Don in there with Stark (the great Richard Roundtree), hoping that the people who get revenge on Don will also kill Stark, the prison lawyer who’s a huge thorn in his side. A problem with this tactic becomes apparent if you think about it – why put the powderkeg next to the flame if you’re trying to keep things quiet so you can run for office? – but if you can get over that, then…you’ll still be a bit puzzled by this movie. He has this idea that Cell Block C is this evil den, but it seems super-nice, in terms of prisons.
The gangs in this prison seem to be able to decorate their areas! I don’t know if this is a regular thing, but the Stark-led group of happy inmates that Don falls in with have their own little area, fenced off from the rest of the prison, where they can watch TV, cook pasta, do a spot of gardening and generally have a pretty good time of it. Also, the two main black cast members are very conscious, political men, with walls covered in pictures of black revolutionaries and dialogue full of angry politics. I even thought it might have been riding on the coattails of “The Shawshank Redemption” until I noticed this movie is 2 years older.
There’s a decent case for Don Wilson not even being the star of this movie – Roundtree has more lines, more of an arc and is, of course, a much better actor; although when he says “I’ll be out of here in 12 days” alarm bells ought to ring with us all. Don says stuff like, while looking over a nearby road, “lots of people out there in their own little prisons”, which indicates the writers didn’t bother giving him any of the good lines either.
There’s lots of positives to “Bloodfist 3”. They hired a better soundtrack guy, that’s for sure; and the way there are no real villains among the inmates, not even (if we’re being generous) the two people who try and kill Don at the end, is interesting. Even the guy who’s almost certainly a paedophile is on the good side; plus, they give the villain from part 1 and 2 a cameo in a rather clever way, by showing a clip of him in 70s blaxploitation classic “TNT Jackson”. However, while Don looks great in the fight scenees, having a unique style, he seems to have regressed as an actor (he’s way outside his comfort zone, I guess).
I just feel it could have done with a rewrite. A guy who fairly clearly dies is walking round happy at the end, and there’s a ton of other loose threads that could have done with trimming. But thought’s been put into this, unlike the first two Bloodfist movies, and I feel bad that it didn’t come together. An interesting experiment, for sure, but it killed off the cinema run of this franchise, making $35,000 at the box office (ye gods) and ensuring the rest of the series would be straight-to-video.
Rating: thumbs in the middle