Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

He’s called the ‘Black Cobra’!  Yes, we already have a movie on this site called ‘Black Cobra’, the completely awful, yet oddly captivating Fred ‘The Hammer’ Williamson vehicle he made back in the late 90’s, but this one is a bit more legitimate than that one.  For starters, unlike that old Black Cobra movie, they actually utter the word ‘Cobra’ in this one.  And that old ‘Black Cobra’ movie was just a ripoff of the even worse Stallone joint ‘Cobra’, where this movie is simply a ripoff of better kung fu movies, though they do make fun of ‘Cobra’ which was worth a little something. 

Dateline South Africa.  Sure, it looks like The Valley in SoCal but we’ll roll with the South African angle.  Apartheid may be over, but there are still political prisoners, such as Sipho Biko (Michael Chinyamurundi) who would be set free if he simply admitted to his crimes, but is the fight for freedom ever a crime?  Sipho doesn’t think so, so in jail he rots and his past is about to catch up to him.  It seems that Sipho is about to be killed in prison, hell if we know why, unless his kung fu enabled son Swize (T.J. Storm) can somehow pay a judge to set him free.  Problem is Swize has no loot, with the exception of the diamonds which have been in his family for years.  Unfortunately for Swizo, Mr. Racist over here (the great Robert Pike Daniel) doesn’t want him to have his diamonds, not that this is going to turn out well for Mr. Racist. 

Swize has to move these diamonds and damned if he doesn’t know a Diamond Moving Dude in his good friend Nicholas (Jeff Wolfe) in Los Angeles.  First he has to have a quick meet and greet with his sensei (Damion Portier), in a Clouseau / Kato styled encounter where the sensei kicks his ass and almost kills him with the always deadly Vibrating Palm technique, but that’s just his way of telling the young man that he loves him and to be careful. 

In L.A. Swize is picked up by his cousin Mpho (Sebati Edward Mafate) and his cousin’s two comic relief buddies before meeting up with Nicholas.  Note that Nicholas looks real untrustworthy.  Nicholas has arranged a meeting with Japanese businessman Mr. Tanaka

(the great Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) and all seems to go well until the tragic realization that the Double Cross was on.  Now Swize is sad because he has no diamonds, no cash and his dad will probably die, but he does have a really sour disposition right now and he’s going to make everybody pay by kicking them in the face real hard.  Action will eventually ensue.  Eventually.

Just so you know ‘Black Cobra’, directed by the duo of Lily Melgar and Scott Donovan, has an awesome trailer.  That trailer has all kinds of kick-ass, ass kicking stuff in it, it’s a trailer that would make any self respecting low budget action fan seek out this film.  I know it worked on me. Now it’s not that this trailer we speak of is altogether misleading, because everything that’s in the trailer is in the movie, it’s just that this was an advertised ass kicking action movie that was in desperate need of more ass kicking action. 

We start out with a little action, Swize laying some racist to waste, and it also setup the little diamond intrigue plot and we were feeling good about all of that.  Then we he encounters his sensei, and recognize that actor Damien Porter could be the coolest looking guy on the planet Earth… pause… things are looking positive.  However by the time we got introduced to Swize’s bitchy fiancée things started to go downhill.  The bitchy fiancée gave us very little in the way of substance for this movie, and by substance I mean watching people get kicked in the face.  It just opened the door for melodrama.  Now that we have that scenario opened up, it gave the filmmakers the opportunity to introduce another potential love interest which again gave us very little in what we wanted to see when we accepted the ‘Black Cobra’ challenge.  There’s a pair of private eye brothers in this movie that didn’t add much to the film, there’s an awesome looking girl ninja sighting in the movie which would’ve been cool if the ninja had actually started kicking some ass, which it looked like she could do, but instead she just prattled off some mindless ninja banter before giving Swize some ninja Tylenol, and there was lots of Swize wandering around Los Angeles doing the legwork as to where his diamonds or his money might be.  Not what we wanted to see.  We realize some of this stuff is necessary to build some semblance of a narrative, but we would’ve been happier seeing less of it.  Or none of it.  Plus it looked like nobody in this movie under the age of fifty was all that good at the craft of acting which kind of made the melodrama and wandering around a little more painful than need be.

But at least the movie closed out with some nicely choreographed fight sequences, finally getting a chance to see what T.J. Storm does best, and lots of dudes crashing through plate glass windows casually placed in convenient spots for them to crash through.  Now we have something we can work with. 

‘Black Cobra’ certainly isn’t the worst low bud martial arts movie we’ve seen, but with just a little more focus on the action, which might’ve cost prohibitive for all I know, I’m thinking it would’ve been a much more entertaining movie.

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