Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

I can only imagine but it looks like a bunch of my Italian brothers, particularly Mario Bava’s baby boy Lamberto, decided to get together and decided to make an American styled revenge flick based on their translation of the deep American south and call it ‘Blastfighter’. Does that sound like a good idea to you? Trust me, it was not. It’s a terrible idea and the execution of this terrible idea was equally terrible. Does this mean that Lamberto Bava’s homage to lunacy and Rambo wasn’t completely awesome? No my friends, because it was all kinds of awesome.

Eight years ago a madman killed the partner and butchered the wife of New York cop Jake ‘Tiger’ Sharpe (Michael Sopkiw). You would think that crimes that heinous that would get this whackjob put away, but this lunatic was the district attorney’s lover. Apparently. I’m inferring here. Nonetheless, Tiger blows this sucker away right in front of this district attorney and gets eight years in the pen. Now one would think premeditated murder right in front of the top law official of New York City would get one more than eight years in the pen, but there it is.

For eight years all Tiger thought about was killing this D.A., and his boy even got him a super awesome gun… let’s call it a Blastfighter for grins and giggles… but when it came time to pull the trigger, he decided to U-Turn from that dead-end street and just go on back home to the hills of Georgia to live out his days in peace and quiet. As if.

The problem with this plan is Wally (Stefano Mingardo). Wally uses the woods of Georgia as his personal slaughtering ground, where he and his hick friends kill animals and take them to the ‘gook’ or the ‘chink’ as they affectionately call this guy, and sell him these tortured animals for profit. Tiger frowns on this kind of behavior, but Tiger minds his own business because Wally is the younger brother of his former best friend and current town big-shot Tom, as played by the legendary George Eastman. Then Wally had to go and slit the throat of Bambi, which got Wally and his boys a sound ass-kicking and got the Chinaman run out of town.

Things get more complicated for Tiger when this young woman appears out of nowhere and starts trying to take care of him. As it turns out, this is his daughter Connie (Valentina Forte) and even though the last time he saw this daughter of his she ten years old, and now she’s eighteen, he should probably still have recognized her. Tiger Sharpe… worst dad ever… by his own admission. Regardless, after Wally tries to kill Tiger and Connie by blowing up their car, Tiger has decided to move on, and he even went to tell Tom this, who agrees that it’s best for all, while yukking it up over that fight they had when they were kids and Tiger cracked his leg forcing him to walk with a pronounced limp for the rest of his days. Good times. Tom should’ve told Wally and his boys this news because this crew of miscreants have gone and murdered a couple of people while trying to rape Connie. One of these people was Tiger’s friend the cop who gave him the Blastfighter, and they killed him accidentally while he was trying to save Connie from getting raped. Then Wally decided that everybody must die since they saw him kill a cop, but raping somebody in front of a cop, and assaulting this cop, and assaulting some other dude was okay?

Regarldess, it’s on. Tiger has a battalion of armed and crazed hicks on his tail through the treacherous Georgia woods, he has no weapons, an injured whiney daughter, and the Blastfitgher is back at the cabin. Still, if he can just get his baby girl out unscathed, all will be okay. Oh well… so much for that. Oh Wally… because of you the population of Northern Georgia is about to become a whole lot thinner.

Let’s get one thing clear, these are hicks that Tiger is slaughtering, not hillbilly’s. A hillbilly lives in the woods, and lives off the land. A hick lives in small towns near the woods, goes to the small corner market, and says YEEHAW a lot. I know this because I’m part hillbilly so let’s not get it confused. Anyway, the problems with ‘Blastfighter’ are many. For starters it appears that everything Lamberto Bava knows about the American South he absorbed from watching movies and ‘Dukes of Hazzard’. American southerners like to ride in pickup beds, they like to shoot guns in the air, they like to whoop and holler… a lot… and they aren’t very bright in regards to their safety and well-being. Around the eighth time Tiger blew somebody’s arm off or exploded yet another Jeep with his awesome Blastfighter, I would’ve come to the logical conclusion that this situation, whatever it is, just ain’t worth dying over. Not these guys. Bava paces his movie far too slowly, at least until we get to the tour de force, action overflowing third act, some of the performances were pretty darned painful to watch and sadly… we are looking at you Ms. Forte, as lovely as you might be… and if I hear that country song ‘The Evening Star’ one more time… I will seriously choke somebody. I don’t care if the Bee Gee’s did write it.

But what makes ‘Blastfighter’ awesome? Simple. Sopkiw, Eastman, rednecks. While these rednecks are a pure embarrassment to real rednecks the world over, their constant whoopin’ and yeehawin’ and pickup truck bed ridin’ was pure comic gold. While we enjoyed Michael Sopkiw more in the semi-cannibal classic ‘Massacre at Dinosaur Valley’, taking in consideration that Tiger was a downer to hang out with for the first half of this movie, by the time he turned into the single-minded of purpose, heat seeking missile of hillbilly hell, this movie got a lot better. Yes, Tiger is a Hillbilly, not a hick. This is why we could buy the fact that one mad hillbilly could easily slaughter up to six hundred hicks all by himself. Then there’s George Eastman… in flannel… showing all the emotion of a dead hooker. And for George Eastman, that works.

Sure, ‘Blastfighter’ is a dumb title for a ‘Deliverance’ styled revenge movie… there’s a story behind that that we’re not going get into… and yes, it was probably a bad idea to have the kings a disco write a country song… realizing that Barry Gibb also wrote ‘Islands in the Stream’… need I say more? And Italian actors with fake American names yelling YEEHAW a lot didn’t work all that well, but that’s when taken separately. Add these crap items together as one cohesive unit, and you have magic. Where are you Michael Sopkiw… a potential legend who left the game far too early. Not that he's dead or anything.

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