Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

In 2005 Wayne Kennedy wrote, produced and directed a movie called ‘Lesser of Three evils’. And it sat. And it sat some more and it sat some more. Now after four long years have passed some executive at Lionsgate apparently found this film, and we all know that executives at Lionsgate are fairly soulless in what they release for us to watch, surmised that the title ‘The Lesser of Three Evils’ simply will not do and have renamed it to the much more explosive title of ‘Fist of the Warrior’. I can’t tell you the exact reasons why this film sat so long but a little research does reveal some legal issues and then a re-cut and then the title change of the film that has now been released for the world to see. I don’t know what the original cut of this film looked like but if it’s worse than the controlled nonsense we just watched here then it must have been pretty damn bad.

Ho Sung Park is brutal hitman Lee Choe and Lee wants out of the game. You see Lee has finally found his soul mate in Sarah the pretty coffee house girl (Robin Paul) and he has informed his crazed drug dealing boss John (Peter Greene) of his intentions, but apparently Lee doesn’t watch movies like we watch movies because we know the only way out of the game is in a pine box. So one day while maxing and relaxing with his girl in bed, some assassins break in to the apartment to kill Lee and rape his girl, but due to a rather conveniently placed six inch knife between the sheets the girls stabs the bad man, but gets shot in the process forcing Lee to take out these assassins that busted up in his crib with extreme prejudice.

So you would think this movie is all about Lee getting his revenge, but no… not really. Meet police detective Craig Barnes (Roger Guenveur Smith) who makes huge drug busts, is being relentlessly pursued by Internal Affairs, has a drunken unruly wife (Sherilyn Fenn) and is on John’s payroll. I think. John wants Craig to find Lee and kill him. I think. I’m not sure. So Craig does some police work by interviewing some cast

members from Star Trek: The Next Generation, Huggy Bear playing the worlds worst priest and others in his attempt in trying to get a ‘feel’ for Lee and what his next move will be.

Actually this shouldn’t be so hard since Lee has made it clear his next move is to kill John and everybody in his organization, and since he already killed half of the criminals in Los Angeles I’d just follow the trail of bodies. We don’t actually get to see him do all of this killing but they did tell us this is what happened, so who am I to doubt them.

As you might imagine, eventually it has to come down to Lee coming down face to face with John. What you probably won’t be able to imagine is how incredibly anti-climactic this showdown will actually be. Quite honestly I don’t think I’ve ever seen a ‘showdown’ quite like this before.

‘Fist of the Warrior’ is a really, really strange movie. It seems that, especially as it comes near its conclusion, that huge chunks of the movie are missing because by the time the movie ends it just stops making any kind of logical sense at all. Characters pop in and pop out, scenes occur which may be real or may be imagined, plot elements that seemed to be going in one direction are dropped while others seem to appear out of the blue… it’s just a big old jumbled mess. Ho Sung Park is listed as the films star, and true enough the movie centered around his quest for revenge, but he doesn’t really have a lot of screen time. In fact they play, in flashback form, this one scene of him and his girlfriend lying in bed over and over and over again. Sometimes it’s in black and white, sometimes its sepia toned, sometimes it strobes, but it is the same scene. Thus we have Roger Guenveur Smith and his signature acting style who is the true star of this movie since he gets the most screen time by far, as we spend most of the time in this movie stressing about him an his drunk wife, and his IA case, and his dirty dealings more than anything else. Sometimes it works because he does have the best lines in the movie and Roger Guenveur Smith can deliver a line like few can, but following his character around turns what we thought was going to be an action movie into one incredibly lame ass melodrama.

Now as a side note, recognizing that I’m no theologian on Catholicism, isn’t the whole confessional thing supposed to be like private? Should a priest broadcast or tape some dudes confession for the world to hear? I don’t think so but then I could be wrong, or this is what you get when you go into a confessional booth with Antonio Fargas.

With its laundry list or recognizable actors including the always rare Ed Marinaro sighting and a super fit kung fu master for a star, ‘Fist of the Warrior’ looked like it had some promise to be at least a sleeper of a fun movie to watch. I will admit it did have its moments as the few fight scenes were pretty good and though the premise is a tired one, if done right we will never get tired of watching the singular badass seeking ass kicking revenge. And it still might be that sleeper hit you’re looking for if you like your action flick weighted down with heavy melodrama and a showdown that features the good guy vs. the bad guy with the bad guy tied to a chair unable to defend himself. Generally speaking that’s not what I’m looking for in my action flicks which means that ‘Fist of the Warrior’ didn’t give me a helluva lot to recommend it.

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