Fists of Rage a.k.a. Honor, 2006.
Directed by David Worth.
Starring Jason Barry, Russell Wong, Roddy Piper and Linda Park.
Two street warriors come to understand that not every battle is fought for money or power.
Familiarity can be a good thing. An old pair of trainers that fit smoothly and snugly to your cheese hooves, and feel as if at one with your flesh. It’s comfortable, it’s nice, and it’s safe. Trouble is, familiarity also breeds boredom. Those trainers now look dull, lifeless, and ready for the dustbin. They smell a bit too much. Fists of Rage isn’t the safe old pair of trainers you still love, and want to wear again and again. Fists of Rage is the whiffy pair, with holes in the lining, worn laces and a colour that’s turned from fresh white, to baby sick over the course of a few hundred jogs round the park. Fists follows standard fighting film formula, never doing anything new, nor never really tapping into the audiences sense of nostalgia and comfort.
Former neighbourhood friends, Gabriel and Ray have been apart since their late teens. Since that time, Ray, has become a drug lord and runs the town, whilst Gabriel has been serving in the military. When Gabriel returns, Ray wants him to join him and fight for him, because of course, Gabe is the best of the best when it comes to kicking ass and taking names. Gabriel refuses, putting his friends and family at risk. And… yep, right up until the inevitable showdown. This is standard fare, under the direction of David Worth, who is best known as the cinematographer of Van Damme’s Bloodsport and as director of Van Damme’s Kickboxer. When it comes to standard fighting films, he should know his stuff and deliver the goods. Unfortunately not.
The major problem is the lack of any decent action. The fights are uninspired, and the direction, editing and sound all lacklustre, meaning the punch has no punch! Worse still, leading man Jason Barry (Gabriel) is heavily doubled throughout. What has happened here, is the one break away from routine for this film, was to hire an “actor” as opposed to a martial artist. Now this is a fight film, so ideally, the leading man should be doing the fighting himself. It would make filming them easier, without the need to try to hide a double. The casting decision is also made more ponderous by Barry’s rote performance. It’s totally one note to say the least. He’s given little to do besides scowl his way through the movie like a moody adolescent. It shouldn’t be called Fists of Rage, it should be called Fists of Sullenness, or better yet, Fists of Irritable Bowel Syndrome!
Elsewhere the cast is okay. Russell Wong makes a serviceable bad guy, though his role is painfully generic, as are most of his performance quirks. He reels off a whole host of bad guy cliches. Everything from stance, holding of gun, the way he sniffs aggressively before saying something threatening, to the tried and tested “really mean stare.” Roddy Piper tries his best to elevate his scenes. He’s actually pretty good here, and Piper in fairness has some charisma on screen. Best shown in They Live of course, but Roddy has been a little unfortunate to have stayed persistently within the B, C movie categories. He’s not too bad an actor on his day. Certainly he’s the best actor on display in this by some distance.
In actuality, this film was released five years ago in the States, with a different title (Honor), but has only just made it’s merry way UK side. It comes as little surprise it’s not come over here at breakneck speed though, the film is utterly forgettable, and surprisingly lacklustre given the experience of its director. We’re not talking Spielberg here, but David Worth should be able to deliver something more entertaining than this, whilst if he did have a say in casting, should have got a more suitable leading man. The action scenes aren’t entirely terrible, and this might appease the more undemanding genre fans, but on the whole, it’ll probably disappoint. It is out of date as it is, and just looks very shop worn indeed. Not really one to recommend sadly. Take your fists of rage to the oldies section and hire out Bloodsport or Kickboxer instead.