After a solid four-year run with Lexington's last independent television station, I watched in absolute horror as my beloved WBLU-TV was sold to a faceless corporation that would rather cater to the lowest common denominator than produce quality programming for their core demographic. How impossibly sinister. Independent television is dead! Long live the new flesh! Uh, I mean, best wishes and good luck with your future endeavors.
Tis a sad hour, dear readers, one that finds me cast like a bitter trout into the murky waters known to many as The Bottomless Sea of Unemployment. Jobless and depressed, I sit sadly in my spacious living room with my chirpy Maine Coon, sipping a glass of fine Diet Coke and silently pondering the knowledge I have gained over the past 50 months or so. And while many slices of wisdom have been gathered over that meaty length of time, one bold truth rises above the rest:
Don "The Dragon" Wilson is the man.
If not for our limited budget and a serious lack of alternative programming, I never would have discovered the impossibly entertaining efforts by Gary Daniels, Art Camacho, and the unstoppable Don "The Dragon" Wilson. More importantly, I probably never would have witnessed the 1993 martial arts epic Out for Blood, a film that I can no longer live without. Is it that wonderful, you ask? Of course it is, my inquisitive chum. Of course it is.
The Dragon stars as successful attorney John Decker, a man who is tormented by the loss of his wife and child at the hands of a vicious gang of drug smugglers. Though Decker's family just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, this didn't stop these dope-dealing degenerates from doing awful things to the poor sap's family. Thing is, Decker can't remember much of what happened that night, which is why he spends a large amount of time with his shady psychiatrist, Dr. McConnell. You see, the good doctor seems to think that John suffers from selective amnesia, while others believe that the unfortunate lawyer is just keeping the details to himself.
Regardless of who you believe, Decker's pretty messed up about the whole bloody affair. To alleviate some of the tension and pent up hostility, our hero jogs incessantly and trains his body in the ways of the martial arts, a skill that will come in handy when he's suddenly assaulted by some punk dealer while enjoying a late-night run. Instead of taking his licks and scurrying home to cry about it, Decker unleashes some kung fu madness on his scum-sucking adversaries.
To make a long story short, John kicks some tail, tosses some poor goober off the roof of a building, and is dubbed "Karate Man" by some dirty homeless broad who just happened to see the entire show from the safety of her cardboard box. The media has a field day, the police are up in arms, and our hero is feeling pretty damn good about himself.
So good, in fact, that he begins hunting down criminals on a nightly basis. Be it gangs armed with automatic weapons or gangs armed with molotov cocktails or gangs armed with really great hair, Decker will fearlessly face them all in his snazzy Nike track suit. As you may already have guessed, John's adventures as a martial arts vigilante ultimately lead him to those seedy rascals who killed his beloved family. Armed to the teeth and ready to take down anyone who threatens their lucrative drug operation, this multi-ethnic organization proves to be quite a challenge for our hero. Can Decker infiltrate a high-profile drug cartel and eliminate the blood-thirsty bastards who killed his family before they stop his well-intentioned crusade against evil?
Enjoying something as stupid as Out for Blood really depends on what you ask from it. If you say, "Hey there, Mr. B-movie! Give me something intelligent and meaningful and absent of those pesky plot holes or I'm gonna get really steamed!" there's a good chance you'll be completely disappointed with this particular outing. Trust me on this one. I know what I'm talking about.
In fact, you should probably avoid every flick that features Don "The Dragon" Wilson in either starring or supporting roles. The only thing this type of production is good for is a 90-minute jolt of adrenaline or, perhaps, a good solid belly laugh. Again, that really depends on what you're looking for. I, myself, fall somewhere in-between; while I think these movies are unintentionally hilarious, I'm still oddly drawn to their uber-amusing fight sequences. Depends on my mood, really.
Because my soggy wit knows no bounds, I've actually crafted a name for this kind of picture: Disposable Cinema. You watch it, you enjoy it, and then you forget all about it. For example, I know that at some point in the film Decker confronts a gaggle of goons in a train yard, yet I couldn't tell you why he was there or how he escaped. All I know is that shots were fired, one or two people fell from an elevated surface, and our hero managed to live to fight another day. You see? Utterly disposable. Though the lingering feeling of being entertained remains, I have tossed out the specifics like yesterday's tube socks in order to make room for grocery lists and Kids in the Hall quotes.
And that's okay. It really is. Out for Blood isn't high-art. It doesn't stick to your ribs. More importantly, it doesn't make for interesting dinner conversation. Saying something to the effect of "Shari Shattuck was absolutely wonderful in Robert W. Munchkin's Out for Blood!" might get you kicked out of your snobby little film club. Try it sometime and tell me if I'm right.
This kind of motion picture experience literally beats the enjoyment out of you. Didn't like this particular fight scene? Okay, how about this one. Or this one. Or that one. Sooner or later you're bound to stumble across one or two that tickle your fancy. Throw in a half-baked revenge plot and a few decent performances to help drive the story and there you have it: a high-calorie B-Grade martial arts picture which, as you know, is the very essence of guilty pleasure.
Out for Blood is one of the better movies Mr. Wilson starred in during the '90s. Not only do you get plenty of interesting fights and lots of nifty shoot-outs, you also get to witness The Dragon's patented angry face. And you haven't lived until you've seen the guy get angry. Director Richard W. Munchkin (Ring of Fire, Deadly Bet) does an admirable job of keeping everything on track and as interesting as its insipid script will allow. It's not going to make you a hardcore B-movie fanatic, obviously, but I'm sure it'll supply a hefty dose Vitamin GT (Good Times) for those who don't mind their action epics a little on the shallow side. And if you're looking to dip your toes into The Dragon's exhaustive body of work, this is a great place to start.
Karate Man will graciously guide you through the rest.