I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Best of the Best 3: No Turning Back

tn_bestofthebest3BEST OF THE BEST 2 was an unexpected classic. The only slight hesitation I had was that he SPOILER killed the bad guy MORE SPECIFICS OF SPOILER at the end. I mean it was an evil guy, but the typical “he forced me to kill him” conclusion seems like kind of a cop out after part 1’s unorthodox peace and brotherhood ending.

Well, it turns out Tommy Lee (Phillip Rhee) agrees. Killing Brakus “went against everything I believe,” so he quit teaching, left Eric Roberts behind and seems to be driving across the country visiting his sister to rediscover himself, just like Seagal did at the beginning of MARKED FOR DEATH. Actually it’s weird because Tommy gets sideswiped and his car gets fucked up, which is a classic way of stranding an action hero drifter in the middle of nowhere to have an adventure. But then it turns out he was headed there anyway because that’s where his sister lives. This might be because it was originally written as a standalone movie but director/star Rhee had it modified to somewhat fit his BEST OF THE BEST character.

mp_bestofthebest3Of course, when a best of the best comes into a small town it’s his responsibility to give any necessary karate help. And it’s obvious that will be required because this town’s got a serious Neo-Nazi problem. Not only is a white separatist church led by R. Lee Ermey trying to buy up a bunch of property, but a skinhead gang recently murdered a black priest. Tommy’s brother-in-law (played by Christopher “I eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast” McDonald) is the sheriff, but he can’t prove anything.

Like all drifter action heroes Tommy tries to say “I don’t want any trouble” and stay out of it, even when a bunch of racists flip him shit in a diner. But of course he does end up unleashing his best of the best skills, most notably during an incident at a charity carnival. When a skinhead slaps caring school teacher Gina Gershon (RED HEAT, OUT FOR JUSTICE) Tommy steps in and has to fight all the skinhead’s friends and smash alot of innocent carnival booths. It’s all very typical, right down to the ending where she’s not grateful to him for saving her ass and instead mad that he resorted to violence. But since he was volunteering for the dunk tank he does the entire scene in a clown suit, kicking with giant clown shoes and managing to keep the round, red nose intact. It’s a sign that Rhee has a bit of a quirky directorial style, because the music and everything in the fight is played completely straight until the last shot where he awkwardly waddles away in the giant shoes.

If Gershon’s not enough strong-woman-in-over-her-head for you there’s also Dee Wallace Stone as the skinhead’s long-suffering ma. These ladies speak their minds and try to prevent all the white yahoos in town from turning this into Hitlerland or Universal Islands of Intolerance. Gershon makes a righteous speech at a town meeting (dabbling in a southern accent straight out of a high school production of To Kill a Mockingbird) so she becomes a focus of their racist energy in between cross-burnings and intimidation car smashings.

Racists are usually great bad guys just because it’s enjoyable to see them get beat up. But the BEST OF THE BEST series maintains a bit of a BILLY JACK or ON DEADLY GROUND type of philosophy, so Tommy passionately says that “hatred is not the answer!” and tries to teach little minority children not to hate back. And to show that there’s some grey area here we learn that Ermey – while he openly admits to being a racist and a separatist – is outraged when he finds out that his #2 bought a bunch of weapons to start a race war. He says the Bible is against it. Later on some of the other followers get cold feet. So the idea is that some of these people can be redeemed. Kind of ruins the fun of white supremacists as all-purpose bad guys. But oh well, I still enjoy seeing them get kicked through windows.

I guess the problem though is that these are stock white supremacist characters (the hate-spewing military leader, the angry and confused teenager) and not really fun or unique villains. Just completely forgettable. Despite their Aryan skin they’re completely lost in the shadow of part 2’s Brakus.

Speaking of race, it is nice to see an Asian-American as the only lead and fulfilling the classic American role of the undershirt-wearing drifter. As story writer and choreographer it seemed like Rhee was the heart behind part 1, but typical Hollywood bullshit made him into somewhat of a side character to Eric Roberts. Here there’s no doubt he’s the main attraction.

There’s NO TURNING BACK because after this BEST OF THE BEST is not gonna return to the big screen or bring Eric Roberts back into the fold, but it was still kind of a cool direction to take the series in. I always think it would be cool to see the heroes (or even supporting characters) return in completely different types of adventures. Like if there was a REDBELT 2 where he has to stop a plane hijacking or breakinto an underground bunker to steal treasure or they’re gonna kill his brother. BEST OF THE BEST 3 is definitely the worst of the BEST OF THE BESTs, but I still somewhat enjoyed seeing the Tommy Lee character’s continued adventures. This guy can go all over the world and get involved with all different types of adventures (legitimate sports, underground fighting, beating up racists)

I’m also happy that Phillip Rhee was able to graduate to director, even if it’s just for a DTV sequel that’s released as a double feature with part 4. Original BEST OF THE BEST director Robert Radler must’ve liked it too, because several years later he did THE SUBSTITUTE: FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION where The Substitute takes on white supremacists.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Thursday, July 29th, 2010 at 2:08 pm and is filed under Action, Martial Arts, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

14 Responses to “Best of the Best 3: No Turning Back”

  1. I’m thinking meh. I think I will give it a try though.

    Don’t get me wrong, I do play for Team Saltine but I also like to see white trash racist get their asses kicked. They give the rest of us crackers a bad name.

  2. So this is basically like a Rich Man’s NINJA VENGEANCE, but still not that memorable by most movie standards?

  3. basic ass kicking. he didn’t pull any specialy stuff and pick up the girl and used her to kick the crap out of ten guys surrounding them. i guess you have appreciate the simple things as well as the complicated. Props for her though, she did bean one of them with a chair.

  4. ok, death by door. I’ giving this movie a thumbs up.

  5. Damn, Vern, I was looking forward to seeing you rip this one to shreds, and you almost – almost – give it a pass. Why must you be so fair and even-handed and other things less entertaining than ripping up this dog’s-fart of a movie like Massawyrm ripped into “Bratz”? Journalistic integrity is over-rated, you know.

    For the rest of you, I’d say this – “BotB” is ok and mildly entertaining, “BotB2” is less good but has a nice villain and a drunk stepfather mentor to redeem things a bit, and I couldn’t sit through “BotB3”. I wouldn’t say it was offensively bad, to the extent that something like “My Bloody Valentine” remake was, but it’s pretty unwatchable. Every single “stranger runs into trouble in small town America” cliche is on display, with zero imagination or originality. The acting is across-the-board bad, the stars of the previous two movies look embarrassed to be there, and it’s painfully obvious that nobody in this movie is enjoying themselves. The lead villain can’t fight – in a “Best of the Best” movie?! – and spends most of his screen-time making ridiculous speeches to a rally of white supremacist goons. There is nothing entertaining about any of this. It’s just bad, without even having the saving grace of being camp enough to laugh at. Definitely a case of “so bad it’s terrible”.

    So basically, if you were entertained by either of the first “Best of the Best” movies – and I was – then don’t get suckered in by this one just because it has the same name and stars. Avoid it like the plague.

  6. i thought it was ok.

  7. Only thing I remember is that Aryan kid telling his ma that he wished she had aborted him. Or something to that effect.

  8. I actually liked 2 and 4 the most. Anyway this was the only one I hated in the series, I think the biggest problem was the opening in which the white supremacists beat a black guy to death with a bat and set his church on fire. I thought this was exploitative and was needless to the story. This comes from a guy who enjoys Substitute 4, Avenging Force,Bloodfist III and Dead Bang. However neither of those films stepped outside of the overall tone. I also didn’t like how the tone was meant to be grey area like, it didn’t add anything really to the process. What I disliked most though was the overall constant racial slurs which I guess is par for the coarse but the tone just grinds with the film. The movie is nothing more than a cheap kung fu film with tons of action, why it has to preach a message as well as go out of it’s way to include some brutal sequences was overall just a jumble of boring cliches and unpleasant sequences. Mainly the attempted rape of Gina Gershon, The beating of the black preacher, the way the white supremacists call attack the kids calling them “gooks” . I don’t I just thought it didn’t work well and left an unpleasant taste in my mouth. Also getting away from politics the film didn’t have enough action and really I think it needed Eric Roberts again as Rhee really isn’t that good of an actor. R.Lee Ermy was wasted, as was Stone, Gershon and McDonald. The problem was that the film wasn’t cartoonish enough to make the film feel goofy or for that matter serious enough to work as a message movie. I didn’t like this movie much at all. By the way, you get my links for Kickboxer 3 and 4 Vern? Free on You Tube my man. (Kickboxer 4 was a lot of fun)

    I actually liked Best 2 the best like you. It will be interesting to see your take on 4 which I think is the second best. Ernie Hudson and the guy from Saw are in it. And there is a great torture sequence with a pitching machine. Like I said I don’t object to 3’s message or even the violence, more so with how it badly jars together and how dull it all is.

    Just my opinion, i’m sure others will disagree.

  9. Kenner – nah, I agree. I probably preferred 1 to 2, but there wasn’t that much to choose between them, so yeah. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with most points about 3.

  10. I’m with mac, I love to see racists get their asses kicked, they give whitey a bad name!

  11. Griff – so you think racist can only be white? Only the white man is capable of being a racist? Blacks and Asians aren’t up to it, eh? Don’t quite have the mental capacity? Or maybe they’re just too physically feeble to curb-stomp the head of someone they dislike for the levels of melonin in their skin?

    YOU ARE A HORRIBLE PERSON.

  12. I heartily lol’d

  13. I agree with Kenner, that while parts of the movie are great light fun and dare I say charming, there’s some unpleasant stuff in here too that doesn’t quite jive. But either way, I actually really liked this one – decent fight scenes, likeable good guys, asshole bad guys, strong love interest, and the rare chance for Christopher McDonald to be a hero and not an asshole. I would actually put it slightly above spiritual brother Fire Down Below, which may be faint praise to some, but it’s miles above all of Seagal’s DTV’s.

    Oh and I like how the main villain bears a striking resemblance to Louis C.K., and has no discernible martial arts expertise, but gets more hits on Tommy than Brakus did.

  14. Oh and I literally laughed at loud when Kane Hodder showed up to play yet ANOTHER guy in BotB 3 (guy who gets shot on top of the schoolbus). After watching him get beat up in the bar in 1 and beat up in the nightclub in 2, I’m surprised he graduated to getting killed.

Leave a Reply





XHTML: You can use: <a href="" title=""> <img src=""> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <b> <i> <strike> <em> <strong>