The final bout of Round 2 is another close match. In fact, I thought I had a decision, then I changed my mind. Both DRAGON FIRE (Red Fist Club) and EXTREME CHALLENGE (The Men From Hong Kong) are kinda crappy, and yet kinda good, and in totally different ways from each other. Please join with me to consider their merits.
Both movies are cheap looking and somewhat amateurish. Both seem dated in ways that make you assume they’re a little older than they actually are. Both have heroes who are kinda difficult to like.
Both have pretty generic plots, and in the case of DRAGON FIRE it’s actually the exact storyline we’ve already seen once in the tournament, and a basic premise we’ve seen several times. But it’s been done that many times because it’s a good one. So DRAGON FIRE actually has the better plot in my opinion.
DRAGON FIRE is the weirdest. It has alot of odd moments, some goofy, some clever. You can tell by how many screengrabs I included in my review that I was excited to show everybody that stuff. I consider it a bad movie, but one that has plenty to offer. I recommend watching it. I think you’ll laugh at it but also that you’ll enjoy it. If you were to ask me which one of these two you should watch I would probly say DRAGON FIRE.
That’s why I initially thought (SPOILER) DRAGON FIRE was the winner. But as I continued writing and thinking about the movies I realized why that was wrong. Most of the enjoyment I got out of DRAGON FIRE was from laughing at it. The guy is so dorky, his mentor is so dorky, it’s not convincing that this guy is the best, or that he deserves to be the best. It’s hard to take any of it seriously, even when it’s successful at what it’s trying to do. It’s cheesy enough that I keep thinking it was a VHS-only, but it wasn’t.
EXTREME CHALLENGE is laughable too, but the parts I liked were genuine. The unexpectedly nuanced characters, the sincere morals, the ridiculous white guy’s surprising achievement of winning me over. It’s well-meaning and the areas it succeeds in are really good areas to succeed in. Also, the martial arts are clearly way better. And Scott Adkins is in it.
So, congratulations to The Men From Hong Kong, who will be advancing to the finals to face The Women.
(oh yeah, and FATAL CONTACT turned out to be a bust tournament-wise, so I’m substituting THE KUMITE. It’s called THE KUMITE, it better have a damn Kumite in it.)
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.