NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER is easily one of the best “bad” martial arts movies I know of. In the U.S. it’s only on VHS, and the import DVD cover shows a shirtless Jean-Claude Van Damme, like it’s KICKBOXER or BLOODSPORT. Actually, Van Damme only appears in the beginning and at the end as “Ivan the Russian,” the Ivan Drago of kickboxing, the villain who the hero has to beat. He doesn’t talk, but does a good robotic bad guy performance. He even wears a white suit, and if you wear a white suit you’re either a rapper, a Love Boat captain or a villain. In this case he’s mostly the latter.
The actual star of the movie is Kurt McKinney as Jason Stillwell, a dorky white guy but an actual martial artist at least. Something about his squareness kind of reminds me of Brandon Lee for some reason. His dad runs an L.A. karate school, but shuts it down and flees to Seattle after organized crime figures (with Van Damme as henchman) threaten him. (read the rest of this shit…)
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.