College Kickboxers (1991)

Posted in Reviews by - November 12, 2020
College Kickboxers (1991)

College student and martial arts devotee James (McLeod) decides to help out a local dojo, run by his friend Carl (Cohen), when developers want it closed to make way for a shopping mall. They enrol in a local martial arts tournament in a bid to win the prize money which could save the school, but also have to face a sifu (Dang Tak-wing) who is reluctant to teach them his kung fu secrets, as well as the threats of a racist gang calling themselves the ‘White Tigers’. For what is mostly light, PG-13 fare, the racism theme seems really out of place, and the writing and acting is not strong enough to deal with the subject. It’s the work of Hong Kong actor and martial artist, Dang Tak-wing – known for 1982’s The Brave Archer & His Mate and his later fight work on Jackie Chan hits including Police Story 3: Supercop (1992) and Drunken Master II (1994) – who helps to make this independent American actioner something special. When you see him perform in this – his only American film – it makes you wonder why he was not given more substantial roles. He would have made a great on-screen brother for Sammo Hung. His pressure-point-inspired fight choreography is the film’s biggest strength, clearly influenced by the Hong Kong style, making the action feel unique for an American production of the period, and Dang steals all of his scenes; an impressive barefoot kata in an ice rink being a particular highlight. The cast might not be working with the greatest script, but despite some cringe-worthy moments, the film does put across an optimistic message as well as a positive image of the fighting arts.

AKA: Trained to Fight.

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