True Vengeance (1997)

Posted in Reviews by - January 08, 2022
True Vengeance (1997)

Another decent, straight-to-video head-kicker starring Daniel Bernhardt, who gets to try out a more badass persona as a hotshot assassin in sunglasses and an overcoat, rolling around in slow-motion with a gun in each hand like he’s in a John Woo movie. It’s also another early outing for a few Hollywood martial artists who would go on to redefine stunts and action movies in the west; people like fight choreographers Chad Stahelski and Brad Martin, and stunt performers Jonathan Eusebio, Marcus Young and Tim Rigby. Bernhardt plays Griffin, a decorated ex-Navy SEAL who is introduced as a doting single dad to a young daughter, until the Yakuza kidnap her and strap her to an oxygen tank laced with explosives. Griffin puts on a bullet-belt, loads up on guns, and goes on the rampage. “You think you can kill me? No one can kill me!” he yells as he takes out Santa Monica’s thriving Yakuza community. The baddies are formed of a few familiar faces, the sort of typecast Asian American actors you see cropping up in many action movies from the 1990s; people like George Cheung and Roger Yuan. The Yakuza appear to be in league with ‘Big Tech’, eager to invest in artificial intelligence about 20 years before that would actually become a thing, displaying some amazing financial insight for a criminal organisation. Soon, Griffin not only has Japanese gangsters and the cops on his tail, but also an astute Naval Intelligence Officer, played by Beverly Johnson – the first African American model to appear on the cover of American Vogue. Kickboxer director David Worth is in his element, happy to let his talented stunt crew take control over the film’s many action scenes, each feverishly showing Bernhardt in all his high-kicking glory. Tarzan star Miles O’Keeffe plays a hired goon who gets to cross swords with Bernhardt at the end, but there is also a good fight earlier on between Bernhardt and Leo Lee, with both displaying great technique. This is a good example of a cheap Hollywood B movie which is way better than it has any right to be.

AKA: Power Force; Truth or Consequences.

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Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

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