Desert Kickboxer (1992)

Posted in Reviews by - April 15, 2021
Desert Kickboxer (1992)

There are brief flashes of the exciting, high-kicking pugilism which would later become a mainstay of Isaac Florentine‘s work in this low-budget quickie, made for Menahem Golan’s 21st Century Films. As a karate expert – Florentine also acts as the film’s fight choreographer – he chooses good actors who can pull off the moves without the need of too much doubling, allowing a greater freedom as a director which has always helped to elevate his martial arts films. Michael Foley is particularly good as a menacing heavy who takes the time to explain his martial arts technique just before he kills a guy. The titular ‘desert kickboxer’ is John Newton, playing a hunky cop with big muscles and a good spinning back kick. He’s part Native American (citation needed) who has escaped the city life to live in a trailer in the desert after he accidentally kills his kickboxing opponent in the ring. Seeking redemption, he winds up aiding a brother-and-sister pairing after they escape from the clutches of a Mexican drug lord. Newton’s character is called Joe Highhawk – or just ‘Hawk’ to his buddies – so the film ends up being full of dated Native American references including hawk cries, twangy guitars and panpipes. Although it’s short, its plodding nature makes it feel a lot longer, and it lacks the fun and excitement that Florentine would later adopt after directing hundreds of episodes of Power Rangers.

AKA: Desert Hawk.

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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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