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No Retreat, No Surrender

AKA: Karate Tiger


Director: Corey Yuen

Producer: Ng See Yuen

Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Kurt McKinney, Timothy Baker, Kent Lipham

One of the favorite nicknames for Jean-Claude Van Damme in the newsgroups is "Satan" for how he's managed to wreck any movie he's been involved in with a Hong Kong director (Hard Target, Knock Off, etc.). But this is one instance where Van Damme isn't at fault, mostly because he's not in the movie all that much, but more so just because this film is just plain boring. The previews and box art make the movie look like a Bloodsport-style fightfest, but in reality, it's more of a Karate Kid ripoff than anything else.

The plot has Bruce Lee wannabe Kurt McKinney moving to Seattle after his father is beaten down by a group of gangsters (Van Damme being the main henchman) after he refuses to sell his dojo to them. Why exactly these gangsters want the dojo is never made clear, but not much is clear with this convoluted and cliched script. Corey Yuen came up with the story, so I'm supposing something got lost in the translation. Anyway, McKinney tries to join a local dojo but gets his ass beat, and so starts training in an abandoned house, where his sifu is the ghost of Bruce Lee (yes, I'm serious). At the end, the gangsters come to Seattle (again, why they're doing this beats the hell out of me) where Van Damme beats up the local champs, and -- wouldn't you know it? -- it's up to McKinney to save the day.

Everything about this film just screams bad '80's B-movie, from feathered hair to muscle shirts to montages backed by cheesy hard rock ballads. My personal favorite is McKinney's friend, who dresses (and dances) like Michael Jackson and breaks into really bad rap songs. The fights at the end are actually pretty decent, featuring some of Van Damme's best martial arts work, but it's not worth sitting through over an hour of crap to get to them.


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