Fight to Win (1987)

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A cast of talented martial artists star in this 80’s B-movie action tale that has what one would expect: subpar acting and above par action.

Ryan Kim is a champion martial artist. The problem is that he knows he’s a top champion and has quite an ego. He meets with a young woman who has interest in a story about three statues that are believed to have some mythological power when put together. The former holder of the statues, Rosenberg, trusts three experts to hold the statues. The first is Armstrong, an unscrupulous fight manager. The second is Master Kim, who decided to bequeath his statue to his son Ryan. The third statue belongs to Master Kim’s best friend, Ryan’s sensei.

After Ryan wins another tournament, Armstrong arrives and sends in a challenge to fight his champion in one month time. However, when the stress causes Sensei to have a heart attack, he is out of commission for the month. Ryan undergoes training with friends Michael, Jerry, and Paul. However, the pain of Sensei causes Ryan to lose the statues when Tankson, Armstong’s champ, defeats Ryan easily. When a rematch is set for two months, Sensei sends in his most prized student before Ryan, a young woman named Lauren, to train Ryan for the rematch. Will Ryan have the heart and get past his ego to finally win the statues?

In the 1980’s, American martial arts films were popping up everywhere and while there have been A-listers including Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme, the B-movie circuit featured more names who are known for martial arts who transitioned into films. One such martial artist was George Chung, a national Tae Kwon Do champion who was part of Ernie Reyes’ West Coast Demo Team. This film was Chung’s first major film in the form of the very egotistical Ryan, a champion who has a big mouth but when it comes to business, can’t back it up all the time. Chung may not be the best actor in the world, but does have the skills to back it up in the action department.

While Chung is one of the central character, the top billers are Cynthia Rothrock and Richard Norton. Rothrock comes in about halfway through the film as Lauren, who helps Ryan train and even attempts to control his ego. As for Richard Norton, he plays the film’s central villain Armstrong who doesn’t get much action in until the third act. Legend Bill Wallace is great as Armstrong’s champion, who shows exactly why he’s called “Superfoot”. Those who can’t get enough of Chuck Jeffreys and his mannerisms in the tone of Eddie Murphy will love him in this film. Even Hidy Ochiai gets both action and comedy mixed in as Ryan and Lauren’s Sensei.

While the acting is sometimes pretty ridiculous and what is expected for a B-movie, the action is the highlight of the film. We get to see the kicking skills of Wallace and Chun in their throwdowns. Rothrock gets to showcase some of her skills against Chung and Jeffreys, when he’s not making one laugh, has some great fluid skills himself. In one scene, look for former football Ronnie Lott just show up to shoot some thugs down as his character was coming back from “football practice”.

Fight to Win is a pretty good B-movie that highlights the martial arts skills of its core cast, and yes, the acting may not be major, but it’s sometimes quite laughable and fun for a film of this caliber.

WFG RATING: B

A Pacific Summit Films Ltd. production. Director: Leo Fong. Producers: George Chung and Sunny Lim. Writers: George Chung and James Belmesseri. Cinematography: Gene Evans. Editing: Victor Alexander.

Cast: Cynthia Rothrock, George Chung, Richard Norton, Troy Donahue, Bill Wallace, Hidy Ochiai, Hee Il Cho, Chuck Jeffreys, Juan Chapa, Shan Brassfield, Ronnie Lott.

 

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