REVIEW: Hawkeye (1988)

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1988, Pacific Summit Films

Director:
Leo Fong
Producer:
George Chung
Writer:
George Chung
Cinematography:
Frank Harris
Editing:
George Chung

Cast:
George Chung (Alexander “Hawkeye” Hawkamoto)
Chuck Jeffreys (Charles Wilson)
Troy Donahue (The Mayor)
Stan Wertlieb (Tony Cicerio)
Hidy Ochiai (Sakura)
Elizabeth Frieje (Sharon Johnson)
Kathaleen Bradley Overton (Cat Lady)
Ronnie Lott (Hold Up Man)
Jerry Wilson (Captain)
Juan Chapa (District Attorney)

Martial arts aces George Chung and Chuck Jeffreys star as a pair of mismatched cops who get along very quickly to bust down a drug ring in this precursor to the Rush Hour films.

Alexander “Hawkeye” Hawkamoto is a cop from Texas who has transferred to work the beats in Las Vegas. His unorthodox style of justice has been getting the captain very upset as well as the mayor, who has grown tired of Hawkeye’s antics. To ensure that Hawkeye can have some control, the captain pairs him with seasoned veteran Charles Wilson, who is not too thrilled with Hawkeye as well, even after stopping a bank heist with his unorthodox style.

It doesn’t take long for the ice to melt between these two as they soon get along when it comes to their latest case. A body found in an ally becomes personal for Hawkeye as the victim is Sammy Johnson, an old childhood friend of Hawkeye’s. Hawkeye learns that Sammy may have been working for drug lord Tony Cicerio and seeks answers. However, Tony and a former partner turned rival drug lord named Sakura think Sammy somehow double-crossed both of them. As Hawkeye and Charles seem to get closer to solving the case, more questions arise as to how everything went down. Will these two finally be able to solve the case and at what cost?

Made around the same time as Fight to Win, this is a definitive 80’s B-movie that brings the cop buddy action film and adds some martial arts flavor to it. However, unlike the more popular Rush Hour films, both cops here have skills. The pairing of George Chung and Chuck Jeffreys is quite a pair to watch. At first, these two don’t get along as Chung’s Hawkeye is the crazier of the pair with Jeffreys’ Wilson as the straight laced cop. However, a funny interrogation scene melts the ice between the two very quickly where an attempt to play “good cop, bad cop” may seem to have taken too seriously.

Stan Wertlieb plays the typical villain in drug lord Tony while martial arts legend Hidy Ochiai decides to take a step back in terms of showcasing his karate skills and sticks to straight acting in the role of rival drug lord Sakura. Elizabeth Frieje plays a vital part of the film as the wife of the victim, who may seem to know more than she knows. Hollywood legend Troy Donahue has a brief appearance as a ranting Mayor who has grown sick of Hawkeye’s antics and threatens to take his badge himself. Look for former football legend Ronnie Lott (who at the time was a student of Chung’s) in a cameo as a bank robber.

While the acting is what one would expect in a B-movie, it is the action that stands out. The martial arts action is very nice. Highlights include Hawkeye testing out for his black belt and a nice fight that pits Chung and Jeffreys against a group of Sakura’s most prized black belt students. It is clear that Chung and Jeffreys truly have some excellent martial arts skills and they put them to good use in the film.

Hawkeye may be a B-movie, but it is a fun action ride driven by George Chung and Chuck Jeffreys, who dish out justice martial arts-style!

WFG RATING: B-

VHS (under the title Karate Cops)

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