Ho-Sung Pak, who originated the character of Liu Kang in the Mortal Kombat video games, stars in and produced this action revenge drama that revolves around three central characters.
When assassin Lee Choe decides to give up his job to be with the woman he loves, Sarah, his handler John is none too happy with the news. On the day before they are to leave, a group of goons arrive and end up killing Sarah. This causes Lee to become fully enraged and ultimately kills the goons. Knowing who is responsible, Lee decides to become a one-man army and track down any assassin hired by John and exact brutal retribution.
As if John doesn’t have enough issues, John’s boss Miles has learned of the situation and threatens to destroy him is nothing is done about it. John has a little ace up his sleeve in Detective Craig Barnes, a respected cop who is actually corrupt due to his allegiance with John. However, as Craig is hired to gather any information on Lee, he learns that Lee may not exactly be the bad guy he is supposed to be. Craig’s morality, John’s greed, and Lee’s quest for vengeance all will intersect into a very dangerous predicament.
Those expecting a total fight fest from the name along will be disappointed. Despite its title, the film is actually a pretty well-made drama that revolves around vengeance, greed, and questioning morality. Wayne Kennedy has crafted a story which revolves around the greed of a handler whose best assassin wants out and the handler resorts to killing the woman the assassin loves all for his own gain. However, his plan backfires and thus, the handler in a last ditch attempt gets a corrupt cop involved. The story is virtually a series of subplots all intertwined quite smoothly for the most part.
Martial arts expert Ho-Sung Pak is great to watch as the mysterious Lee, a former military officer turned assassin who longs for a new life. It is his girlfriend’s death that triggers him to become a fighting killer against the organization who hired him. He knows from the getgo who is responsible and one would think he would go after the guy right away. But that’s not the case. He feels he must take out anyone who works for his former handler, played with such evil by The Mask villain Peter Greene, whose character of John is like that of his character in the 1994 film.
Roger Guenveur Smith is quite interesting as Detective Barnes, a highly respected yet down and dirty cop who not only has to deal with issues on the job, but issues at home as well. Obviously, his double duty has taken affect at home, where we see his wife, played by former bombshell Sherilyn Fenn, resorts to drinking heavily in order to cope with her lack of family life. Michael Dorn and Antonio Fargas make cameos as a former friend of Lee’s and a priest who finds himself involved in giving information on Lee for Barnes. However, even Barnes begins to have his doubts and this is noticed when a confrontation between Barnes and Lee leads to another band of killers going after Lee after one thanks Barnes for his “assistance”.
As mentioned, this is not a fight filled film but when we see Ho-Sung Pak in action, it is quite well done for what it is. Pak himself choreographed the fight scenes and used his knowledge working as a stuntman, television series WMAC Masters and even Drunken Master II. Despite a few of the usual editing issues, the fights are all not bad.
Fist of the Warrior is not a bad American martial arts film, but it’s not a complete martial arts film either. It is more a look at vengeance, greed, and morality in the eyes of its lead three characters, with Ho-Sung Pak leading the charge as the avenger Lee.
WFG RATING: B
A GenOne Films Inc. production. Director: Wayne A. Kennedy. Producers: Jeanette Brill, Wayne A. Kennedy, Aaron Manor, and Ho-Sung Pak. Writer: Wayne A. Kennedy; story by Kennedy and Ho-Sung Pak. Cinematography: Max Da Yung Wang. Editing: Karl T. Hirsch and Wayne A. Kennedy.
Cast: Ho-Sung Pak, Peter Greene, Roger Guenveur Smith, Robin Paul, Sherilyn Fenn, Rosa Blasi, Antonio Fargas, Ed Marinaro, Michael Dorn, Brian Thompson, John Dye, Richard Gant.