Roger Corman’s version of Walking Tall showcases the talents of one of the best kickers in the sport of kickboxing, Jerry Trimble, in the lead role.
Taekwondo instructor Jerry Pelt loves his job, but loves his family even more. When he learns that his grandfather, Johnson City’s Judge Pelt, has died. Grieving the death of his grandfather, Pelt heads to Johnson City, the small town he grew up in. Upon his arrival, he runs into his childhood friend Natalie Pierce, who has become a lawyer. Jerry learns that his once beloved home has now been run by corruption due to businessman Sidney Sharperson and the town’s sheriff Pat Boze.
In an effort to make his hometown what it once was, Jerry decides to run for sheriff when Boze is up for re-election. Jerry’s decision to do this angers Sharperson, who clearly sees Jerry as a threat. Jerry finds himself in constant danger, but is able to handle himself well due to his martial arts skills. Will Jerry become the new sheriff and will he find out who is responsible for his grandfather’s death?
Roger Corman is truly the “King of the B-Movie Circuit”. During the late 80’s and 90’s, Corman and collaborator Cirio H. Santiago began to capitalize on the martial arts action film with shooting in the Philippines to cut costs. However, Corman has become smart in casting real-life martial arts champions in lead roles and one such fellow is Jerry Trimble, who wowed fans with his roles as the villain in Jet Li’s The Master and Breathing Fire and even his brief role as a drug dealer in King of the Kickboxers. Trimble made his Concorde debut a year prior to this film in the Bloodfist clone Full Contact.
Trimble truly is one to have charisma on screen and has the martial arts skills to boot. When Corman produced this Walking Tall clone, writer Daryl Haney took the core elements and put in a few twists with the help of uncredited contributor and co-star Dennis Hayden to make a welcome B-movie clone of the classic true life story of one man’s return to his hometown and cleans it up when he becomes sheriff. While we saw a female version of this story with Cynthia Rothrock’s China O’Brien films, Trimble truly makes this worth seeing in this film. To show how much he isn’t going to take, he even finds himself in one scene competing in Sharperson’s illegal fight ring at a local bar.
Melissa Moore even proves to be a stronger woman rather than a damsel in distress in the form of Jerry’s childhood sweetheart Natalie, who rekindles her romance and helps Jerry in his investigation. Dennis Hayden is really good as Eddie, Jerry’s childhood best friend who also helps in the investigation but has a bit of an addiction that could jeopardize things while Rick Dean is truly dirty as the corrupt sheriff Pat Boze.
Ronald Asinas is perhaps one of the Philippines’ best known fight coordinators, having worked on virtually all of Concorde’s Filipino-shot films in the 90’s. Asinas definitely makes Trimble look good and allows him to showcase his kickboxing skills quite well when necessary. Trimble’s fight scenes are truly a plus with this film, from his fights in the illegal fight ring to his climactic fight against the killer of his grandfather.
One Man Army may be seen as a Walking Tall clone but it makes good use of Jerry Trimble’s skills in the lead role. Definitely a film for B-movie enthusiasts and those who love the Walking Tall-type of films.
WFG RATING: B
A New Concorde Pictures production. Director: Cirio H. Santiago. Producers: Roger Corman and Cirio H. Santiago. Writer: Daryl Haney. Cinematography: Ricardo Remias. Editing: Edgar Viner.
Cast: Jerry Trimble, Melissa Moore, Dennis Hayden, Rick Dean, Yvonne Michelle, Paul Holmes, James Paolelli, Joe Zucchero.