REVIEW: Furious (1984)

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1984, Liberty Pictures Ltd.

Directors:
Tim Everitt
Tom Sartori
Producers:
Tim Everitt
Tom Sartori
Writers:
Tim Everitt
Tom Sartori

Cast:
Simon Rhee (Simon Lee)
Arlene Montano (Kim Lee)
Phillip Rhee (Master Chan)
Jon Dane (Jon)
Joyce Tilley (Joyce)
John Potter (John)
Howard Jackson (Howard)
Mika Elkan (Mika the Sorcerer)
Peter Malota (Fighter)
Loren Avedon (Fighter)

This rare American martial arts film features early performances by the Rhee brothers and marks the first appearance of a future action star. However, the ridiculous plot makes it convincing: don’t take this film seriously.

Simon Lee is a martial arts teacher who has learned that his sister Kim has been murdered. Searching for answers, Simon meets with his estranged martial arts teacher, Master Chan, who gives him his first clue that leads to a restaurant. When he begins his quest, he is joined by three friends. When they head to the restaurant and find it is closed, they are attacked by Chan’s assistant master Howard and a group of goons. Simon survives the attack, but his three friends are killed in the fight.

When Simon finally makes his way in the restaurant, he is carefully looking for something in relation to his sister’s death. When he is shocked to find his friends’ heads on a platter and again, Simon is forced into battle. Simon soon finds out the truth about his sister and what he is discovers is unbelievable.

Running at only 73 minutes, the movie flies by quick, but it combines some exciting martial arts action with some things that borderlines on the absurd. The opening credit sequences, which cross cuts between cast and crew names with some magician working on tricks should give one the message that this is not going to be a typical martial arts film.

The star of the film is one of Kung Fu Cinema’s favorites, Simon Rhee. Rhee plays a man who is just trying to solve the mystery of his sister’s death. It is what he must contend with that starts off as a typical martial arts film. However, somewhere in the third act, the core crew of Thomas Sartori and Tim Everitt all of a sudden decided to add some madness to the mix. This includes some sorcerer who turns innocent victims into chickens and pigs and somehow, aliens are involved in the plot as well. This may definitely one either love it as a cult film (ahem) or just make one want to throw the remote against the television.

While she is credited top, Arlene Montano’s scene is just that of the opening scene, in which her death sets off the film’s plot. The late kickboxing champion Howard Jackson pulls off some nice moves in his fights. As Master Chan, Phillip Rhee either dyed his hair or is wearing a convincing wig. Nevertheless, he is hamming it up and looks like he is having fun with the role. The film is the first appearance of one Loren Avedon, who plays a fighter seen doing a form that cross cuts with a fight between Simon Rhee and Jackson alongside future Van Damme collaborator and fight director himself, Peter Malota.

In charge of the film’s action scenes are the Rhee brothers. While Simon is a top stunt coordinator and fight director these days, this is a chance to see to see how he fares in that department in a very early film. He and Phillip do quite a nice job in the fight choreography, showcasing some amazing tae kwon do skills. As a matter of fact, some of the moves Simon pulls off would later be used by Phillip in the Best of the Best film series. Many might see this as a just some showcase for Simon Rhee and while that is true, some of their opponents in the film are real-life students of theirs who pull off some nice exchanges. No maddening close ups and quick cuts. More long shot and at times an overhead shot of the action.

Furious is definitely a rare and cult treat with a finale that may make you shout in madness. However, Simon Rhee shows off his excellent fighting skills that would eventually make him a top-notch action director. Many will want to see this only for the fight scenes and forget the madness that takes over the third act of the film.

For more on the film, check out our 2015 interview with co-director Tim Everitt.

WFG RATING: B+

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