Las Vegas Warrior (2002)

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Another entry in the now sub-genre of “illegal fight movie” comes courtesy of director Nastasha Baron. The film, originally titled Mu Sa Do, is two stories interconnecting all revolving around an illegal underground ring operation in Sin City, Las Vegas.

Chase Somete is an investigative reporter for local news show Behind the Story. Her next assignment is professional martial arts fighting in Las Vegas. Showing a display of unenthusiasm, she takes her team of Jimmy and Andre to Vegas to see a bout between Iranian-born taekwondo champion Alexi Zarjampour and Korean-born fighter Suk Nam. When Suk kills Alexi, Chase and her team have found their story.

With the help of seafood deli owner and informant Gill, Chase learns of an underground fight ring operating in Vegas with its star fighter being none other than Suk. However, Suk has a reason for his fighting. His father was killed by the organizers of the fight ring and had been raised since childhood as part of the “family”, owing a large debt to his uncle. Suk becomes torn as he wants to get out of the fight game once and for all. As Chase gets closer to her story, Suk must make a choice, one that will affect his life forever.

While the film can be pretty much summed as typical B-movie fare, it does hold up some character development in terms of one of its lead characters. While one of the two major plots that connect the film involve a no-nonsense investigative reporter trying to get her story on the Vegas illegal fight ring and its connection to a dead fighter in a professional bout, one can’t help but show a little empathy for the titular “warrior” of the film. As doomed fighter Suk Nam, Suk Woo Nam does his best to play a man who wants nothing more than to fight in order to pay his debt and live a free life once and for all. Going through flashbacks of witnessing his father’s murder as a child, Suk is determined to do anything not to end up like his father.

While the film begins to have its potential, one character in the film somewhat ruins the excitement of the overall production. Chase’s assistant Jimmy Olson (yes, named after the famous Superman character), played by Earl Wadden, is one of the most annoying characters ever seen on film. He only cares about living the high life just because he is part of a major news broadcast. While Chase and Andre don’t care about staying at a rat-infested place just to get their story on Suk, Jimmy whines about wanting to stay at a five-star. His constant whining can make someone want to go up to the screen, reach in there and smack him so many times.

Suk Woo Nam, an expert in Hapkido, not only co-stars in the film, but served as producer and fight choreographer. For a film about underground fighting, Nam did a decent job, using a more realistic combination of some taekwondo and jujitsu, perhaps one of the early predecessors to today’s mixed martial arts fighting films. In some fights, some of them are marred by the usual close ups and quick cuts, while one fight scenes mainly is shot from overhead angle, showing more technique and impact, making it for a pretty decent fight scene. For this being Nam’s only film, it is quite a shame he hasn’t made any more films to date as he could have improved some more on fight choreography should he continue to make films.

From a decent beginning to a downward spiral full of annoyance and a somewhat disappointment of an ending, Las Vegas Warrior definitely holds rank as typical B-movie, but if Suk Woo Nam makes another film, perhaps he will have something a little better to work with, but overall, definitely worth at least a rental.

WFG RATING: C+

Allied Entertainment Group presents a No More Productions Inc. production. Director: Nastasha Baron. Producers: Nastasha Baron and Suk Woo Nam. Writer: Tom Hanley. Cinematography: Craig Powell. Editing: Andrew Nagy.

Cast: Laurie Hanley, Suk Woo Nam, Earl Wadden, Jason Simpson, Alexi Zarjampour, Nic Amoroso, Ryf Van Rij.

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