Fists of Iron (1995)

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In the 90’s, a young martial artist and aspiring filmmaker by the name of Michael Worth burst onto the screen. This is perhaps one of his best films during the heyday of 90’s straight-to-video action films.

Dale Hartwell is a mechanic who just happens to have impeccable fighting skills and hangs out at a local bar alongside his best friend Matt Sheldon. When Matt invites Dale to a ritzy mansion owned by Peter Gallagher, both of the friends’ lives change forever.

Gallagher holds an illegal martial arts tournament known as the “All-Stars Tournament” with Gallagher’s champion Victor Bragg as the one to defeat. When Matt takes on the hulking Bragg, he is mercilessly beaten while Dale helps him escape. Sadly, Matt dies of his injuries and Dale now seeks revenge.

To do this, he gets help from two bar locals, Daniel Lee and Tyler Green. They offer to help Dale train as they have a history with the evil Gallagher. Meanwhile, Dale has fallen for Julie, who is the girlfriend of Gallagher. When Dale enters the next tournament after he completes his training, he is ready to take on all comers in order to get his revenge on Bragg.

There is just something about Michael Worth that makes fans want to see more of him kicking some serious tale. After literally making a Final Impact in 1991, he was the young star for PM Entertainment whose skills are exciting to watch thanks to the choreography of Art Camacho. For this film, writer Sean Dash took the run-of-the-mill tournament genre and spiced it up with a love triangle. The chemistry between the young Worth and veteran Jenilee Harrison works well here when it comes to their love story. While the film itself is made by Century Film Partners, the film has the look and feel of a PM movie.

The supporting cast drive the film as well. Veteran villain actor Marshall Teague does well as the rich guy who holds the tournament and seems to want to fix it so his champion can always gain the upper hand. It doesn’t help his girlfriend has eyes for the up-and-comer either. Worth’s mentors are wonderfully played by former Flash Gordon Sam J. Jones and the “King of Kata” himself, Eric Lee. Matthias Hues continues to show he is no one-trick pony as he brings on one of his best performances to date as the champ Victor Bragg. His fighting skills are extremely impressive for a guy who just a decade prior to this had no martial arts knowledge, yet he would find himself the right guys to work with and the hard work paid off.

Art Camacho definitely knows his stuff and knows what works in terms of using Michael Worth’s skills. Worth is extremely amazing in his fight scenes and one’s gotta love his 360-degree kick that they show in a nice slow motion shot against veteran stuntman Lelagi “Butch” Togisala. Even before he dies in the film, Okinawa-te expert and future UFC fighter Nick Hill shows he has some nice moves as well. The tournament scenes are nicely done with barely any of the camera and editing issues that tend to plague the martial arts genre.

Fists of Iron is a worthy (no pun intended) martial arts B-movie that utilizes the talents of Michael Worth and Matthias Hues. A great veteran supporting cast helps drive the film as an above-average run-of-the-mill tournament film.

WFG RATING: B

A Century Film Partners production. Director: Richard W. Munchkin. Producers: Richard W. Munchkin and Aron Schifman. Writer: Sean Dash; story by Dash and Aron Schifman. Cinematography: Garett Griffin. Editing: John Weidner.

Cast: Michael Worth, Jenilee Harrison, Marshall R. Teague, Sam J. Jones, Matthias Hues, Eric Lee, Nick Hill, Connie Llanos, María Díaz, Michael DeLano, Nicholas Oleson, Stefanos Miltsakakis, Lelagi “Butch” Togisala, Art Camacho.

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