Blazin’ (2001)

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A mix of a Romeo and Juliet themed romance, urban drama, and Hong Kong-style martial arts action loads up this action packed urban action film, the debut film from New York-based filmmaker and martial artist Marcos Antonio Miranda, that features a cast of veteran Western actors who were best known to appear in Hong Kong films as well as a few relative newcomers.

On the streets of New York, Langstrom is the most feared drug dealer in the city. With her iron fist, she rules practically all of the drug trade in the city. Her daughter Samantha (Sascha Knopf) does not approve of her mother’s actions and as a result, is always put down by her. The only person Samantha can turn to for comfort is Alex, the son of veteran NYPD Detective Hunter. However, both Langstrom and Hunter disapprove of Alex and Samantha’s relationship due to their opposite sides of the law. Desperate to stay together, Alex and Samantha must find a way to stay together despite the chaos that surrounds them.

When Hunter learns Alex is constantly in danger because of his love for Samantha, Hunter relies on his good friend, the mysterious Victor Ramos. With the help of Victor’s street informant Joe and his friends Micki and Pete, Victor is willing to do what it takes to make sure the couple is safe from harm, even when Langstrom sends in an infiltrator in Joe’s gang, Big Rob as well as her bodyguards in an all-out war.

Made during the era where Hollywood was churning out action films that featured the high flying wirework of Hong Kong action, such as The Matrix and Charlie’s Angels, first-time film director Marcos Antonio Miranda has come up with an interesting mix of genres, from urban drama to Hong Kong action film to a Romeo and Juliet style romance drama that meshes all into one very intriguing film.

Michael Wehrhahn and Sascha Knopf play the doomed lovers who must do what it takes to stay alive and stay together. Their on-screen chemistry is like that of perhaps a high school romance, but it does work in this film given its budget. The film’s big publicity comes in the form of its urban style theme, thanks to the appearances of rappers Fat Joe and Cuban Link, and New York-based DJ Angie Martinez as the three informants who play major roles in the protection of the endagered couple.

Paula Roth and Joseph Bono play the parents of the couple who are on opposites sides of the law. Roth has a tendency to overact as drug boss Langstrom. She plays it off a little too much. Perhaps she was having fun with the role. Who knows? Not many people may know the name Joseph Bono, but they have seen his face. Perhaps his best known role was one of Joe Pesci’s gangster buddies in Martin Scorsese’s classic Raging Bull. Here, he is overprotective (and for good reason) of Alex and even goes as far as sending in his friend Victor, who is well played by director Miranda.

The action of the film is a nice mix of gunplay and martial arts. While the gunplay is the kind seen in your basic urban drama, the martial arts sequences are that of the Hong Kong-style. Miranda assisted in the fight choreography with two U.S.-based Hong Kong stuntmen who learned the ropes with their appearances in Hong Kong films.

First, there’s Roberto Lopez, who appeared in Once Upon a Time in China and America and even had the chance to work with the legendary Robert Tai on occasion while in Hong Kong. The second is Robert Samuels, who started his career with Sammo Hung and had worked in films such as Don’t Give a Damn and The Red Wolf. The experience these brought are apparent in the martial arts fights, especially with Wehrhahn, a taekwondo stylist, dishing out some action of his own without the use of a stunt double. Both Lopez and Samuels have major roles in the film as members of Langstrom’s organization. There are even cameo appearances from veteran Hong Kong villain actors Vincent Lyn and Steve Tartalia and even an appearance from “The Black Dragon”, Ron Van Clief, as a FBI agent.

While it may not exactly be the best action film in the world, Blazin’ does have a lot to offer for fans of urban dramas, Romeo and Juliet-like stories, and some Hong Kong-style major butt kicking.

WFG RATING: B+

A Global Star Productions Film. Director: Marcos Antonio Miranda. Producers: Marcos Antonio Miranda, Michael Wehrhahn, Nestor Miranda, Michael Irwin, and George Tan. Writer: Roberto Lopez. Cinematography: George Mitas and Evan Seplow. Editing: Hart F. Faber.

Cast: Michael Wehrhahn, Sascha Knopf, Marcos Antonio Miranda, Fat Joe, Angie Martinez, Cuban Link, Joseph Bono, Paula Roth, Roberto Lopez, Robert Samuels, Ron Van Clief, Steve Tartalia, Vincent Lyn.

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