Kickboxing legend Don “The Dragon” Wilson heads from Japan to Los Angeles to avenge his partner’s murder in this action-packed thriller.
Japanese-American cop Thomas Hoshino is one of the best in Japan, but is also known for his tendency to not exactly follow instruction. His latest target is Yamata, a notorious Yakuza boss. When Yuji, Thomas’ partner attempts to stop Yamata, he is killed by Yamata’s right-hand man Jaho, an expert in the “death touch”. When it is revealed that Yamata has traveled to Los Angeles and has been arrested, Thomas is sent to extradite him back to Japan.
There, Hoshino meets L.A. detective Karen Ryder, who after learning from her superior his reasoning to coming to L.A., must make sure he doesn’t cause trouble. During the extradition, a disguised Jaho kills Yamata. When Hoshino learns Jaho is responsible, he turns to his uncle Buntaro Iga, who is also an expert in the “death touch” and must train Thomas as he learns there are two styles of the “death touch”. A light side to heal and a dark to kill. While Jaho is trained in the dark style alone, Thomas must master both the light and the dark to be able to defeat him. And all this before a gang war is set to break out in Los Angeles.
This action vehicle starring “the greatest kickboxer of all-time” Don “The Dragon” Wilson, goes quite an interesting route with the villain mastering the “death touch”. It is apparently based on Japanese mythology and the film itself brings to mind a few past and even future action films involving martial arts. There are elements that will being to mind Rush Hour (when Terry Farrell’s Karen has to “babysit” Wilson’s Hoshino), Martial Law (the villain using a “death touch” style fatal blow), and Rush Hour 2, where you think it goes one way but takes a shocking turn.
Wilson and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine veteran Farrell have really good chemistry in the film. They start out in some rivalry because she isn’t too fond of Japanese cops. However, she eventually sees something in Hoshino and the inevitable does happen. Canadian powerhouse Michael Ironside may at times make you think he goes back to his usual villain type role in Ryder’s captain. Thankfully, that isn’t the case. He is just tough and stern, but does prove himself to be one of the good guys here. Edward Albert’s FBI agent Decklin also provides assistance in an effort to stop the gang war set to plague Los Angeles.
Soon Teck-Oh’s Yamata is quite ruthless, a type of role Soon is known for, such as Missing in Action 2: The Beginning and even in a drama film Yellow, he is ruthless in his attitude towards his son. He is meant to play this type of role. As for James Lew, another martial arts legend, he is nothing short of excellent in the role of the “death touch” master Jaho. Mako brings the comic relief when necessary, in the role of Thomas’ uncle/mentor Buntaro, a role similar to 1993’s Sidekicks, perhaps inspired by Simon Yuen’s legendary Beggar So/Sam the Seed, a role where an elderly expert in a martial art must add a comic element to his repertoire.
Art Camacho and Don “The Dragon” Wilson were in charge of the fight scenes and they are of the usual kickboxing shtick for the most part. However, in the case of Lew (and Wilson in the finale), they mix martial arts and the use of the “death touch”. Not bad for a 1990’s B-movie per usual.
Red Sun Rising is a really good film in Don “The Dragon” Wilson’s filmography. Blending elements of martial arts, comedy, and mythology in a modern-day setting, it’s safe to say this is one of his best films.
WFG RATING: B+
An Amritraj Entertainment production in association with Gorilla Pictures and RSR Productions. Director: Francis Megahy. Producers: Neva Friedenn and Paul Maslak. Writers: Robert Easter, Neva Friedenn, and Paul Maslak. Cinematography: John Newby. Editing: John Weidner.
Cast: Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Terry Farrell, Michael Ironside, Mako, Soon Teck-Oh, James Lew, Edward Albert, Stoney Jackson, Yuji Okumoto.