The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ring of Fire (1991)

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We're about 15 films away from getting all of Hall of Famer Don "The Dragon" Wilson's movies up, and I've got a good beat on a lot of them (unlike Michael Dudikoff, Lorenzo Lamas, and Cynthia Rothrock), so I think we're going to try and sew up as many of those as possible by this time next year, if not sooner, and what better time to start than the present. Doesn't hurt that this also has Gary Daniels.

Ring of Fire is a loose Romeo and Juliet adaptation with a gang of Caucasian martial arts toughs pitted against a gang of Asian martial arts toughs, and the love between Don "The Dragon" Wilson and Maria Ford is at odds with this dangerous feud. I'm not kidding, that's the movie. The left turn this takes is that Tybalt kills Benvolio, and because of that, Wilson has to fight him at the end for revenge. Mercutio just gets his ass kicked.

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Where do I begin? Maybe Don "The Dragon" Wilson at the Masquerade ball, dressed as the Phantom of the Opera, and the silly 80s teen dramedy shot of him approaching a lovestruck Maria Ford from across the dance floor. They tried their best by making Donny a 32-year-old just out of med school guy, in an attempt to make him seem more youthful in spirit, but he was in his mid-to-late 30s when this was filmed, and looked ridiculous as a teen romantic lead-- which is basically what he was, only really fighting at the very end. The rest of the film was Karate Kid mixed with West Side Story, which , I don't know, you tell me if that sounds great. Some decent fight scenes, a lot of 80s cheesy goodness, but the rest of it was entirely sauteed in wrong sauce.

Donny was giving it the old college try here-- and when I say old, I'm being literal. It just wasn't his bag until the end when he really got into it and was able to fight. The thing is, he's not Bruce Lee, you can't get away with keeping him from fighting through the whole movie. I'm only watching Don "The Dragon" Wilson to see him fight, just ask any Bloodfist film. The idea was noble: set Romeo and Juliet against the tensions between Asians and Caucasians in LA, but Shakespeare only lays down the foundation, after that you need a solid carpenter, plumber, and electrician to finish it, and none of that was present here, so ultimately Donny was left alone to freeze in a half-built house. I'm not sure where this Dragon Completion Project will take us next, but you can be sure we'll be here again in 8 posts with another one of his movies. I know, you can't wait.

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Someone else worthy of a completion project is Mr. Gary Daniels-- or G. Diddy as the kids call him... um... er... maybe they don't-- but we have much further to go to get there, plus he's still making movies, and then there's some old ones that aren't that easy to find. Ring of Fire was only Gary's fourth ever, and he was treated as such, only having a small role as a heel who gets taken down a peg by Wilson's cousin, aka the Benvolio character. I actually do have a few possibilities in mind for the next Daniels movie, it's just a matter of which one I get my hands on first. Stay tuned after Halloween.

The white V-neck T-shirt is an interesting phenomenon. Women will often jump all over it as a bad thing if a guy they don't like is rocking one, yet love it if a guy they find hot has one on. I used to rock one myself, but I stayed in the medium size range (I'm only 5'7") to keep the V from creeping too far down my chest. It's hard to tell if that's me not being daring enough, or demonstrating a modicum of taste, but Ron Yuan here takes it to a level I've never seen before. That thing almost reaches his naval. On the other hand, there's the crew neck white T that works well too, just ask the oppositely built Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire and David Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth. Ron Yuan, fashion icon, or going too far?

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According to imdb, Michael Jai White is in this movie. I didn't see him, nor did I find his name in the credits. This is a huge mystery to me. I'm not tagging him just in case, but I wonder... This wouldn't have been his first film, appearing in the second two Toxic Avengers, and in 1991 was only a year removed from Universal Soldier. Too bad, because this movie could've really used him. As far as his recent work goes, he hasn't done anything that could be included here since 2009's Blood and Bone, though he was in a Mortal Kombat short as Jax. In the Damage post I was talking about Stone Cold Steve Austin as someone who could step in and be that next generation of DTV action stars after the current ones retire, but no one has more potential to do that than Michael Jai White, so let's hope he gets after it some more.

There were some other points. Maria Ford was hot and rocking some hot 80s gear, Vince Murdocco and Dale Jacoby were great meatheads; but overall, this was too much teen romance about two non-teens, and too little the great fights that talent like this should've delivered. We'll see what happens in Ring of Fire 2, which if I remember correctly is based on The Tempest-- but don't quote me on that.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102793/

12 comments:

  1. GARY DANIELS IS IN THIS? That's awesome. And I hate that I don't own it. I do have parts 2 & 3 though. And I want to watch them but something in me needs to see the first one first...although it probably doesn't matter.

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  2. If you're a Daniels completist, you might enjoy him in one of his early roles. He has a good fight scene at the beginning, and a little more work later, so it's not a total waste.

    I mean, the Don "The Dragon" character is the same in all three, so it's not like the Bloodfists where after part two none of them have anything to do with one another; but I think if you read my review you have enough to go on for parts two and three. I'd also say you should make sure you get this cheap-- don't pay more than a few bucks.

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  3. Yeah this is easily Wilson's weakest film, like you said too much romance and not enough fighting, the sequels are a big improvement in the fighting department. Anyways what's you're next Daniels film going to be-Fatal Blade? Submerged? Recoil? Cold Harvest? Knights? Full Impact? American Streetfighter? Capital Punishment? Also one last thing-guess which actor is rumored to be starring in one of Daniels upcoming films called The Human Factor-Michael Dudikoff! I REALLY hope that rumor is true!

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  4. I heard that about Dudikoff too, so we'll cross our fingers. As far as what's on deck from Daniels, I'm not being vague on purpose to create suspense or anything, it's a matter of making sure I get the films I'm planning on reviewing in my hands before I announce them, that way if I don't get the first choice, I can go with the second or third one without any explanation. You'll just have to wait and see like I will which one it'll be.

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  5. Liked Gary Daniels in this! I love the part when he and his gang of old fat guys are chasing Eric Lee.

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  6. Not gonna lie, I'm new to the Daniels and The Dragon. But I am a fan of what I've seen. And of course...I have to own them all so I'll eventually get them all.

    I happened across Cold Harvest because Barbara Crampton was in it...little did I know it would open a whole new dimension of actor to mine eyes. Loved it. And just watched Blood Moon...loved the hell out of that too.

    As far as Wilson goes...I have Ring of Fire 2 & 3, The Last Sentinel, Night Hunter, and Black Belt. All of which I really need to sit down and watch.

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  7. I loved Bloodmoon too. Out of those Wilson films, I think you like Black Belt the most, but not in a serious way. He and Mattias Hues are just too silly.

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  8. I have this on a double bill with its sequel picked up for a measily two bucks. I will get to it one day but the Bloodfists will come first. So far the only Don Ive seen is the hilarious Inferno.

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  9. I loved Inferno too. I'm trying to track down the three Bloodsports I haven't covered, I, II, and VII, and I think the original might be my next one if I can get it, before I go into Ring of Fire II. I can't wait to see what you think of them all.

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  10. Oh boy, I don't even know where to start with this one. I would actually recommend it though strictly not for what the filmmakers have in mind. This movie is really something else. Starting with the fact that The Dragon's name is Johnny Wu, which is pretty amusing. (A refrence to John Woo perhaps?) The production values are decent,some of the fight choreography is solid and The Dragon has some screen presence (Just not enough to hold the screen like Bruce Lee or even a Dolph Lundgren could) Aside from that this is a movie that makes absolutely no dramatic sense on any level. First off, The Dragon's plan of attack is to tell his cousin to encourage a fight with broken glass on your fists (Kickboxer 1 rip off) which is ridiculous. Also said cousin Steven Vincent Leigh is by far a better actor than The Dragon and everyone else. Anyway given how violent said brother is, not to mention a jilted ex, this is so stupid. Secondly there is the love story, it's not just The Dragon it's Maria Ford. Who looks at least 29, Everyone else looks 25 minmimum so watching them engage in such juvenile behavior is just ridiculous. Another thing is in fact what ends the final fight sequence. So like (Spoiler) Maria Ford runs in to stop The Dragon from getting stabbed with a sword and she gets cut and then everyone just stops fighting and the movie just wraps up real fast. There is much more, the dance, the awkwardly acted romance between Dragon and Ford, the bizarre reltationship between Dragon and the Asian gang, his cousin and the mother who tells The Dragon that Ford still loves him. It is so insane that you have to almost applaud the ambition involved. Plus words cannot express just how awful of an actor Vince Murdocco is. This is one of the cheesiest movies i've ever seen, as Shakespeare it is flat up laughable and overall I don't even know how to approach such when I finally get around to reviewing it.

    2 is pretty awful by the way, much worse. 3 is okay with lots of action and made with relative competence. But in sheer watchablity I give this one the highest marks. I mean this is a trainwreck of a film and yet it steps so wrong to the beat, it feels so right.

    Also, there has to be something said about the line "PMD" when Ford freaks out on her brother and his friends. PMS is what was intended and it's hilarious that they got this wrong.

    Lastly given everyone is a martial artist in the movie, wouldn't the white racists prejudiced against Asians, see irony in practicing in something that is, you know Asian.

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  11. Maria Ford was 25 when this was made, so 29 wasn't that much of a stretch. The bad break-up for three scenes part at the end was very awkward too, leading to the hilarious win-her-back moment in the aerobics class.

    I thought about the Asian thing too with the white guys doing Asian martial arts, but I think that was just another part of the Romeo and Juliet aspect that wasn't well thought out. Sauteed in wrong sauce.

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