Jul 4, 2008

Kick Or Die

(This review will have spoilers in the 5th paragraph)

Another A.I.P. (Action International Pictures) classic, Kick Or Die is whole-heartily an extreme Lifetime Action Original. Kevin Bernhardt plays Don Potter, a mountain man ex-"kickfighter" who after a horrifying accident involving the death and rape of his wife, escapes into nature in order to to become one with his spiritual side.

As soon as the same serial rapist begins striking again and more frequently, his longtime boxing pal recruits him to train the local girls to become self-defense masters. Part Dolemite and Part The Fighter, Kick Or Die is amazingly corny with a lot of heart for what it is. There's no doubt that it is bad production value, but it so over-the-top enjoyable. The female that tears between the two men who will do nothing to stop the rapes moonlights as an aspiring singer. Her "singing" is the most atrocious audio pitch I have ever heard.

Kevin Bernhardt might be the most lame and un-stylistic fighter I have ever seen. When the psuedo-Goblin music begins to thump, I almost expect a decent fight scene but am instead treated with a painfully dull montage of misplaced kicks that are blocked and his "rebel" attitude. His social interactions with society are quite often interrupted by depictions of our "rape culture." If only Don Potter had viewed Irreversible, suicide might then be an option.

The final showdown is recreated with a classic video game vibe to it. He transverses from obstacle to obstacle in a "Next Level" format which leads to security guards, then motorcycle goons. Fighting in a moving jeep going at a max speed of 10 miles per hour is hardly rousing, and the constant training montages of women embracing power over men is tedious and an eye-roller.

Tim Wallace plays the blond hair, blue eyed Aryan sidekick who turns out to be the rapist. His M.O. is to style up in Blackface with a scraggly beard - more reminiscent to a vagabond Negro. In the showdown at the end of the film, one of his Negro "employees" walks in. The Aryan grabs his gun and after the Black man has time to stutter "Howdy Boss," he's lying dead in the dining room.

Kick Or Die is hokey but I found this classic entry in the once-feeble made-for-TV martial arts genre very enjoyable. I'd recommend viewing it but heed the UK VHS edition. It cut out around a minute of "violent sexual situations" This mainly being women with their shirts ripped off and in the process of being victimized. We all know if you cut out T & A, you might as well have never made the movie.


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