22 years ago Don “The Dragon” Wilson started his career as the King of the B-grade American martial arts movie with this standard action film Bloodfist produced by the legendary indie producer Roger Corman.
The film opens in an underground martial arts tournament in Manila. Michael Raye (Ned Hourani) just won the final of the tournament. But on the way home, he is attacked by a mysterious man, and is finally killed by the attacker. Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Jake Raye (Wilson) is a former boxer who has given up to donate a kidney to Mike that they were both young. Jake is set to become a boxing coach at a local gym, he is co-owner. When he gets a call about the death of Michael, Jake flies to Manila.
Jake gets in a world of problems when he is forced to fool a lot of players when a compulsive gambler and Boxer Baby Kick (Michael Shane) promise to share the winnings with Jake. It is not long before Jake and her baby become friends, and Jake was offered a place to stay when the baby takes her in. Jake quickly learns about Michael is participating in this tournament and was killed after he won. Jake soon finds himself meeting Kwong (Joe Mari Avellana), a man who knows the tournament inside out and offers training in martial arts Jake, so he can participate in the tournament in hopes of finding the killer of his brother.
Jake soon find themselves in the tournament and competition are some of his best yet. The best competitors of the tournament include Raton (Dutch kickboxing champion Rob Kaman) who listens to music to get his adrenaline, Black Rose (Billy Blanks), a central high-kicking, and Chin Woo (Kris Aguilar), a fighter monster who uses his brute strength to take his opponents.
Jake makes his way in the tournament, his search for the killer, Michael begins to move through this maze. Jake hears the other side of the story of who can be responsible for the death of Michael. However, Jake soon learns that not everything can seem like the way it is. Who killed Michael, Jake, and what to do when she learns the identity of the killer?
Extraordinare schlock producer Roger Corman has had its share of movies. He was the man responsible for the original shop of horrors (1960) and has tried all kinds of sexual comedy fantasy horror films of B-movies like Deathstalker. In 1988, Corman decided to take the road to the popular genre of martial arts movies. He found his lead actor in the kickboxing champion Don “The Dragon” Wilson, who made his film debut in a small role opposite John Cusack in the romantic comedy Say Anything (1989).
Screenwriter Robert King has made the area too well and all too familiar place. Corman had worked well in Philippine cinema and the pioneering director Cirio H. Santiago (who co-produced the film with Corman), and many of his early films shot there, naked by Vengeance (1985) Saigon Commandos (1987). So, as part of the plot, the film is largely set in the capital Manila.
The tournament has become the base film genre after genre, Enter The Dragon (1973), but became very popular in the United States after the success of Jean-Claude Van Damme films Breakthrough No Retreat No Surrender (1987). In fact, the title, makes the look of the martial arts movie Bloodfist NRNS barred as a rip-off, and in some ways, that may be true. However, the king has raised the stakes, making a boxer who has to learn martial arts tournament and find out who killed his brother, a former champion of the tournament.
Corman did not want to throw the real unknowns, but with the exception of kick-boxing fans during this time, nobody would have heard of Don “The Dragon” Wilson, before the film. Corman has invented the concept, to prove his case, throwing a real martial arts fighters. He is credited with their achievements to their names. Official Honor of Wilson, the film reads, “Don Wilson, World Kick Boxing Association Super Champion Kickboxing average.”
Rounding out the cast, cast of Corman Dutch champion Rob Kaman Muay Thai, Filipino martial artist and veteran B-movie bad actor Cris Aguilar, and a pre-project King Billy kickboxers. Filipino veteran actor Joe Mari Avellana helps make the film a subtle tone Kwong, the man who became the mentor of Jake in the martial arts. Hazel doubled as production designer for the movie too.
Fight choreography was made by a veteran Filipino martial artist and stuntman Ronald Asinas. Fights have been changed not too bad, but certainly not to compare the film of Chuck Norris, or even barred. The best movie battle, pitting Wilson and empty spaces, it seemed too short. Fortunately Asinas redeem preselected Bloodfist II (1990) and worked with Jerry Trimble, Live At Fist (1993), and a One-Man Army (1994), where the fighting was over Fast and the Furious movie.
Don “The Dragon” Wilson would be back in not one, but seven sequels, although the first result is related to the film when he returns as Jake. Meanwhile, Corman recycle the plot of this film again and again. Only through the streets of Los Angeles that the frame was full contact (1993) with Jerry Trimble role in Wilson released. So would a futuristic setting in Los Angeles provide a framework for Dragon Fire (1993) with a short-lived Dominic La Banca in the role of Wilson. Most recently, KAMEN RIDER: DRAGON KNIGHT co-star and XTreme Martial Arts champion Matt Mullins took the Wilson role in BLOODFIST 2050 (2005).
Ultimately, Bloodfist is the first of a series of films made by Don “The Dragon” Wilson to make a smooth transition from shooting champion biggest B-movie star of martial arts action 1990. Despite his lack of good fight sequences, virtually everyone involved to go bigger and better things, both inside and outside the film industry.