“Great, just what I need, a black man in a wheelchair. I wish they killed me, too.”
John Rambo. Ellen Ripley. John McClane. He-Man. All timeless action icons. But guess what motherf — — -! None of them can hold a candle to Alex Hunter (Five-Time World Kickboxing Champion Curtis Bush), a.k.a. The Dark Angel, a.k.a. Psycho Kickboxer, the scourge of the underworld, the bringer of justice, the avenger of the innocent, the wearer of sweet mustaches.
Alex Hunter had it all. A beautiful fiancé, a noble police officer for a father, and a successful career as a kickboxer — and then one terrible night it was all taken from him. The vicious crime lord Hawthorne, the target of Alex’s father’s investigation, unleashes a wave of horrific violence on the family. Alex, his father, and his girlfriend are captured, brought to a warehouse, and beaten senseless. Strung up and smacked around, Alex is forced to watch as his dad’s head is blown off by a shotgun and his girlfriend is raped and her throat is cut. He’s left for dead.
Then a wheelchair-bound Vietnam vet named Joshua stumbles upon our near-dead hero, nurses him back to health, tells him Hawthorne is his sworn enemy from Nam, and begins a punishing training regimen designed to transform Alex from a mild-mannered mixed martial artist into the Psycho Kickboxer. And so it begins, one man’s violent crusade against injustice. No criminal is safe once the Psycho Kickboxer is on the case and, even if it’s a low-grade misdemeanor, the perpetrator is likely to have his neck snapped.
What’s this? You’re skeptical about Alex Hunter’s action prowess? You find my claims dubious? Try these facts on for size:
1. When Alex is captured he’s shot in the heart, beaten mercilessly, and hung on a chain — but he doesn’t die.
2. Joshua tells Alex that he’s been unconscious and feverish for an entire week. He was in a musty old warehouse riddled with bacteria and I’m pretty sure Joshua didn’t bother to remove the bullet. Despite all that he was doing sit-ups and sparring within a few days and throttling bad guys not long after that.
3. His first night out as a vigilante he’s accosted by two muggers. He promptly beats them to death in a disturbingly savage manner. Sure they were apparently harmless twentysomethings with one bat between them and maybe it could be argued that the severity of the crime didn’t call for their heads to be caved in but f — — them. Joshua rolls in, upset, but not because of the senseless loss of innocent life but because Alex “endangered” himself even though he had a better chance of getting bested by a pair of squirrels than those two clowns.
4. Alex Hunter is so awesome, during his training montages, he doesn’t need to do anything cool like kick down a tree or have his groin stretched out by a makeshift pulley system. Nope, for the big montage finales, Alex Hunter jumps rope real fast and squats low to the ground.
5. Even middle-schoolers that spray graffiti show Alex Hunter the respect he deserves. Or it could be that they’re weirded out by a grown man in a ninja costume running around in the middle of the day.
6. When Hawthorne eventually does capture him, instead of putting a bullet in Alex Hunter’s head, he arranges for a series of bouts with the “best fighters in the world,” who he apparently flew in overnight — but they don’t stand a chance, even though Alex is handcuffed and bleeding from a gunshot wound.
7. Finally, Alex Hunter knows when a crime is going to happen before it even takes place, allowing him to get in position just as the badness goes down. He apparently watches transpire from some concealed location, hops out, briefly stuns the criminal because of his bodacious ninja garb, and then kicks them in the gonads. It’s like a combination of Spidey-sense and whatever those weird bald people from Minority Report used to see into the future
People, this is just the beginning of the immense treasures that Psycho Kickboxer has to offer. This is, without a doubt, one of the all-time greatest so-bad-its-good cheesefests that I’ve ever seen, and something that get will much replay when unsuspecting visitors stop by the Johnson household. It rivals Gymkata in its sheer action ineptitude, and that’s not just because both films star a champion from an obscure sport trying to break into the movies and failing in blazing, humiliating fashion.
So many great moments! Like how everyone in the city gets their news from a country music radio station; or homeless Joshua’s dumpy warehouse which happens to house some of the finest gym equipment money can buy; or Cassie, the resilient female journalist pursuing the Dark Angel story who forgoes traditional undergarments and goes commando all the time; or the grateful pizzeria owner who, after Alex murders a would-be armed robber, shouts out “I owe you a couple of subs!”; or Hawthorne dressing up Cassie in a slutty outfit to watch Alex fight to the death, not unlike how Jabba the Hutt handled Princess Leia; or the oppressive synth music; or the way-too-loud sound effects (perhaps lifted from Streets of Rage 2?); or these lines:
“Remember, karate is used only for self-defense. If I hear of any of you going out looking for trouble or becoming karate bullies — I’m going to smash you myself.”
— Alex (to his karate class of children)
“Well I’ll be damned. You just never know when you’ll find a half-dead white boy in this town.”
Look, if you’re a fan of bad movies you owe it to yourself and your inebriated frat-boy buddies who share similar taste to add this to your collection.
As if that weren’t enough, Shock-o-Rama tossed in Canvas of Blood, a nearly-as-godforsaken revenge thriller from 1997 about a Vietnam vet turned horrible landscape artist and his quest to brutally slaughter the scumbags who killed his daughter. Oh, wait, actually his daughter wasn’t killed. She had surgery on her wrist that didn’t go well. That throws him into such a terrible rage that he solders on various mechanical implements to his hand and proceeds to go about his killing. He’s got a tiny buzzsaw, some kind of castrating mechanism, a flamethrower, all attached to his wrist for maximum stopping power.
The synopsis on the back of the case describes the film as this: “Armed with a bizarre mechanical appendage, Vietnam Vet Paul Hanover begins a bloody quest to avenge his daughter’s botched surgery.” Makes it sound like the greatest film of all time, but that is not the case. It’s miserably paced, putridly acted and directed, and any value as an object of derision is overcome by brutal tedium. There are a handful of WTF bits, like some of the most random nudity ever and an amazingly awful original rock song composed for one of the chase scenes (it has to be heard to be believed). Of the two films on this disc, Psycho Kickboxer is the champ.
Shifty full frame, 2.0 stereo, and a minimal amount of extras (trailers and old school news clips about the making of Psycho Kickboxer) offer a lean disc, but the joy here is watching a kickboxer go psycho.