Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Blind Fury

The Action Mutant…
has the sinking feeling that Rutger Hauer’s career may be on a down slope.

Blind Fury

review by Joe Burrows

I remember first seeing Rutger Hauer in Nighthawks, which was his American debut in 1981. The Dutch born actor has always been somewhat of a cult entity, especially after his legendary turn as Roy Batty in Blade Runner a year later. Unfortunately, his career has not always maintained the same level, as things seemed to slide off pretty bad for him after 1990. A descent into B-movie hell has led to a steady, yet unspectacular career since then:

1980s notables
Nighthawks, Blade Runner, The Osterman Weekend, Ladyhawke, Flesh+Blood, The Hitcher, Blind Fury

1990s & 2000s notables
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Surviving the Game, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Sin City, Batman Begins

B movie notables
Wedlock, Beyond Justice, Split Second, Arctic Blue, Nostradamus, Omega Doom, Bleeders, Deathline, Tactical Assault, Bone Daddy, New World Disorder, Lying in Wait, Jungle Juice, Turbulence 3: Heavy Metal, Dracula III: Legacy, The Hunt for Eagle One, Minotaur

Seriously, I could go on for hours (on the third category that is). As usual, let’s focus on happier times…

The Plot, as it was:
Hauer plays Nick Parker, a soldier permanently blinded by an explosion in Vietnam. He’s found by natives and they not only nurse him back to health but teach him how to best brandish a samurai sword. 20 years later, he’s in the States to find his old war buddy Frank (Terry O’Quinn) and reacquaint. Nick tries to find out where he is from Frank’s estranged wife (Meg Foster and her scary eyes) but she ends up murdered by a mob grunt named Slag (Randall “Tex” Cobb). Turns out Frank is a degenerate gambler that has been licensed by casino magnate MacCready (Noble Willingham) to manufacture drugs for him to save his fortune. Nick travels to Las Vegas with Frank’s bratty son Billy (Brandon Call) in tow as his guide to take down the mob and find his old buddy.

Don’t shoot me…I’m only the reviewer!:
If Blind Fury had its tongue any farther in its cheek, it would possibly swallow and choke on it. Though Hauer’s character is blind, I half expected him to wink at the camera periodically to confirm the joke. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. In fact, this movie is too goofy yet enjoyable to put down for long. It would actually be a fun movie for the kids, if it weren’t for some of the more graphic violence and a few profanities here and there. They would most likely be drawn to the rapport between Nick and Billy and take heart in the film’s virtues (friendship, honor, heroism, etc.). At only 86 minutes, Blind Fury moves crisply despite its faults. And there are a few. Seriously, seeing a guy get his hand chopped off only to see him pulling it back as he winces in pain in the next shot is forgivable. However, there is one thing that irked me about the ending that really is inexcusable…* SPOILER ALERT*

The main villain MacCready doesn’t die. He doesn’t even get arrested! One moment, Parker sends Slag through a window and down a mountainside and the next moment; Nick is seeing Frank and Billy off to their bus! No mention of MacCready whatsoever! That’s just horrible continuity and post-production work. And I don’t believe there were ever any plans for a sequel, so I have no idea why this was left untouched. And besides, it would be hard to do one now to follow up the MacCready storyline since Noble Willingham’s been dead since 2004!

Ok, then. Besides that, this is a fun little film. It’s nice to see Hauer on his game as a hero instead of a heavy for once. His charisma carries him in scenes that would seem uncomfortable for other action stars to pull off. Everyone seems to have fun with what their given, though Call annoyed the living hell out of me as the pint-sized sidekick. I tend to not like child/cop buddy teams (i.e. Cop and a Half) but I assume this one was needed because the inclusion of the child sidekick does at least make Parker’s battle somewhat credible (more like 0.1% credible than 0% without the kid). Regardless, if you can stomach a blind man winning any kind of fight, idiotic cowboy hitmen, silly dialogue (“You're a walking advertisement for hiring the handicapped!”) and the brain trust of the ending, then you will find Blind Fury a guilty delight.

Character/Supporting Actor Sighting!:
- Longtime pro wrestling and action film semi-staple Tiger Chung Lee is the bearded casino bodyguard.

Body Count/Violence: 30. Though the film is not as bloody as the concept would lead you to believe, there is enough slicing and dicing to satisfy. Along with Parker slashing his way through his foes, there’s also shooting, car chases, electrocution, chopping off hands, etc. Aside from the nightclub massacre and Parker offing some hillbillies in a cornfield, my favorite is when Parker slices a foe in half, sending his legs and torso separately falling down a mountain side.

Sexuality/Nudity: Nothing.

Language/Dialogue: Mild, with a few F bombs sprinkled throughout.

How bad was it?:
Critics either dismissed the film as too stupid to exist or embraced its lack of credibility and ridiculousness. Most of the reviews I read had it right in the middle of the road: **1/2.

Did it make the studio’s day?:
After first debuting overseas (where Hauer is a big draw), TriStar Pictures didn’t give Blind Fury much of a chance upon its 3/16/90 American premiere. Dumped on only 353 screens, it finished 12th its first weekend and didn’t even clear a million bucks. It finished its run with a total gross of $2.7 million, presumably against a budget of somewhere between $7-10 million.

Film: **1/2/*****
Entertainment value: ***1/2/*****

Copyright 2007 The Action Mutant.


Anonymous said...

I've always wondered about this movie since my days in a video store and seeing it on the shelf in our action section.

Thanks to Encore's Action channel, I watched it today and I liked it.

Nothing great, but a fun watch on a lazy day.

I too loved Hauer taking a turn as a good guy. I wish that was a role he had been given more often during his prime.

Joe Burrows said...

One of my favorites when I was younger, say 13 or 14.

It's a shame Hauer hasn't had a higher profile career because he usually makes any film he's in at least somewhat watchable. It doesn't get much better than him waxing poetic on life in Blade Runner, though ;)