Thursday, August 18, 2016

Day of the Panther - 1988

Is it possible for a movie to have pretty decent stunt coordination, yet only average to okay action?  I guess the action in this is pretty good sometimes, I don't mean to ride it, but the stunts and the coordination of the whole thing is great.  Actually, truth be told I liked this movie.  Could have been because of the whole charm of being shot in Australia, but I think that it was more of a genuine heartfelt action movie, where you can tell everyone had a great time making it, and they didn't get too blown outta shape about it.

Low budget, yet well acted and well shot, Day of the Panther has main character Jason Blade infiltrate a drug ring to bring it down from the inside after they kill his partner.  It's an excuse for a plot, and in the directors own words, "there were eight fight scenes in the first film and nine in the second" so it wasn't light on the action.  In case you were wondering, this was shot at the same time as the sequel, Strike of the Panther.  So it may have been mostly fight scenes, so what?!

Jason Blade is your very average but likable overconfident action star, he finds endless excuses to not wear a shirt, he beds plenty of women, and he never fights a fight which makes him look like he couldn't win.  This considered, it is never boring, and it kept me reasonably entertained.  The action is fast paced and well shot, they last just the right length and have plenty of cutaways so you're not just looking at two guys throwin punches for 15 minutes straight, like some of those action movies.  Also, there are people besides Jason who fight, like in the first opening scene, and those fights are more entertaining cause they're closer matched.

Like I said, Jason is after the drug gang that killed his partner.  Above is one of the drug gang members.  Why they wear weird masks in the opening scene, and then never again in the movie is anyone's guess.  I'd guess, if I had to, they used several actors in multiple roles.  Jason infiltrates the gang because they like how well he fights, and soon enough he's tracking down the leader and slowly his cover is being blown.  It all comes to a head and Jason gets his revenge in the short 83 minute movie.  Those weren't spoilers, you knew how this movie was gonna go.

It all makes sense, and it's handled well by Australian director Brian Trenchard-Smith who did Dead End Drive-In and BMX Bandits.  It was made to be low rent, it achieves low rent.  But for likable characters, a fun sense to it that never takes itself too seriously, and some badass fights, it gets placed even higher!  What can I say, I liked it?!  4 action movie stars.

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