Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fist Fighter

Have you ever wandered into a garage sale or a Goodwill and stumbled upon a treasure trove of VHS titles that you've never heard of?  And I'm not talking about some obscure Spaghetti Westerns, or some grindhouse movies --- I'm talking about the films that will never ever be released on DVD because even the director's mother gets embarrassed when they're mentioned.  My friend, who is the closest thing to a hobbit that I have ever met, picked up this title for either the $79.99 cover price (I kid you not.  It even said, "price may be more in Canada") or for the sticker price of $0.95.  Either way, Bilbo overpaid.

Fist Fighter tells the tale of CJ Thunderbird (Jorge "George" Rivero), a man on a mission.  Well, he's not on a mission so much as he is responding to a telegram.  Obviously, this is a film on the cutting edge of technology.  I wouldn't even know where to pick up a telegram, much less how to have one delivered.  Anyway, the telegram, sent by someone who is never seen or heard from again, tells CJ that the man who killed his friend is currently doing some underground bare knuckle boxing in Bolivia.  That is enough to get CJ to travel to Bolivia.  Now, you might wonder if there is going to be some flashback showing the friend's death, or at least a mention of the dead friend at some later point in the movie.  Wonder no more, it never happens.  Once in Bolivia, CJ finds the bare knuckle boxing underground and challenges the villain who killed his buddy, Rhino (Matthias Hues), but the man is the top ranked fighter.  CJ has to fight his way up the ranks to earn a challenge with Rhino.  So, he wins one fight (One!) and they schedule his fight with Rhino.  And then they fight.

Now, you might be thinking, "Well, that was a short movie."  It's not.  It is about an hour and forty minutes long.  And I mean loooong.  The filmmakers manage to reach the climax of the film after only half an hour and, worried that their audience will ridicule them for such a quickie, focused on baseball stats in an effort to prolong the magic.  And prolong it they did; the fight gets interrupted by some corrupt police and CJ eventually is sent to jail.  In jail, CJ misbehaves and is sent to the sweatbox for punishment.  Apparently, the Bolivian prison sweatbox must be air-conditioned and lined with velvet, because CJ emerges with blow-dried hair, looking rested.  At one point, CJ has to fight The Beast (Gus Rethwisch), a large man with a shocking amount of fake body hair to make him look almost as gross as this guy.  Fighting in Bolivian prisons earns you your freedom, so CJ returns to fight Rhino, and he wins.  He doesn't kill Rhino, or even Rhino's evil manager who owns Bolivia's police force.  He fights and leaves.  The end.

That might sound like a crap movie, but I left out an awful love interest (Brenda Bakke, who doesn't even have a line until the forty minute mark), a dog that clearly was embarrassed to be in the movie, and another character, nicknamed "Punchy," for CJ to befriend and have killed by Rhino.  You're welcome.

What's good about this movie?  It has undoubtedly the most punches in the face that I have ever seen.  This isn't really a movie about boxing, it's more of a tutorial on how to get a concussion.  The next course is how to end up looking like Mickey Rourke.  You know how Rocky always blocks punches with his face and then comes back at the end of the fight?  Imagine Rocky fighting himself, but not having that burst at the end, and you might have an idea of the fight choreography here.  I've seen Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots dodge more punches than these guys.  The other good thing about this movie is that the main character is named CJ Thunderbird.  Now, if you are unfamiliar with bum wines, you might just giggle at that name just because it's ridiculous.  Bum wine connoisseurs, though, know that Thunderbird is truly the gasoline-scented cheap wine of choice for amateur bare knuckle boxers (AKA homeless people).  What's the word?  "Thunderbird!"  Indeed.

Sadly, the main character goes by "CJ" instead of "Thunderbird," and the movie goes downhill from there.  It's not just the horrible acting, although I will admit that this is the best Jorge Rivero movie I have seen; the other was Werewolf, which was made into a Mystery Science Theater episode.  It's not even the constant presence of Peruvian flute music.  I would place the blame squarely on the plot.  There were only two or three plot developments throughout the movie, and I had to rewind the movie to figure out what was going to happen next.  I didn't want to rewind, but I was lulled into a hypnotic trace by the inertia of the story, my friends (and my own) witty comments, and the jalapeno pizza I helped consume.  Even worse than the boring story (that is boring despite including seducing a battered woman, having two buddies murdered by the same guy, and a prison break) is the payoff.  CJ beats Rhino in the ring, becoming the champion of the (apparently three member) Bolivian underground bare knuckle boxing league.  He doesn't kill Rhino, or disable him.  He just leaves town.  What is the idea there?  "I hurt his pride.  That's enough revenge for my two murdered buddies."  Awful, just awful.
 I will admit, though, that this movie is far more enjoyable with friends, which makes it a mediocre hit with Lefty Gold.


  1. I had no idea you had written that experience up. I have many more for this summer. Many, many more.

  2. I review every movie I watch, which explains some of the questionable reviews I post. And I look forward to many more like this.