When it comes to video game films, this classic was a game changer. Now celebrating its 25th anniversary this August, Mortal Kombat launched two animated sequels and a live-action sequel with another live-action on the way for 2021. The original film is as cheesy as ever, but still retains its charm.
The fight choreography is mediocre at best. While the hero (Robin Shou) and villain (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) had martial training as did many of the stunt performers, the other lead actors did not, and it shows. Pat E. Johnson, who is a genuine Tang Soo Do master and choreographed the original Karate Kid, does his best, yet the fight choreography remains dated. Fight scenes have come a long way since then. Nevertheless, there’s that earworm soundtrack that combined techno with traditional Japanese instruments, didgeridoos, and Tuvan throat singing that makes all the fights somehow better. Finish him!
The testosterone-fueled battle between Jean-Claude Van Damme and the hulking Bolo Yeung has become fodder for so many internet memes that it has made Bloodsport a ‘must-see.’ This is yet another ‘underground no-holds-barred tournament’ film, but this time it is based on the highly disputed claims of an alleged fighter named Frank Dux. Nevertheless, despite the clichés, it’s a cult classic. Van Damme is at the peak of his physicality and his signature splits remain his gift. And Bolo is at his villainous best, raging like some steroidal psycho beast.
The Flying Guillotine (1975)
The Flying Guillotine is the ultimate medieval assassin weapon, a frisbee hat on a cord that when thrown over a victim, lops off their head which can be retrieved for a trophy with a quick yank. It’s a totally made-up weapon, but as ludicrous as it may be, it had legs. The Flying Guillotine launched a series of sequels and knockoffs, including a 2012 CGI-soaked redux.
Directed by Ho Menghua, who directed a lot of splatter horror films, and starring Chen Kuan Tai, a venerated Kung Fu star with nearly 150 credits, it’s another wuxia classic that became a cult film favorite, so much so that flying guillotines appear in many other successive unrelated films like The Heroic Trio and The Machine Girl.