April 24, 2013

Superfights (1995)

SOMETIMES, I WORRY that I won’t see another film worthy of Trashterpiece Theatre. But then along comes a movie like Superfights, and all is right with the world.

“Superfights,” as if I have to tell you, are a type of pro wrestling/martial arts hybrid – “where no one knows the outcome!” the announcer assures us – with Superfighters sporting gimmicky nicknames such as Budokai, Dark Cloud, and Night Stalker. Mega-fan Jack Cody (Brandon Gaines) attends every event, even teaching himself the moves he sees his favorite Superfighters perform. (Conveniently, he works in a warehouse full of mannequins, which he uses as practice dummies.)

After Jack becomes a local celebrity by beating up a trio of would-be muggers, he’s recruited by Superfights president Mr. Sawyer (Keith Vitali) to compete in the ring. Jack trains with Angel (Kelly Gallant), a freakishly muscular female Superfighter who overtly flirts with Jack but may have ulterior motives. Watch in amazement as Angel trains Jack using the latest advancements in 1995 technology, including punching at a stream of light and dodging giant phallic pipes that dart out of the walls.

Oh, I almost forgot: Mr. Sawyer’s Superfights empire might be a front for extortion, drug running, mind control, and murder.

Superfights captures the pure essence of direct-to-video, B-movie action flicks of the mid-‘90s. The B-level acting. The hokey, overly serious training montages. The meathead, be-the-best mentality of the fighters. The gratuitous violence. The melodramatic soundtrack, awash in mid-‘90s synth and squealing guitar riffs. This one’s got it all, set against the martial arts hotbed of…Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

The film also features other ridiculous moments, such as Jack getting attacked by a ninja while jogging in broad daylight – a ninja who, while fleeing, literally tells Jack to “just say no” to the “vitamins” supplied by Angel as part of Jack’s Superfighters regimen.

All that being said, the fight scenes in Superfights are in-sane. Director and fight choreographer Tony Leung gives us dozens of fights featuring rapid-fire exchanges, impressive editing, and over-exaggerated impact with blood, sweat, and spit flying everywhere. It culminates in a multi-fight finale between Cody and Sawyer that’s so amazing, I immediately replayed it once the credits started to roll.

A real-life third-degree black belt, Gaines’ role in Superfights was his first and last in films; he’s now a public speaker, rabbi, and acupuncturist living in California. Gallant, unfortunately, has had her share of run-ins with the law since Superfights, including a wrongful death lawsuit and recent arrests for DUI and probation violation.

Highly entertaining and a candidate for repeat viewing, Superfights delivers the goods in both martial arts action and cheeseballiness – rightfully earning its spot in the Trashterpiece pantheon.

(Bonus: Watch for a brief appearance by wrestling legend Rob Van Dam as a doomed Superfighter. His fight was originally supposed to be much shorter, but the filmmakers were so impressed with his physical abilities that they made his fight longer and took a full day to shoot.)

Is it suitable for your kids?
Violence: The Superfights get increasingly violent, leading to bloodied faces and broken bones. Superfighters beat up citizens and two-bit hoods while collecting “protection” money. Several people are beaten to death, many with blood spurting from their mouths. A man is bloodily decapitated by a ceiling fan.
Sex/Nudity: Angel is seen briefly nude from behind as she enters a shower. Jack and Angel share a kiss wearing nothing but bathrobes. Angel makes several overt advances on Jack, with lots of grabbing and groping. Sawyer and Angel are shown getting dressed post-coitus.
Language: “A**hole,” “bulls**t,” “s**t”
Drugs: Superfighters are shown taking Sawyer’s steroid-laced, mind-controlling “vitamins.” A man snorts cocaine.

Will your FilmMother want to watch it?
If she’s the kind of person who enjoys B-movies and talking back to the screen, but doesn’t mind some violence and bloodshed thrown in the mix, Superfights could be a great film for you to share. Otherwise, check it out yourself or with some friends.

Experience the awesome Superfights trailer,
then try in vain to fight your urge to see the film:

* Director: Tony Leung
* Screenwriter: Keith W. Strandberg
* Stars: Brandon Gaines, Feihong Yu, Keith Vitali, Kelly Gallant, Chuck Jeffreys, Cliff Lenderman, Brian Ruth, Patrick Lung-Kong, Karen Bill
* MPAA Rating: PG-13

Rent Superfights from Netflix >>


Anonymous said...

Brandon Gaines is now a Rabbi who practices eastern medicine and lectures on Kabblah all over the US. I heard him in LA and he was amazing!!! I hope he will have more public exposure. I am going to check out his next lectures

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