Fighting Mad - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Fighting Mad Reviews

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½ November 3, 2011
AKA Death Force (1978), not 1982. James Iglehart (Randy Black in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls!) has his throat cut by Leon Isaac Kennedy (great seeing him as a bad guy) and washes up on an island inhabited by two Japanese WWII vets, who (of course) still believe the war is being fought. One trains Iglehart in the art of samurai swordsmanship, which comes in handy when he is rescued and returns to the city for REVENGE! A lot of fun. Iglehart was great! What happened to him, and why wasn't he in more?
Super Reviewer
October 16, 2011
A soldier tries for a big score in a heist before shipping home from Vietnam but is betrayed by his buddies; he washes up on an island where a samurai trains him to get revenge. Actually dumber than it sounds. Jayne Kennedy can't act and can't sing; what was she famous for, again?
½ August 26, 2011
AKA Death Force a pretty good blaxploitation/samurai flix that was one of the close to a 100 movies that Quentin Tarantino 'borrowed' from when he made Kill Bill. Sure the influence of Lady Snowblood, Game of Death & Lone Wolf & Cub are easier felt but it's there in a couple of spots. Leon Isaac Kennedy ('Too Sweet' from Penitentiary fame) double crosses James Iglehart on some gold, slits his troat & dumps him overboard leaving him for dead. Iglehart washes up on the shore of a island where he is nursed back to health by a couple of Japanese soldiers who have been there since WWII & is taught some Samurai technique. Once he returns to the mainland he choppy-choppys Kennedy & everyone in his crew. Enough fun for fans of the genre but hardly a classic. Pretty cool ass low demand entertainment though most of the time
November 29, 2007
Doug (Inglehart) and two other American soldiers (Kennedy and Argenziano) are returning home from Vietnam with a cache of gold earned by working with the black market when his partners-in-crime betray him and throw him into the ocean for dead. Rescued and befriended by a pair of soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army who have been living secretly on an isolated Southsea island, Doug is taught the ways of Samurai. Eventually making his way back to the States, he reunites with his wife (Jayne Kennedy) and sets about taking revenge on the men who betrayed him, first by dismantling the criminal empire they've built and then taking their lives.

"Fighting Mad" has all the making of a REALLY bad movie. When Doug was rescued by a pair of Japaense soldiers who didn't know WW2 was over, I was certain I was in for a stupid movie as well as a bad one. However, as ludicrous as I found the notion of him just happening to wash up on a desert island with a pair of old Japanese soldiers (one of whom just happens to be an honest-to-gosh samurai), it all worked.

Full of 1970s-ism such as pimps in big hats, Italian gangsters loving restraunts, references to Black Muslims, vengeful martial artists, and corrupt, twisted Vientnam veterans, this film turns out to be a rather engaging revenge flick. The Japanese soldiers turn out to be more charming than laughable, and the training period that Doug goes through is one that starts to feel believable. The same is true of the rise to power of the Vietnam vets turned Los Angeles crimelords in an age when gangsters still had a veneer of businessmen about them. The movie overall is a rather engaging, old-fashioned crime/martial arts fantasy with the villains who are such nasty pieces of work that it's a delight to watch our hero--reformed by the tutalage of an honorable warrior and the love he has for his wife and child--take them apart.

If the editing of the film had been just a tiny bit less abrupt--it seemed like there were only two establishing shots in the whole movie--this could have easily have rated a Seven or perhaps even an Eight on the Tomato-scale. The script was well done, tne acting good, and the action well-staged.

"Fighting Mad" is a movie that anyone who enjoyed "Kill Bill" or movies like it. It's also a movie that carries with it a curiously modern message of racial harmony, something that wasn't exaxtly common in "drive-in" type movies like this one back then. The man villains are a white and a black man working together with hired muscle that's mostly Italian or Hispanic, while the hero is trained by Japanese on the desert island, teams with a Japanese cabbie Stateside, and is helped along in his quest for revenge by one of the few white cops not bought off by the villians.

(Oh.. if someone out there reading this knows Brian De Palma, point this movie out to him. It's got those corrupt, murderous United States soldiers he's so fond of tellign the world about. Maybe "Fighting Mad" will become a favorite and he'll be inspired to make a movie that's entertaining.)

Fighting Mad (aka "Death Force")
Starring: James Inglehart, Leon Isaac Kennedy, Carmen Argenziano, and Jayne Kennedy
Director: Cirio H. Santiago
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