Who’s ready to head out with me to the local video store today?
Who’s ready for a look into a dystopian future?
Who’s ready for some good old fashioned…
Me neither, but that’s what we’re INDUCTING today. And hey, just in case you’re wondering why I am covering an obscure direct to strea…err…DVD…make that VHS release here at the WrestleCrap today, let me give you an explanation:
Step back and look at that face.
Imagine that being the answer to anything.
But such is the case here today, as we are getting the first ever movie starring the Ultimate Warrior.
Or James, as his friends call him.
Let’s see, 1993…that would have been following Warrior running down the aisle at the end of WrestleMania 8 and before he came back and feuded with Goldust, right? Even if it’s not, I’m just going to say that’s the timeframe. If not, I’m sure one of you helpful chaps (or chapettes) will correct me in the comments below.
The 2007 future of this film kicks off and immediately has two things of which I greatly approve: neon and women with giant mall hair. Pretty sure neither of those existed in great extent in the actual 2007, but let’s just roll with it. This lovely anchor gives all the day’s top news, which includes the following stories: an American-Japanese manned mission to Mars…a resurgence in AIDS due to a phoney virus being fabricated by gangs in Los Angeles…and trouble in the law-free zone in the middle of the city.
If those are my three choices of plots for this film, I firmly stand in the corner of “American-Japanese Manned Mission to Mars.” You put Ultimate Warrior in a spaceship? I’m there, dude. Also, “Astronaut Jim Hellwig” (excuse me, “Astronaut JAMES Hellwig”) would be a much better title than “Firepower”.
In the local dive bar, we’re introduced to our heroes, Nick Sledge and Daryn Braniff. The latter is portrayed by Chad McQueen, the son of legendary action hero Steve McQueen, famous for the movie Bullit. Spoiler alert: this movie isn’t as good as that one. Anyhoo, the two cops learn of the big bad, a nogoodnik going by the name of “The Swordsman.” At least I am pretty sure he is the big bad. And if so, that’s one of the worst names for a lead villain I’ve ever heard.
The cops hit the streets and we get a big ol’ car chase. In the interest of of showing I am a fair man, it’s pretty good. I mean, sure, you could nitpick that the police vehicles are actually minivans covered with black cardboard to make them look more “futuristic”, but I won’t go there. Instead, let’s focus on this gigantic double flipping car wreck with an even more gigantic explosion. That actually looks really good. The filmmakers obviously agree, so much so that we see it three times in a row. I’m used to seeing replays at sporting events, in movies not so much. But hey, it was impressive and probably used up 80%+ of the film’s budget, so get the most you can out of it I reckons.
You wouldn’t expect the cops to capture Swordsman 13 minutes into the film, but they do and we are introduced to just who this madman is. Yep, the Warrior. He’s not a hero at all, he’s a bad guy, one with a rap sheet a mile long, one featuring murder, loittering (sp) and petty theft. PETTY THEFT!
Not one to go down easily, Warrior attacks the cops at the precinct. You might expect a gorilla press or some clotheslines, but that’s not the case here. Instead, he starts throwing back elbows like he’s auditioning for the 1993 version of the Blackpool Combat Club. Seriously, if the dude was still alive and I sent Tony Khan that GIF, I bet we could have gotten a Blade Runners reunion next week on Dynamite.
Oh, and before I continue, many apologies for the darkness of the images in this induction. The bulk of the movie appears to have been filmed on a camera with a millimeter or so of grime on the lens. Hopefully it’s bright enough that you are able to see that Warrior was subdued by a neon green laser net (also something that didn’t exist IRL 2007…or IRL 2022 for that matter).
It doesn’t take long for Swordy’s gang to break into this (warehouse disguised as a) prison and get him out, escaping in a bus that appears have been created using solely clay, aluminum siding, and mauve primer. If Aardman Animation were ever to decide to start making buses, this is what I’d imagine. Could totally see Wallace and Gromit tooling down the road to the Yorkshire chicken farm in this jalopy.
Sledge and Brannif discover Swordsman hanging out at the Palace Theater, tonight featuring a certainly legitimate and sanctioned sporting contest called DEATH RING. It’s essentially Battle of the Tough Guys from No Holds Barred but with weapons.
In a totally 90’s move, the battles also feature video game style intro graphics. If Atari ever made Pit Fighter II (and thank God they didn’t because that game was horrible), this is exactly what it would look like. And just in case you weren’t quite sure that they were shooting for that vibe…
…no less than KANO from Mortal Kombat makes an appearance!
Pretty sure Midway could have filed suit here even without the guy rolling into a ball and hurling himself at his foes.
Soon enough, the Swordsman…wait, the Swords MAAAAAAAN as the ring announcer calls him, makes his appearance and proceeds to beat up an elderly practitioner of the martial arts. I know that’s a trope of the genre, but it doesn’t seem quite right here with crazy Jim Hellwig being all crazy. Warrior lives up to the Sword Man monicker here, shoving a blade right through the old geezer’s sternum.
About this time, we also learn that Swords Man is actually the heavy for the illegal drug cartel we learned of in the intro. That’s all well and good, but what about the space station or whatever it was? If we don’t get a pay off for that, I am going to feel so ripped off.
Upon seeing learning of the dastardly tactics on display, our dynamic duo decide there’s only one way to stop this guy, and that’s to challenge him at his own game, entering the tournament and coming up with the names “Hammer” and “Alley Cat”. And here I thought Swords Man was a dumb name. I should also bring up that this kinda sounds like a stupid plan to me, but I guess that’s why I just write about stupid movies instead of making them.
The next half hour or so is pretty much what you’d expect – Alley Cat making his way up the ranks in hopes of being able to battle Swordy. There’s a subplot with some truly atrocious acting where Cat’s family wants him to quit the police force and become a true family man, but of course he’s too much of a cop to do this. Eventually, the bad guys kill his wife and he seeks revenge. It’s the same old, same old, but it was kinda required or this movie have clocked in with a 27 minute run-time (which would have actually made it far better). It’s every one of these flicks you ever seen, and just about the only trope we don’t get here is the best friend (Hammer) getting pummelled by the bad guy prior to the finale.
Instead, he gets decapitated.
Gotta admit, wasn’t expecting Warrior to lop some dude’s head off then hold the severed skull on high in a moment of pride in his acting debut, but that’s exactly what we get here. Hard to believe he didn’t wind up with a whole slew of offers from Disney after this.
With his wife dead and his best friend…well, missing his head, Alley Cat goes looking for vengeance. He heads to the drug warehouse and wrecks havoc, and naturally runs head first into Swords Man. And for those fans that may have tuned into the Ultimate Warrior flick and been disappointed in the lack of pro wrestling moves, the movie finally decides to throw them a bone…
…as we get clotheslines and a GORILLA PRESS. You know, those moves you see all the time in a legitimate street fight. And to be honest, he probably should have stuck with the stuff he learned in the squared circle as instead he grabs his trusty sword, lunges at the Cat…
…and instead hits an electrical outlet, thus frying himself.
Oh, and Sword Man’s boss, who was running drug land and was thus by proxy the actual villain of the whole thing despite being the movie a grand total of two minutes? Well that guy immediately gets stabbed through the heart and falls through some glass that I am pretty sure was not actually in the room at all. But hey, it looks kinda cool. I mean, it would look much cooler if you could actually see it, but at least the thought was there. Clean the lens next time, you hacks.
And so yeah, that was kinda it. That was Firepower.
In many ways, it was a LOT like No Holds Barred, but I dare say, that movie was somehow better than this one if you can even imagine such a thing. I mean, we did get Kurt Fuller being completely over the top as Mr. Brell. He was great. Here we got that really cool car wreck. I’d say that’s probably about a wash.
I guess if you really need to pick a winner between the two it comes down to this: are you a bigger fan of guys pooping their pants or decapitations?
The fact that I just wrote that sentence tells you everything you need to know about these two films.