Friday, June 30, 2023

The Shadow (1994)

The Shadow began life as either a radio show or a comic book. Honestly I forget which, but he's synonymous with both mediums. He was a big deal, before eventually fading from public view. Such properties can sometimes find their way back with the right push, and a taste for a good ol' retro throwback, which would happen here in 1994...

Lamont Cranston is a wealthy playboy who always seems busy. Known only to few is his true identity. By night he dons a costume and fights crime, keeping the city safe from evildoers with his supernatural powers. Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows! His troubled past soon comes to haunt him with the arrival of Shiwan Khan, a Mongol warlord with plans of world domination. Lamont must find out what they are and put a stop to him if he is to save the world as we know it...

1994s The Shadow is a shockingly good time! I avoided it for ages partly because I barely remembered it even existed and no-one seemed to talk about it, but also because I just assumed it was a lame American bastardization of an old classic, which we saw a bit of in the 90s. But this assumption was dead wrong!

The Shadow is a superhero movie with a difference. It has all the hallmarks of the genre, with a masked crimefighter punching criminals, but it does a lot of unique things. Much of this is due to The Shadow himself. He has the power to 'cloud men's minds', making himself appear invisible and projecting his voice. He uses this to scare crooks shitless, with a diabolical cackle that feels more like a horror movie villain!

But it's The Shadow's origin here, which opens the film, that gives the film its most unique edge. Dapper gentleman Lamont Cranston used to be a drug kingpin and warlord in Tibet! The film cuts no bones about him being a full on villain. Menacing and ugly visage, penchant for violence, and trademark bad guy moments. This changes when he's kidnapped by the acolytes of the Tulku, a powerful Tibetan mystic who can see inside men's souls. He recognises the capacity for good inside Lamont's heart, and not only wants to bring it out, but mould him into a ceaseless hero, which will be his penance.

This is a bold choice, and I really commend it! My only issue is that I feel it might just go a bit far. If Lamont was an up-and-coming warlord who'd really only bonked a few people on the head and made a couple of drug deals that'd be one thing, but he's a ruthless killer who's said to control much of the drug trade in Asia! After seeing his actions in the prologue, and his unwillingness to be redeemed, you wonder how he changed. Maybe even the writers realised this would be hard to show convincingly, so we abruptly cut to 7 years later, where he has already become a force for good.

The film is a great mix of pulp American crime and Asian mysticism, with neither feeling abandoned or shortchanged. It almost feels like a light horror film in places too. All this combines to make an adaption that's everything superhero movies should be.

The story is a good one, simple enough but with enough detail to keep you entertained, and enough character depth to give the film some heart and conflict. We see enough of the hero's origin, while also leaving plenty to interpretation, or for a follow-up. The film was sadly never to get a sequel, but thankfully it tells a complete story. While we could have got many more adventures, there are no nagging loose ends, or worse, a cliffhanger!

One problem the film suffers from is we don't see enough of The Shadow. He first appears in that guise 7 minutes in, then it promptly disappears for another 40! Lamont is still in the film, of course, but it takes forever for him to suit up as The Shadow again. Thankfully it's a little more consistent afterwards.

There's good action throughout, and the climax is fun! Great location, some creative fights, and a final battle that emtertains. The supporting leads get enough to do as well, defusing Shiwan Khan's bomb (after first accelerating the time and sending it flying halfway across the building, like a couple of idiots). The ending has a funny twist for the villain, and is a perfect note to end on for the heroes.

Lamont is a charming yet distant guy. He sometimes has what feels like a boyish positivity, that may be a mask he wears. There's also an edge to him, and the film doesn't pull its punches. He's regretful of his past actions, and the darkness within him, and his heroic actions are like a cathartic release for it, for him to be the big scary monster again, only this time in service of good. His body count remains unchanged though! He's still pretty ruthless throughout/

Margo is a likeable gal. She starts out a bit dippy, but soon develops well, and is a spunky dame. Her psychic powers are utilised well, and provide a good connection between her and Lamont. They share good chemistry, and are nice as a couple.

The villain here is Shiwan Khan, Mongol warlord who picked up where Lamont had left off. He's imposing in stature and actions, while very personable to some. I absolutely pissed myself laughing when he claimed to be the last descendant of Genghis Khan! Are you kidding me? Biggest poonhound of Asia? Millions of Mongols are descended from him, and a chunk of all Asians!

Something I liked about his character is the respect he has for Lamont as a warlord, and he asks for him and only him to rule by his side. Often in movies the villain say things like this without meaning them, but here it comes across as a genuine offer. And likewise, the statement "You're just like me" actually means something here, and it feels like there's a danger Lamont could turn to his old ways. I mean, obviously we know the hero's not gonna turn evil, but still!

Helping hm are a gang of Mongol henchmen, who are oddly out-of-time, and also dress identically to Shiwan's warlord outfit, causing no end of confusion. I thought The Shadow absolutely trounced the main villain halfway through and threw him 50 stories out a window to an embarrassing defeat, before realising it was just a random goon.

Next is the supporting cast. One of the cooler things about the film is The Shadow's entourage. He has his headquarters, packed with snazzy pneumatic tubes, he's got a car (more inconspicuous than a 'Shadowmobile' though), and a vast network of contacts and agents. All of whom owe their lives (quite literally) to The Shadow after he saved them from danger, and they help in various ways.

This includes Dr. Roy Tam, rescued in the prologue. He's a good character, and nice representation showing off this kind of transitional Asian American. New enough to have slight accents, but Yankee enough to wear a suit and tie and listen to the baseball game while the wife makes damn fine apple pie!

Lamont's uncle is the police chief, and he has a few nice scenes. He knows Lamont disappeared from the face of the earth for almost a decade after the war, and respects his silence on the matter, but is concerned about him. Like how a man with no job can still always be late for everything.

Apparently The Shadow was a bit chaotic behind-the-scenes. Not so much the filming itself from what I understand, but the studio's demands during post-production? This lead to dissatisfaction with various people. I'm not sure exactly who did what, and what state the film was originally intended to be in, and how it differs to what we got. All I know is that you should ignore all of that, because the film holds up very well, and doesn't feel at all the victim of interference or clashing tones.

Upon its release, the film was a commercial failure, and received poor critical reviews. Looking back on what they said now, it feels like some of the negative pushback was a little naive. And they just wouldn't realise how bad things could get. I bet a lot of them would change their tune, and realise just how striking and memorable this could be.

The direction in The Shadow is by industry veteran Russell Mulcahy, who I really like (plus he's an Aussie!), yet I had no idea he made this! And here I thought I knew his whole filmography. He does a great job, and there's a neat use of shadow, which perfectly complements the title. There's a dream sequence that has his fingerprints all over it, complete with industrial pipeworks, and pyrotechnic effects.

The effects here are mixed, mostly on the positive side. For a start the sets are fantastic, as are the recreations of period New York! It has a great 1920s/30s feel, with a dash of retro-futurism thrown in. The costumes and practical effects all look very good. The digital effects are decent some of the time, but look a little cheesy in places, and almost bad in others. But they're used sparingly enough for this to not be a problem. One of the weirder effects is The Shadow's face! You don't notice it at first because we don't get a good enough look at it, but it somehow. And the climax actually shows why, with a morphing glamour. There are a few strange moments with his eyes too.

The score here is pretty good! It's a bit reminiscent of Tim Burton's Batman. There's enough superhero character to it, even if it's not the most breathtaking or memorable track out there.

The Shadow has a packed cast. Leading man Alec Baldwin is very good with all the different faces to his characters. John Lone (of Rush Hour 2 fame) is an effective villain. Penelope Ann Miller is a good co-star. Peter Boyle is a welcome sight as a cabbie sidekick. Ian McKellen is ok, but a little wasted. It's always a pleasure seeing Tim Curry, and he's mostly good here, even if his American accent is spotty, and he gets a bit too droolingly insane in the end. James Hong has a disappointingly small role. And Sab Shimono gets a very different role here, doing well. I'm used to seeing him as evil Japanese businessmen, or ruthless ancient warlords, but here he's an average all-American Asian!

The Shadow is an undiscovered gem, and one of the best comic book movies out there, as well as one of the most loyal, in my opinion! It's worth watching, and definitely deserves a cult following and reappraisal...

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Count Dracula's Great Love (1972)

A party is travelling through the Carpathian mountains when an accident leads them to the clinic of reclusive Dr. Wendell Marlowe. He invites them in, but one by one they disappear at the hands of vicious monsters, and have their minds stolen in favour of a new master. Soon there is only one girl left, who has been chosen as the betrothed of the terrible vampire Count Dracula...

Count Dracula's Great Love is a Spanish horror film coming to us from local genre icon Paul Naschy. That alone warrants a watch, but it's even more exciting seeing him as Dracula! This proves to be one of the more interesting portrayals of the time. Not an adaption, but building on from the book with its own interpretation.

The film has a great Gothic atmosphere, with old castles, flowing gowns, candles to light the dark halls, and stagecoaches to crash dramatically. The stage is set with a fun opening sequence, where a double murder segues into a credits sequence comprised of the 2nd victim's body falling down the stairs, replayed again and again. Talk about inventive!

The title and Latin origin might make one afraid this is a Twilight-esque vampire romance, full of sappiness instead of scares. But never fear, there's enough romance without it overtaking the horror.

The film's big theme is of love's power over destiny. Dracula seeks a virgin woman to fall in love with him on her own, and give her soul over willingly. This will make his power strong enough to dominate the entire world. But Dracula soon becomes the one in peril when his own growing feelings for this woman endangers his whole plan.

Great Love's connection with the book, and its explanation of how he survives, is that Dracula reincarnates with each generation, each new form worse than the last. This does kinda open up a plot hole with the book's date, but oh well. The movie has good lore and backstory, but does suffer a little from describing events that sound much better than what we're seeing.

The film is generally serious, but the dialogue can be a hoot!
The girls on their horny friend: "You'd do it with a broom as long as it wore pants."

Then there are moments where the cast talk about how nice things are, or not to worry: "I'm scared, something tells me we shouldn't stay long in this house."-"Don't be silly, you're just scared because of Imre's stories and the coachman's death.". Oh, is that all? Another line has them complain about having their nice day ruined just because two of their friends had the gall to go missing. And at one point one girl says "You know, I'm glad all this happened". Well that came out wrong. Would the dead coach driver agree with you?

There are some neat spooky and majestic lines too, like "Dracula shall always be horror and loneliness". Horror is par for the course, but things like loneliness or remorse are always interesting emotions to attach to demons

Dracula's Great Love has a brisk 80+ minute runtime, and despite only having the one location it never gets boring. After a laidback first act, with enough little events to set the mood, the movie takes an unexpected turn when main characters suddenly start dropping like flies!

The last act is when everyone else is dead and all pretense from Dracula is dropped. It's a bit of a random hodgepodge of scenes, including a sunlight execution for the last vampire servants, and a love scene in front of a mirror, 'showing' off Dracula's lack of reflection. The movie has a lot of 'show, don't tell' moments too, with Dracula telling us big things it would've been nicer to actually see.

Despite not being the strongest of people, Karen is smart and not a total pushover. It is funny seeing how Dracula, mighty prince of darkness, recoils from two sticks tied in a rag. I guess the movie shows how this woman doesn't need to be physically strong for the strength of her love to be enough to spell Dracula's end. While the film's backstory could eliminate much tension if we know he's gonna come back endlessly, it's possibly implied that if Dracula dies through love that really will be his final end.

Dracula's death comes very suddenly with little build-up, but is otherwise a decent moment. Though it's almost comical how the film keeps cutting back to the rising sun with each stage of decomposition.

The cast here is large yet small. There are four main women to get to know as well as one guy, and they all blend together a little. I kept forgetting there were more than 3! The most distinct is the horny Senta, while Marlene gets a romance with Imre before their 'deaths'. It's Karen who gets the lion's share of screentime, only after all her friends have died and we can finally tell which one she is.

The various girls in the movie become Dracula's servants in death, forming a cadre of sultry lesbian vampires. Despite their new master, they don't seem particularly obedient. Dracula kills both of his male vampire servants, since they aren't hot enough for him, and thus expendable. But even the ladies can get staked if they step out of line and try drinking the blood of his girlfriend.

Dracula's character is interesting to think about. Or perhaps inconsistent. In his guise of Dr. Wendell Marlowe he's a charming and friendly host, and feels sincere. But when he's Dracula, he's like a different person. It feels less like he's putting on a mere act with Marlowe, but more that he's genuinely letting his human side come to the forefront. All in the name of becoming more powerful, but feeling these new emotions may tip the balance, and leave his human side in control.

Because of this this is a Dracula film where we see surprisingly little of Dracula himself in a way, and when he does appear he's a very basic kind of evil. Kinda funny how he's simultaneously an emotional developed character, and a blank slate. But it is intentional and kinda works.

The cast here is a good one. Naschy gives an affable and suave performance, and is intense enough when playing Dracula's evil side. He doesn't do a perfect job in the role, but he's certainly no slouch either! The girls are all gorgeous, and wear their period clothing very well. The guy does fine too, as do the few supporting players, be they victims or vampires. One girl gets what must've been the easiest paycheck of her career, getting to just lie back in a coffin, eyes closed, for a couple of minutes.

The direction by Javier Aguirre is very good, capturing the sets, outdoors location, and even some neat weather, very well. There's some great imagery here and there too, with one of the best shots ending up on the nifty poster. Turning the castle into a clinic is a neat touch, but since it's not yet occupied it's kind of a missed opportunity.

The effects can be cheesy, but are good, from the violence, to the fangs, and especially the more monstrous male vampires. There are some good death scenes too, and the way steam appears to rise from the vampires' bodies as the sun hits them is achieved well!

The music meanwhile is suitable spooky and dramatic, with enough tinkling melodies and BOMSSS to accentuate the mood.

Count Dracula's Great Love is a neat slice of Spanish horror, and addition to the Dracula mythos. It may not explore its themes enough for the liking of some, but the fact that it even gives such ideas a go should make it worth watching. And besides that it's just a fun 70s horror film, so what's the problem?...

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

The Cloth Peddler-Arşın Mal Alan (1945)

Out of all the former holdings of the Russian empire/USSR, Azerbaijan seems to have had the strongest cinematic output. They were surprisingly self-sufficient, got to be produced in their own language and not Russian, and there's a steady stream of content, no matter the decade. I've discussed some before, such as the 50s musical O Olmasın, bu Olsun, and today I'll be looking at another, Arşın Mal Alan...

Asker is a wealthy man in search of the one thing he lacks-A woman to be with, to share his riches and home, and to marry. He disguises himself as a cloth peddler and starts scouting for girls on the streets of Azerbaijan with his servant. He soon encounters Gulchohre and falls head over heels. The feeling is mutual, but her grouchy father is against the union. He doesn't want his daughter marrying someone so lowly. How can these young lovers overcome these challenges?...

The Cloth Peddler (Arşın Mal Alan) is a simple but fairly charming musical. It's romantic, ridiculous, and completely unbelievable, and makes for a fun watch all round.

Given that they're both mid-century technicolour costume musicals, I was afraid it might blend in too much with O Olmasın, bu Olsun, but thankfully they are different enough. There are similarities in locations and costumes, but whereas that was larger scale and full of diverse city hustle, this is a bit pared back, and focuses more on general romance.

The story here really only has the one beat. Asker is a rich guy who really wants love, and settles almost immediately for the first girl he sees. Bit of a thin romance, really, and the two lovers don't have a lot of time together before instantly falling in love, but they make a nice enough pair.

The film has strong Coming to America vibes, also about a privileged rich guy going out into the world with his servant to find his one true love. It also has the same kind of conclusion, where riches win out for everybody. What a tough decision!

The characters are fairly basic. Asker is shown as amazingly perfect, and has a habit of serenading those around him all the time. Between this and his singleminded quest for love, his family/servants often look at him like he's a bit daffy. Gulchohre meanwhile is a nice enough girl, who makes it clear to her dad what does and doesn't want.

One issue I had was the characters here all look the same! Similar clothes, colours, hats, and facial hair, etc. You can generally keep a handle on it, but at times I was a bit lost.

The comedy here is pretty fluffy and light, and gets some laughs, both in dialogue and general shenanigans.

The climax is by far where The Cloth Peddler gets the most ridiculous. In any other movie the plucky underdog would find some way of proving his love for the girl to her disapproving father. Maybe he'd even save the day from roving baddies. Here though? Asker breaks into Gulchohre's home in the dead of night and kidnaps her! She wakes up in an unfamiliar place, and starts tying bedsheets together, fully intending to commit suicide! But at that moment Asker comes and swings the doors open. They cry out each-other's names, then dive for each-other's arms and kiss. How romantic!

How Asker doesn't get beaten to death I'll never know. Like, I know he wasn't really kidnapping her, he was just whisking her away to his palatial abode to show her the truth. But this really wasn't the way to do it! Couldn't he just say he'll take her somewhere and stick on a blindfold? Because the way he does it, she absolutely thinks she'd been kidnapped!

Now that it's known that Asker is actually rich, all opposition to their marriage fades, and her dad is happy to accept him as a son. Not much of a moral victory there! The rest of the film is devoted to their wedding. It's all a bit of a conflict-free climax, and could've used a bit more oomph, but is an alright note to end on.

As a musical, this is good. The songs here come hard and fast, but with enough breaks to give the performers and audience time to breath. They are nice enough even if the lyrical content may have eluded me. The singing itself is of note too. While O Olmasın was a regular musical, Cloth Peddler is sung with a more operatic style.

The cast do well in general too. Even if they do all blend together a bit, they get the job done.

This is a very good looking film. It does a great job capturing the look of turn of the century Azerbaijan, and has a nice variety of locations. The home gardens look right out of a Germanic fairytale, especially when a wandering deer joins the heroine, like she's a princess. The direction captures the imagery well, especially with the rhythm of the billowing costumes and dances.

The movie makes use of gorgeous sets, and nifty matte paintings. These are sometimes really obvious, but in a possibly intentional way, and it nice sense of stagelike unreality.

Despite the impression these screenshots give, The Cloth Peddler wasn't originally in colour. It may have been the intention, but factory costs due to the war made it impossible at the time. But recent colourisation efforts have left the film looking its perfect self. While I'm sure it works well in black-and-white too, it feels really fitting and authentic, and exactly like a colour film from that period.

Modern colourisations of old films can be a dicey. Oftentimes it's done against the wishes of creators or the public, only to be trendy. On the logic that black and white is terrible and old, and only colour can make things hip and new. And it often just looks plain awful! Like when it was done for Casablanca, that stripped away all the brilliant shadows and lighting, and made it look like a bad video game. In other cases though, like 1935s She, it was the creator's intention, fits really well, and was done by someone who really knew what they were doing.

The Cloth Peddler is a classic in Azeri cinema. The whole operetta is, in fact. Not only is it popular on the stage, it's received a plethora of adaptions before and after this. This may well be the best though, and makes for a great showcase of their musical culture, as well as cinema in general!...

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Blackbelt (1992)

Up-and-coming local singer Shanna is threatened when a serial killer begins targeting her, first with sinister letters, and who knows what next. She hires ex-cop and bodyguard Jack Dillon, who is determined to keep the starlet safe, even if he doesn't know what to make of her. But this case may prove too much, with vengeful mafia hitmen now on his trail, as well as a serial killer who's not only psychotic, but more than a physical match for Dillon's karate...

Based on its poster and name, Blackbelt seems pretty derivative of its star's earlier film Bloodfist. As it turns out, it's completely different, in ways both good and bad! The film plays out a bit like a low-rent version of The Bodyguard, while also doing enough of its own thing to stand out. It's a pretty entertaining watch.

Blackbelt has a good structure. We get effective intros to the hero and villain, and the story kicks into gear pretty quickly. We're given scuffles with hired thugs, brief encounters with the killer, as well as increasingly dangerous situations, before the last act takes everything up a notch.

I saw some summaries that made it out like the film's about the hero and the stalker up in an uneasy alliance as they're stuck on the streets the whole movie, fugitives from the gang trying to kill Shanna. Thankfully this is not the case. Hostile teamwork can be effective, but maybe not with a rapist and serial killer! At no point are the characters here on the run, although they do get a car chase and a few assorted fights. Sweet doesn't get a lot of screentime, but he as enough to build up a mystique.

Blackbelt is interesting in how dark it gets in some scenes! Not only is there a serial killer on the loose, with mutilated bodies and severed fingers on full display, but there's more, courtesy of some flashbacks. After a certain point it maybe goes a bit far into icky territory, but I was surprised at least to see a movie tackling topics like this! It almost feels sleazy. Whether films are sleazy isn't in what they do but how they do it. By the end I think this does a good job? And I'm impressed that it shows men can befall such things too, with the villain being a victim of female rape.

Jack is an alright lead. An ex-cop, karate teacher, and occasional bodyguard, who doesn't take injustice lying down, especially violence against women. Reluctantly agreeing to take this case, he doesn't know what to make of Shanna, and worries she's playing mind games.

Shanna is frosty and occasionally bitchy, with a surprisingly intense backstory (which she blurts out on a moment's notice), but has her nicer sides, and finds herself getting along with Jack as we go on.
despite this she hangs out with some pretty scummy characters, including a manager and sorta-boyfriend, who beats her up, and laughably tries justifying it in one scene, while Don has this glowering stonefaced look, like "Ohhh I'm gonna kill this asshole.".

Then he comes back again, despite every other villain in the film besides Sweet being dead or imprisoned, and only 16 minutes left. He hilariously tries to take on Don 'The Dragon' Wilson, losing immediately. After which Shanna has a negative reaction which realllly didn't endear me to her. It looks like she is playing games with Jack!

Don's old police partner is a pretty cliched guy, but fun. And Shanna's assistant is nicer than her, and I liked her!...Yeahhh, I was expecting her to die. But then the movie surprised me by killing off the partner! Yeah, I know, that's a cliche in it of itself, but it was a bummer. It doesn't effect affect Jack's character, outside of making him glower more. But then guess what. the assistant gets killed too! In fact, given Sweet's track record she was lucky if she was 'only' killed. Perhaps one sacrificial lamb character was enough. The others aren't even aware of her fate till near the end.

The supporting villain is a mafia head. Frankly Shanna kinda did do him dirty. Despite calling him the kind of scum she's tried to get away from all her life, she was more than happy for him to make her a nationwide star and pay for all her fancy clothes and house! He's still an asshole though, and pretty crazy in how he immediately resorts to murder to get back at his fleeing starlet.

And then there's Sweet, an imposing bruiser with a Vietnam history, martial arts training, and a wince-inducing backstory with a mother who loved him just a little too much! He's full-on crazy, and is such a casual danger to everyone else in the film that mafia thugs will just be chilling before some crime, and he'll just pop up and break all their necks!

The action in Blackbelt gets the job done, but there's a disappointing lack of martial arts, given the lead and the film's name. He's not even done up to look like a martial artist! Still, the gunfights entertain, and there's one scene involving a car that goes so far into ridiculous territory it felt straight out of The Gauntlet!

What follows is a gunfight in a cardboard box factory, with what look like a bunch of dads. It's funny, with the neverending bullets, Jack firing way too many rounds than necessary (I think the 5th shot killed them, mate!), some funny deaths, and a great fake-out from Don.

Jack then confronts mafia boss Eddie, who wouldn't you know it has found his own martial artist to back him up! Jack recognises him, and is basically like 'What the hell man, I thought you were cool'. Despite his poor choice of boss, the other fighter does show honour, and gets killed by Eddie before he can go too far. This whole scene the guy acts like a dope by doing everything openly, instead of just denying everything and lawyering up. But it's stupidity we can be grateful for! He gets a satisfying beatdown, and a fun one-liner from Don.

The final fight with Sweet is when martial arts really comes into play, with one expert pitted against another, who also happens to be a hulking giant. It's a tense, well-done fight, with some painful looking hits in there. The two naturally find an opportunity to pull their shirts off, but in a way that's not too ridiculous.

The fight choreography is fairly good, and has some cool moments. Some can feel a bit stiff and choreographed though. Not bad, but just that sense of watching planned movements. One thing's for sure though, the film does not live up to the hilariously overselling taglines on the poster! "The most action-packed, sexiest kickboxing movie ever made!", and "The greatest martial arts cast ever assembled!", courtesy of Paul Maslak, who may be slightly biased, considering he's an actor and fight coordinator/choreographer here.

The acting here is pretty good. Wilson is a fine lead, while Deirdre Imershein does well. Matthias Hues makes for a distinct villain, and steals the show! Nailing the character's physical side, as well as the intensity. There's also a pretty packed number of martial arts talent, albeit in small roles, and we even get a brief cameo from a grunged-up Timothy Baker from No Retreat, No Surrender!

The film is directed well, like an action-thriller with a slight horror vibe. The violence is all well done too, including a cheesy but gnarly finger chopping. Although it loses points since Sweet's finger is clearly visible during the fight scene after.

And lastly, the music here is pretty good, with Shanna getting some ok pop songs. The important one fits well as a normal song, and with the creepy vibe when it echoes in the past, on scratchy old recordings.

Overall, Blackbelt is pretty decent. Not really for the squeamish, and it's not the best of Wilson's films for me, but it's also not the worst either! It passes the time easily, and there's enough action to satisfy...