L.A. STREETFIGHTERS (1985)

L.A. Streetfighers

I finally had a chance to watch L.A. Streetfighters again & boy, she didn’t disappoint! The last time I viewed L.A. Streetfighters was from a crummy ‘previously viewed’ VHS copy that I bought from Tower Clearance on 4th & Lafayette by NYU in the early 1990’s. I remembered being inspired by this movie with its chock full of chop socky, sweep the leg, no mercy type of goodness! The cast of characters that resembled something of my skin complexion also added to the win win situation! The 2010 New York Asian film festival had jarred some forgotten memories of L.A. Streetfighters for me since they were screening this film in their arsenal of B rated weapons of mass destruction at the midnight showing in IFC. I didn’t get a chance to see this film on the big screen at the festival, but I did have it marked on my netflix queue! Seeing this film for the 3rd time almost 20 years later, I was curious to see what my reaction was when lightly armed with my new found sophisticated form of movie reviewing!(WTF!). The verdict was an enthusiastic double jump kick followed by a clothes line! The story was a bit wacky, & not focused. The dialogue was a bit choppy & disorienting which created instant cult status on the imperfect level of cinema! Did I say i liked this movie? L.A. Streetfighers is about 2 main characters, Young who is a Korean immigrant & Tony, who is a Korean-American. They both have run ins with local gangs & thugs in their high school led by the formidable, James Lew. The first thing you notice in the movie which made you chuckle was that boy, these high school students look mighty damn old with these mustaches, chiseled physiques, & goatee’s plastered onto their face! That made Dustin Nguyen who played “ioki” in 21 Jump Street look believable! Young & Tony squashed these gangbangers like they were some 2nd rate throwaway kimchi being rejected at bon chon. Jun Chung & Phillip Rhee(Young & Tony) displayed their fine art of Tae Kwan Do on the big screen like it’s meant to be used on the streets! The rest of the story centered on Young,Tony, & a few rag tag friends who earned instant street cred which led them to security gigs at parties & clubs! Show me the money, MOFO’s! Other dashes of MSG & salt added to the wound include Young’s drunk mother, Tony’s thirst for James Lews’ sister, Young’s quench for dirty money, & some brothers hanging out at the liquor store! All jokes,dialogues, & stories aside, L.A Streetfighers was surely entertaining! Maybe, I look at martial arts inspired films differently, but the fighting sequences in this movie were nearly off the meat rack which was good enough for some light grill marks on the bias! The ending of the movie was tragic,though. The display of tae kwan do by Phillip Rhee, Jun Chung, & the hybrid kung fu style displayed by James Lew were something to behold on the screen! You can tell the actors in this film were truly martial artists as opposed to actors trying to learn movements for the movie. The martial arts choreography in this film looked to be carefully crafted as to leave the traditional stances, unnecessary movements, & the formal look of traditional asian martial arts held to a bare minimum while adapting fight movements to cater to the streets. We witnessed feints,leg sweeps,boxing, & great execution with TKD kicks! Great!, more realistic martial arts eye candy for us! Some evidence of traditional weapons did peek through & showed up at the crime scene at the end with a vicious fight between Jun Chung & the samarai yielding his weapon of choice with Jun Chung’s Sai. Bill “Superfoot” Wallace plays his normal villain character along with his badass kickboxing self! All in all, L.A. Streetfighters is a low budget film with an attention deficit disorder type of story bounded by an all star studded cast of martial arts wizards delivering pre-Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Power Rangers action in a naked version of “Big Trouble in Little China” with KO-rean flare, don’t gimme that stare…you suckas! Show & prove, mofo’s!
If you like the 70’s,80’s street gang type of movies casted with A rated martial artists styled with asian fro’s & mullet hairdo’s then this my friend will win you a trip to that asian inspired buffet that you’ve always dreamed of! Enjoy!

–Mr. C

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