8. The Warrior and The Blind Swordsman (Worod Suma, 1983, Indonesia)
Screenplay by Darto Joned
A blind warrior sets out to battle a local freedom fighter and ends up aiding him in his stand against Dutch soldiers.
As one of the film’s alternate titles The Warrior II makes clear, this film is the second in the Warrior series starring Barry Prima.
This entry could be considered the For A Few Dollars More of the Warrior series in that it teams the series protagonist with a very worthy ally and is a better film than the first in its series.
Like all the best Indonesian genre films of this period, The Warrior and The Blind Swordsman sets out to make the most of its limited budget, in this case with truly wild action scenes including an amazing fight early in the film that’s capped off by a spectacular and unexpected decapitation.
Barry Prima went on to star as Jaka Sembung in several more Warrior films and his co-star Advent Bangun reprised his blind warrior character Si Buta but, like Monco and Colonel Mortimer in For A Few Dollars More, the two lead characters from The Warrior and The Blind Swordsman would never meet again onscreen despite making a very impressive team in a successful film.
9. Cobra Thunderbolt (Tanong Srichua, 1984, Thailand)
Screenplay by Srichua
Terrorists kidnap a wheelchair-bound war veteran’s wife with hopes of securing the man’s state-of-the-art assault vehicle known as The Cobra Thunderbolt.
This film is Thailand’s more violent answer to John Badham’s hit 1983 film Blue Thunder.
The film kicks into high gear when the designer of The Cobra Thunderbolt recruits a fellow war veteran and his daughter into his quest for justice resulting in some great moments including one of the film’s heroes eliminating a group of attackers with a machete and a climactic assault featuring the striking imagery of The Cobra Thunderbolt accompanied by a flying partner with a jet pack.
10. Final Score (Arizal, 1986, Indonesia)
Screenplay by Deddy Armand
A Vietnam War veteran living in Indonesia embarks on a destructive campaign of revenge against the criminals that murdered his wife and son.
This film has a growing cult reputation based on its go-for-broke analog-era action scenes that are capped off by a motorcycle vs. helicopter sequence during Final Score’s climax.
Lead actor Christopher Mitchum, son of Hollywood legend Robert, was no stranger to overseas action films. Among others, he starred in Cesar & Jun Gallardo’s Master Samurai (1974) and Bobby A. Suarez’s American Commandos (1986) in The Philippines.
Mitchum re-teamed with Final Score director Arizal in Indonesia for American Hunter (1988) which, despite being a big disappointment in comparison to their first film together, features a scene depicting the greatest defense to being shot in the back ever put on screen.
11. Deadly Prey (David A. Prior, 1987, USA)
Screenplay by Prior
A squad of mercenaries kidnaps a man and uses him as human prey in their training exercises, unaware their quarry is a highly skilled combat veteran.
Director David A. Prior made a number of films starring his brother Ted, Deadly Prey being the most talked about.
Rambosploitation films were big on the international scene at the time in the wake of the tremendous success of George P. Cosmatos’ Rambo (1985), the sequel to Ted Kotcheff’s great First Blood (1982). Examples include Robert Boris’ Steele Justice (1987), Bruno Mattei’s Strike Commando (1987) and, of course, Deadly Prey.
Goofy and very enjoyable, the majority of the film features Ted Prior’s character taking out his attackers in the woods all while wearing a pair of very non-tactical cut-off jean shorts.
In one of the highlights of Deadly Prey, a severed arm is put to use as a weapon. The Prior brothers went on to make The Final Sanction, which is featured later in this article.
12. Eastern Condors (Sammo Hung, 1987, Hong Kong)
Screenplay by Barry Wong
A group of commandos attempts to destroy a missile storage facility in Vietnam.
This very underrated film stars action legend Sammo Hung and was penned by underappreciated screenwriter Barry Wong.
Wong’s other screenplay credits include such Hong Kong genre classics as Ricky Lau’s Mr. Vampire (1985) and John Woo’s Hard-Boiled (1992).
There are impressive action scenes and stunt work throughout the film which has echoes of other well-known “men on a mission” pictures like Robert Aldrich’s The Dirty Dozen (1967).
Eastern Condors doesn’t come up very often in conversations about the mid-1980s/early-1990s new wave of Hong Kong genre cinema but it certainly should as it is not only an overlooked gem but is also Sammo Hung’s masterpiece as both a director and a physical performer.
13. The Final Sanction (David A. Prior, 1990, USA)
Screenplay by Prior
Instead of engaging in nuclear war, Russia and America pit their best individual soldiers against one another in an isolated patch of wilderness.
A film seemingly inspired by the classic 1966 Star Trek episode “Arena”, The Final Sanction stars Ted Prior and Robert Z’Dar of Maniac Cop cult fame as the dueling soldiers.
The film also features the always welcome presence of legendary character actor and real-life Russian language expert William Smith as a military commander.
The Prior brothers’ previous collaboration Deadly Prey (1987) may have a larger cult reputation but The Final Sanction is a better film and features some excellent moments including a very well-executed mental conditioning scene early in the film and a unique shovel attack that helps the movie overcome its silly final scene.
14. The Perfect Weapon (Mark DiSalle, 1991, USA)
Screenplay by David C. Wilson
A master of kenpo karate takes on local gangsters trying to avenge the death of his mentor.
Does the screenplay for The Perfect Weapon rise above its standard revenge premise? Not even close. This movie is all about the fight scenes, pure and simple.
The Perfect Weapon star Jeff Speakman won’t win any acting awards but his on-screen combat skills are immensely entertaining and he deserves credit for bringing the fresh flavor of American kenpo and its rapid-fire striking to the screen.
The film was only a moderate success at the box office but Speakman went on to star in a number of films, the most enjoyable of which is Albert Magnoli’s Street Knight (1993).
15. Stone Cold (Craig R. Baxley, 1991, USA)
Screenplay by Walter Doniger
An undercover cop infiltrates a deadly biker gang.
Looking for a perfect film to pair with Rowdy Herrington’s Road House (1989) for a raucous Saturday night double feature? You found it with Stone Cold.
Outspoken and controversial ex-football player Brian Bosworth does a better acting job than you might expect as the undercover cop but it’s the great Lance Henriksen who steals the show with a superb performance as the leader of the outlaws and creates one of the best villains of 1990s cinema.
The action-packed climax of Stone Cold that takes place inside and outside a courthouse is a classic, featuring some truly amazing stunt work.
Bosworth starred in a number of films after his screen debut in Stone Cold, the best of which is Kurt Wimmer’s One Man’s Justice (aka One Tough Bastard, 1996).
Author Bio: Terek Puckett is an actor, screenwriter and film writer based in Los Angeles. He is a graduate of Wright State University in Ohio and his areas of film expertise include horror cinema and neo-film noir. More of his film writing can be seen here: http://www.soundonsight.org/author/terek-puckett/.