Force: Five (1981)

Rating: **
Review Date: 7/13/18
Director: Robert Clouse
Cast: Joe Lewis, Bong Soo Han, Sonny Barnes, Richard Norton, Benny Urquidez, Pam Huntington, Ron Hayden, Bob Schott

"Thank god for Black And Decker!"

This remake of "Hot Potato" (1976) is yet another misguided attempt by director Robert Clouse to revisit and recapture the glory of "Enter The Dragon" (1973). Reverend Rhee (Master Bong Soo Han) owns a private island where he is the head of a religious cult, but his real aim is to manufacture drugs, sell guns to terrorists, and steal money from his blindly devoted followers. He's also constantly surrounded by an army of expert martial artists (which should raise some suspicion about him) and he enjoys torturing and killing people who are disloyal. Mercenary Jim Martin (Joe Lewis) is hired to infiltrate the island and rescue a young girl who is about to sign over her trust fund, and he assembles a task force of five martial arts experts to help him. These include Lockjaw (Sonny Barnes), Ezekiel (Richard Norton), Ortega (Benny Urquidez), Willard (Ron Hayden), and Laurie (Pam Huntington). When their cover is blown, all hell breaks loose and Jim not only has to take on a murderous bull (since we all know that bulls are bloodthirsty predators), but also has to deal with Rhee's mystical ability to become invisible. It's all very strange and not very satisfying.

It's a terrible film that blatantly and unapologetically plagiarizes "Enter The Dragon." The fight choreography isn't particularly good, and the overly exaggerated sound effects are embarrassingly awful. It's a real shame that the fighting scenes are so poor, because there's definitely some top talent in the film. Richard Norton and Benny Urquidez clearly have the skills, but they're woefully underutilized and their brief moments of brilliance go by way too quickly. Additionally, Urquidez spends too much time trying to be acrobatic, and simply lacks the physical grace to convincingly pull it off. He's much better just sticking to ground-based close quarters brawling. Bong Soo Han is an excellent fighter with crazy hair, but he hardly sees any action apart from trading a few kicks with Lewis. He also sounds like a badly dubbed James Hong, which is unintentionally funny. I can't recommend it except to curiosity seekers.