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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Black Belt Angels
Black Belt Angels
Image // PG // March 30, 2004
List Price: $11.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by J. Doyle Wallis | posted May 8, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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I hate Jack Savage.

When Daniel-san took on the ranks of the Cobra Kai, I ate up every minute of it. I was a fledgling martial film nut and at the perfect age to appreciate it. Sure the Karate Kid is now horrendously dated, but for a former 80's preteen, it holds a place of nostalgia forever.

Black Belt Angels is a, no doubt Karate Kid inspired, low rent- reaallly low rent- female driven version of the kiddie kung fu film. The imdb and other sources date it as 1994, but based on the clothing (Bugle Boy shirt, jam pants), score, and overall look, I'd say it is a late 80's film. By comparison it makes Karate Kid look like The Last Emperor.

Anyway, the plot, if you can call it that, has Master Lee's (Bobby Kim) Tae Kwon Do school facing hard times. He and his main instructor, Matt Robinson (Jack Savage), are having problems meeting the rent and a shady land developer/mobster named Lucero wants to buy up all of the boardwalk businesses. Lucero uses his own thugs to threaten them, but Matt's daughters and two other spunky students beat up the bad guys, which leads Lucero to employ a mullet headed baddie and his gang of ninjas. Lame, barely worthy of Master Ninja, fights ensue. Evel Knievel rollerblading costumes are donned. A "Rock Til Yu Drop" charity benefit is held. And, various kidnapings and rescues happen until the tidy wrap-up mercilessly ends the film.

I hate you Jack Savage, because your real name is probably Murry Spunkle and you had the audacity to give yourself such a terrible action hero name.

Cheap is the word. While they are often sold short, you can sometimes get away with some cheapness and lesser quality scripting and acting in a kiddie film because kids are more forgiving and simple. Still, a bad movie is a bad movie. The fighting in the film is pretty mediocre, and while most of the people may be halfway- and I feel the need to really stress halfway- decent martial artists, there is zero skill in the action direction. There is a lot of fighting, but it all doesn't mean much when there isn't decent pacing, flow, and choice of angles.

I hate you Jack Savage, because of your aftershave commercial face, groomed armhair, capped teeth, and tanning bed skin.

There is a moment in Kill Bill Vol. 2 where the Bride's kid is asked what bedtime film she wants to watch and she says, "Shogun Assassin", which is the Americanized hack job of the first two wonderfully bloody and beautiful Lone Wolf and Cub films. Now, as a guy who owns an original, mint Shogun Assassin one-sheet, it almost brought a tear to my eye, because I've always known my kids, without a doubt, will find me force feeding them samurai and kung fu films when they are old enough. Having said that, I can also safely say my children will never ever see Black Belt Angels.

I hate you Jack Savage, especially because of your stunted line delivery, slow, posturing martial skills, and I bet before you tried to be an action star there's gotta' be some gay porn film buried in your past.

Well, they were trying to make a well-intentioned kiddie martial arts film and they were trying with limited means and a paltry budget. What they made still wasn't very good and it is so terribly dated and sloppily executed, todays kids will have little patience for it. The kitsch value is pretty low, and instead of being "so bad its good", it is just so bad its bad.

The DVD: A55Films

Picture: Full-screen. What do you get when you have a low budget film from a tape source that is transferred at only 2,936 MB? That's right folks. You get compression and artifacts. Its grainy, washed-out, and dull, but that almost doesn't matter because the entire affair is bathed in some pixellation. I doubt the original elements can look very good to begin with, but the transfer is such that this one is headed towards the discount bin.

Sound: Dolby 2 channel. There are quite a few points where the sound was either inadequate or not recorded at all so lots of over dubbing had to be done. So, the dialogue ranges from ill-recorded on set to ill-recorded post sound. The score is the kind of synth keyboard cheese that will make Yan Hammer wish he never inspired so composers to plunk out some chorus drenched melody.

Extras: Chapter Selections— Photo gallery— Three kung fu shorts. They are parody oriented, the most memorable involves a Sammo Hung lookalike doing a Sprite commercial; I'm guessing it was meant to be a parody of the Jackie Chan Mello Yellow ads.

Conclusion: I know good action heroes, and I know I hate Jack Savage. Besides that, this is a cheap forgettable film with a bargain bin transfer. I'll have to give it a "skip it' because I fail to see any audience for it.

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