My disappointment at discovering a film called BLASTFIGHTER was not Italian post-apocalypse science fiction was quickly dispelled after the film’s first conversation, which is about an amazing new shotgun that fires bullets, rockets, darts, grenades…pretty much anything you can think of. Then when the banjo kid from DELIVERANCE pops up seven minutes in (not played by Martin Short), I knew what I was in for.
Nope, BLASTFIGHTER, released in the U.S. in 1985, isn't sci-fi, but is in fact a ripoff of FIRST BLOOD filmed by Italian director Lamberto Bava (DEMONS) in Clayton, Georgia and the Blue Ridge Mountains. BLASTFIGHTER may not be what I expected, but it’s still a typically crazy spaghetti actioner with weird dialogue and outrageous stunts.
Michael Sopkiw has been compared to James Dean—not because of his acting ability, but because he starred in four Italian action movies in quick succession and then vanished. One of them was BLASTFIGHTER, where he plays Tiger Sharp, a former Atlanta cop who spent eight years in the joint for killing his wife’s murderer. He returns to his mountain cabin, where he wants to be left alone, but drunken poachers who butcher wildlife for money keep messing with him. One of them is Wally (Stefano Mingardo), the younger brother of Tiger’s childhood friend Tom (George Eastman).
Eventually, Wally’s bloodlust escalates from killing deer to killing humans. That’s when Tiger pulls out his “blastfighter” and goes apeshit Rambo-style on every redneck in town. Many corpses and exploding cars ensue. Bava even introduces Tiger’s long-lost daughter Connie, though the casting of a twentysomething Valentina Forte against the thirty-year-old Sopkiw gives off confusing vibes. Sopkiw has a funny walk—real stiff-like, as if he were still uncomfortable being photographed—but he’s just fine as an action lead, throwing punches and leaping about like a real pro. BLASTFIGHTER delivers the goods.