BLOODFIST director Terence H. Winkless returned to the martial arts genre in the direct-to-video RAGE AND HONOR, not to be confused with the earlier Sho Kosugi vehicle RAGE OF HONOR. This one, which was also written by Winkless (another of his screenwriting credits is THE HOWLING), teams kung fu fighters Richard Norton and Cynthia Rothrock, who made about a dozen movies together, including LADY DRAGON, GUARDIAN ANGEL, and two CHINA O’BRIEN movies.
Norton is Preston Michaels, a Melbourne cop with mad origami skills who’s visiting Los Angeles on a policeman-exchange program. Rothrock is Kris Fairfield, a schoolteacher who instructs cops in kung fu in her spare time. Together, they’re forced to solve a murder...if they don’t kill each other firsnahhh, they actually get along pretty well.
She’s the only person an Australian stranger in a strange land can turn to when he’s framed for the murder of a corrupt cop involved in a drug deal. The real killer is Rita Carrion, played in a delightfully demented performance by ALIEN NATION’s Terri Treas (who also worked with Winkless in THE NEST), the lady friend of druglord Conrad Drago.
If an action movie is only as good as its villains, RAGE AND HONOR is pretty darn good. Drago, played by Brian Thompson (COBRA) wearing a ridiculous blond mullet wig, is certainly colorful. His relationship with Rita is not only more complex than in most films of this type, but they seem to actually care about one another. Of course, Drago has plenty of karate experts in his employ, including an all-girl street gang who gang up on Kris and Michaels in an alley.
In addition to a good script with interesting supporting characters (though Norton’s and Rothrock’s are dry) and appropriate humor (Norton gets steamed when he’s accused of being Canadian), Winkless turns in a solid directing job, delivering a rapidly paced series of well-staged fights and action scenes. The camera is usually placed for maximum impact, and Winkless and his editors let each shot play out to give their talented leads plenty of room to show off their action skills.
Catherine Bach (THE DUKES OF HAZZARD) is offbeat casting as Norton’s concerned boss, and Alex Datcher (PASSENGER 57) is Hannah the Hun, part of Drago’s underground. Oddly, a photo of Master Bong Soo Han (KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE) plays Kris’ dead sensei. For some reason, the sequel turned Michaels and Kris into secret agents and sent them to Jakarta, where production company IRS Media’s money stretches a lot further.