Review: Best of the Best 3: No Turning Back (1995)


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Starring Phillip Rhee, Gina Gershon, Christopher McDonald, Mark Rolston

Fight Choreography by Simon Rhee

Directed by Phillip Rhee

The Best of the Best series is an odd bird. The first film starred bigger names (for a martial arts film shot at that time) like James Earl Jones, Eric Roberts, Sally Kirkland, and Chris Penn (not a big name, but we all know his bro…). It was a smaller film, and the main attraction was Phillip Rhee. After the mild success of that film many sequels were made, and this one finds Phillip Rhee stepping behind the camera….

The film begins in a small town of Liberty as the local pastor, Reverend Phelps, is beaten and kidnapped by a group of local skinheads, and is humiliated and eventually murdered. Not long after Tommy Lee (Rhee) returns to Liberty, which just so happens to be his hometown to visit his sister and her family, mega tight t-shirt and all.  His sister’s husband, Jack Banning, is the local sheriff of the town, and can’t find enough proof to put the skinheads away for the murder of the reverend as he can’t even find a body. The reverend’s son, Luther, is currently staying with his family, and so Tommy finds he must protect them all from the white supremacists, while also falling for the local school teacher Margo Preston (Gershon), and finding out the grand scheme the skinheads ultimately have for the land and a acquiring a mini-gun. All in a week’s work for Tommy Lee…

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In many respects the film is “ Tommy Lee beats the shit out of Racism!” and is heavy-handed in it depiction of racism. Or is it? I had moments where I rolled my eyes but other moments where the brutality of the racism (mostly at the beginning) were driven home.  The acting was…passable, but I thought some scenes lingered on far too long. Some extra time in the edit room would’ve solved this. Rhee was okay, although I don’t think he has a lot of screen presence or charisma. Gina Gershon, on the other hand, has charisma in spades, enough to cover carry every part of the film she appears in. The same goes for Christopher McDonald. Mark Rolston chews the screen as the leader of the skinheads like it’s a toffee stick. The cinematography is okay, but nothing dynamic. Just really basic, and not really enticing to look at (as it was for most B-level martial arts films of the time).

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I nearly laughed out loud at the end of the film as enough baby oil was slathered onto Rhee that I thought “ if he gets any closer to any of those flames he’s gonna get charbroiled.”

The fight scenes are done well, but there are no really standout fights, but is well done throughout the film, but are really too small. The final fight at the end is the worst, particularly because Tommy Lee beats down the main baddie, but has too much difficulty doing so compared to the skills he shows earlier in the film. The fights here don’t remotely compare to the fights of the previous films. I think Rhee was too busy trying to direct a “message movie” to deliver a fun martial arts film.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 5

Best of The Best 3 is a middling film that really doesn’t have enough vision or fights to be anything more than an ok friday night fight film. But hey, sometimes that’s good enough!

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