Review: Heatseeker (1995)


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Starring Keith Cooke, Gary Daniels, Tina Cote, Tim Thomerson, Norbert Weisser

Fight Choreography by Burton Richardson

Directed by Albert Pyun

 

Simply the name of Albert Pyun brings back a flood of friday nights on Cinemax, where a schlocky b-movie that seemed to have Pyun’s name on it flood the television screens. Pyun is a king of barely  B-movie sci-fi films, his ambitions far exceeding his budgets, and the talents of his actors. He has fellow actors who have been in many of his films, like Tina Cote and the legendary Tim Thomerson. Pyun always seemed to have an obsession with cyborgs (JCVD’s Cyborg and the Nemesis series come to mind) and here he gets to scratch that itch, but does it make for an entertaining film?

Heatseeker takes place in a future Earth where corporations rule, biotechnology and human augmentation are now what drives the world. The biotech companies advertise themselves by having augmented cyborgs fight in martial arts tournaments. The Sianon Corporation headed by CEO Tung (Weisser) has just had their best fighter, Xao (Daniels) defeated in a tournament by 100 percent human Chance O’Brien (Cooke). Facing punishment from his shareholders, Tung upgrades Xao, and creates a tournament against which cyborgs representing their parent corporations can duel it out to see whose technology is the best. Tung wants Chance to enter into this as well, but Chance and his fiancee/manager Jo (Cote) refuse. Tung kidnaps Jo and holds her hostage with two goals: to get Chance to fight, and to also have her train Xao with Chance’s moves. Chance enters the tournament and fights his way to Jo, who may or may not have gone over to Xao’s side…

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Heatseeker is an ok film, but just barely. The sets are laughably low-budget, and the only way to tell if someone is a cyborg are by the few times where their technology pokes out, which only happens when they are kicked or punched, but mostly when they make laughably bad computer bleeps and bloops as they shut down. Characterization is keep to the level of an 80’s comic book, but Keith Cooke tries his best, and is passable as the hero. There isn’t much of Gary Daniels in this film, and Pyun inserts his gratuitous nude shots of a writhing Tina Cote (not that I’m complaining…) that doesn’t mean anything at to the story. The cinematography is bare bones with everything done with a soft focus and nothing memorable. Basically point and shoot with average lighting.

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The fight scenes are passable, but not great. The speed of the fighters is slow, and the main fight between Keith Cooke and Gary Daniels is disappointing. This should have been a battle royale on the level of a Hong Kong film, but alas, that was not to be. As someone who has seen both of them perform in better films, this wasted opportunity would have redeemed much of this movie. The film tries to be a cyborg recreation of Bloodsport with far worse martial arts scenes on a smaller budget.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 4

 

No truly great Keith Cooke/Gary Daniels matchup? This film is full of might-have-beens  moments that never were. No real filmmaking imagination went into this. Okay to watch, particularly if you’re drunk. I’m positive there’s a drinking game in it somewhere…

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