Review: Hawk’s Vengeance (1996)

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Starring Gary Daniels, Jayne Heitmeyer, Cass Magda, George Chiang, Charles Biddle Jr, Vlasta Vrana

Fight Choreography by Gary Daniels and Cass Magda

Directed by Mark Voizard

If you read this site, then I’ll assume you love martial arts films, probably in just about any form you find it. Gary Daniels is among the biggest and best of the “B-movie” action stars, and this film, with not so great acting and some hammy dialogue, is as fun a film as you’ll find, despite its warts, which are actually legion.

In the film Gary plays Hawk, an English soldier who finds out that his brother has been murdered in New York, and travels there to find out who and why, and as the title says, get his vengeance. Things get complicated when he crosses path with a cop (Heitmeyer) and finds himself dealing with both Chinese gangs, skinheads, and an enigmatic villain named Garr, who happens to love de-balling his own sparring partners. Together with a local gangbanger, Hawk eludes two nutty assassins, Duquesne (Vrana) and his younger partner Blade (Biddle) and uncovers Garr’s plans before finally facing Garr in a fight to the finish…

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This is a really silly film, and what’s more everyone knows it. That’s part of the fun of this film. Gary Daniels is okay as Hawk, and aside from a funny disguise as a fire inspector isn’t given much to do character-wise until its time to fight. The direction is bland, even for a low-budget film like this, and Jayne Heitmeyer is great eye candy even though I never bought for a second that she was a cop. Cass Magda was laughably bad as Garr, either overplaying or underplaying his character at every moment. The film does contain a masterstroke however: Duquesne and Blade. Of all the characters in the film, these two bumbling assassins get more character development than even the hero of the film! The way the older Duquesne and the younger Blade spar verbally is terrific, but it’s the verbal spats after Blade uses his penchant for knives and wounds Duquesne each time they fight Hawk made me laugh whenever they were on screen and sad when they weren’t, and sadder still after they finally leave the film, in a way that’s most fitting for them both. A prequel with those two would’ve been fun.

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The fights in the film range from okay to good…for an American film. The final fight is pretty good as Cass Magda is a former student of Dan Inosanto, but I wish, especially in some of the Cass Magda sparring scenes, that they approached it with more…intent. Their movements seemed intent on making sure no one was ever even close to getting hurt. And let’s not even talk about the group fight in the operating room, which looked hilarious outside of Gary Daniels, but the director seemed to know this, and made sure Gary gave his opponent a bloody death, and I laughed as Gary basically got away with murdering several people, blowing up a building, kidnapping, and as it is the way with all 90’s heroes, basically gets offered a job as a cop.

I really miss the 90’s.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 6

A fun Gary Daniel’s B-movie from the 90’s that has one of the best assassin duos to come along in quite a while!