With the arrival of the final installment of the No Retreat, No Surrender franchise (unless you count the unofficial rebranding of the 1990 kick fest The King Of Kickboxers, which also starred Loren Avedon – which I don’t) things got even more confusing with the movie’s timeline. You see, the first and second movie share no plot, characters or actors between them at all despite both being directed by Corey Yuen, but No Retreat, No Surrender 3 muddled things up even further by casting part 2’s star, the aforementioned Loren Avedon, as an entirely new character in an entirely new story with an entire new director but interestingly retained the same amusingly bad movie quality with a script that feels like it was printed entirely on CIA letterheaded paper and bound in a stars and stripes banner…
We are introduced to CIA agent Casey Alexander as he liberates a DC bank from a terrorist siege by bloodily slaughtering everyone within the swing radius of walking crutch that doubles as a projectile blade which I’m presuming is standard CIA issue. While no one brings up the fact that if Casey was already be a plant in the bank, the CIA must have had to have knowledge of the attack before it happened but still let it go on (I’m saying nothing…), everyone salutes the graphic culling of some terroist scum by our dashing hero, we then are introduced to his little brother Will, a martial arts teacher who teaches the art of full contact fighting by beating the living shit out of his students and then tells them to train harder (Good lesson plan there, Will). The two brothers simply don’t get on, mainly because Casey is a company man who flashes his cash and Will is vehemently distrustful of the CIA and everything it stands for but that doesn’t stop their father, an old CIA warhorse himself, trying to get them to reconcile at his 65th birthday celebration. Things start off bad when Will turns up wearing a jacket with the Soviet flag stitched all over it (kind of a faux par when surrounded by off duty government spooks) and get worse when Casey presents dear old dad with an around the world plane trip which he claims is from both of them.
After the inevitable argument, however, Papa Alexander gets one final birthday visit from Colombian terrorist Antoino Franconi, a man who platinum hair colour looks like someone switched out his shampoo for bleach and who murders the old man with a handy set of steel darts he keeps strapped to his chest in revenge for the death of his son.
The brothers Alexander are inconsolable – for about twenty minutes – and then head off on separate missions to claim vengence on the man that gave them an accelerated case of ophan-ing while using ways both on and off the books. Can these two feuding brothers finally reconcile their whiny shit before their actions get them both killed or can they finally get on the same page and fuck up as much shit as they can while suffering suprisingly little consequences…
So, even though at this point there’s been a shake up in the director’s chair, the basic quality of this third No Retreat, No Surrender entry is only marginally better than what’s come before.
The fights – only real reason to watch these things – are still highly proficient with the two leads (and a legion of what I’d suspect was highly under-insured stunt performers) pulling off legitimately gnarly fight scenes that move like lightning but have all the dramatic flair of watching a child bash two action figures together for ninety minutes. Still, Loren Avedon is still handy with the kicks and the punches and whatnot and this time he’s joined by former number one ranked full-contact fight champion Keith Vitali who plays his brother with all the thespian skills of a man who’s learnt to act watching nothing but commercials. Avedon is hardly Daniel Day Lewis, but he’s an acting heavyweight next to this guy and the early dramatic scene when they discover their father’s heavily tenderised corpse in his swimming pool is magnificently awful as the director obviously seems to think that the fact they’re shouting over each others lines is somehow making things more realistic – which led me to wonder, “why start here?”.
The whole screenplay seems written by a child who’s won first prize in a Write The Script For A CIA Recruiting Video competition that happily suggests that the Central Intelligence Agency should be allowed to do whatever it wants when ending world terrorism, including firing off uzis in a crowded bank and letting random people wander off and smugly put foreign dignitaries in grave danger just to pull off their goofy plan.
The whole thing is as about as realistic as an animated episode of G.I. Joe and about twice as adolescently patriotic – but it’s also admittedly a lot of stupid, trashy fun to point and laugh at despite some worrying attitudes against women. We’re first warned of this thanks to the Agency computer guy who happily let’s Casey look up classified info while he refers to his computer as a whore who must be dominated (doesn’t get out much, I’m assuming) which then gets worse during a scene where Casey and an old flame Maria are both captured and our hero convinces the thugs guarding them to rape her to provide a distraction for him to break free. I mean, he does and he saves her, but it’s not exactly in the nick of time if you get my meaning and it adds a tawdry streak to an already cheap film.
Still, kudos for giving the two leads differing political views – in a surprising original touch, Will laughs off an offer to join the CIA at the end – and for having the balls for trying to cram it’s ridiculous self into actual real world politics where the villain’s actual target is to take out *gasp* President George H.W. Bush with a rocket launcher.
A decent finale involving a fight to the death on some scaffolding – who’s height seems to vary from alter from shot to shot – and a large immunity to crap will help any viewer through the choppy waters of the (technically) final instalment of an impressively creaky franchise that may admittedly have given us Jean Claude Van Damme, but also gave us the “comic” sight of Will subduing his brother by wrapping him up in a curtain despite it barely being a week since their father was beaten to death…
Still, it’s best to move on I suppose – so I will.
No Repeat, No Offender.