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Max Havoc: Curse of the Dragon [Import]
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Max Havoc (Mickey Hardt) has forsaken his life as a former world kickboxing champion to redefine himself as a world class sports photographer. After being advised to take a simple assignment in Guam by his agent Joe (Diego Wallraff) he meets up with his old friend and former trainer Tahsi (Richard Roundtree) to shoot an ad campaign. After arriving in Guam Max meets two sisters Jane (Joanna Krupa) and Christy Goody (Tawny Sabian) after he rescues the younger sister from drowning. Max's simple assignment takes a dark turn as he learns that the rogue warriors the Black Dragons will stop at nothing to reclaim a sacred burial urn which was purchased by Jane from Tahsi. Only Max has strength and smarts to restore the Jade Dragon to its rightful owner.System Requirements:Running Time: 90 minutesFormat: DVD MOVIE Genre: ACTION/ADVENTURE/MARTIAL ARTS UPC: 798622342720 Manufacturer No: WLV3427
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The story: on assignment at a Guam vacation resort, kickboxer-turned-photographer Max Havoc (Mickey Hardt) finds himself caught up in the troubles of a beautiful museum curator (Joanna Krupa, Ripple Effect) who's unwittingly come into possession of a Yakuza heirloom - something the gangsters will go to any length to retrieve.
Martial artist Mickey Hardt is a choice pick for me: born in Switzerland, he had achieved a degree of international fame prior to this film by co-starring in Vampire Effect, and I wasn't (entirely) disappointed to see what he brings to a starring vehicle. The rest of the cast disappointed me, in one way or another: I wasn't surprised that Joanna Krupa can't act worth beans, but it's the presence of performers with a greater degree of recognition - David Carradine (Kill Bill), Richard Roundtree (Shaft trilogy), Johnny Nguyen (The Protector), and Asian enforcer extraordinaire Arnold Chon - who dragged down the film for me, mostly by how little they're given to do here. David Carradine in particular only has about three scenes throughout the film, even though his face and name are prominent on the DVD cover. Then again, it makes sense for the fact that half of the time, the movie doesn't even seem aware that it's supposed to be an action flick: way too much time is given over to expounding the relationship between the Hardt and Krupa characters.
When we finally do get some action scenes, however, it's generally good stuff. Like I said, Mickey Hardt didn't disappoint me, to the point that I hope he gets out of the German TV phase he's currently in and makes some more martial arts flicks. He doesn't hop around a lot like the current breed of martial arts stars but has some very nice grounded kicks, plus immaculate speed. His flashback kickboxing match in particular stands out, and is probably the height of choreography + presentation in the film. The rest of the encounters are kind of hit & miss: seven brawls of varying lengths feature the aforementioned Johnny Nguyen and Arnold Chon, plus wushu stuntwoman Li Jong and a bunch of Yakuza guys. The Nguyen and Jong matches with Hardt are respectively too short and too mucked about with slow motion and crazy camerawork. The Hardt/Chon showdown (this is the one Florentine directed) is good overall but the dark lighting hurts the presentation. Inconsistency is the major drawback here, and I hope the sequel fixes this.
Production-wise, the film is strong, but can't avoid the Pyun-ism of repeatedly replaying a flashback scene - we GET it, Albert! Nevertheless, the setting always make the movie bright and fun to look at, so it's not a chore to watch. It's not a particular joy, either, so it's stuck with merely an average rating. Check out Hardt's Hong Kong movie for an all-around better introduction to him, and Florentine fans can definitely do better. Devotees of Albert Pyun, however, should feel free to treat themselves to a contemporary picture of his that isn't a total disaster.