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The Dark Angel: Psycho Kickboxer (1998)

DVD Cover (Shock-O-Rama Cinema)
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Overall Rating 48%
Overall Rating
Ranked #12,412
...out of 19,063 movies
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5-Time World Kickboxing Champion Curtis Bush plays Alex Hunter, an up-and-coming kickboxer whose fiancÚ and father are brutally murdered by the city's cold-blooded and sadistic crime boss, and he himself tortured and left for dead. Discovered and nursed back to health by a wheelchair-bound Vietnam Vet who becomes his mentor, Alex is transformed into an avenging streetfighter - a one man vigilante and skull-cracking killing machine known as...The Dark Angel. Using controlled fury and a hunger for revenge to seek bloody retribution against low-life criminal scum, Alex's ultimate target is the untouchable crime boss. But a beautiful tabloid journalist who seeks to uncover the true identity of The Dark Angel is hot on the trail, yet that won't stop Alex from exacting his "eye for an eye". First, he must enter the Arena of Death and destroy one-by-one the most savage and deadly fighters imported from around the world by the crime boss. It WILL be the most thrilling, bone-cracking showdown ever! --IMDb
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Review by Chad
Added: August 07, 2008
Before I say word number one about the actual film at hand, I have to give the artists responsible for the DVD cover art some major credit: that, my friends, is how you design an eye-catching cover. I mean, just look at it - you've got a guy with a ripped chest wearing a ninja mask that does little to conceal his demonic eyes, and there he is kicking some poor soul's head clean off his shoulders in a spray of blood and gore. Would it be humanly possible to make this any more manly or badass? I think not, and after seeing the trailer for this one on numerous other releases over the last four or five months, I have to say that I was really looking forward to finally getting to pop this one into my player.

Our storyline centers around Alex Hunter (5-time world kickboxing champ Curtis Bush), a man who seemingly has everything going for him. He's the reigning champ in the world of kickboxing, he has just asked his girlfriend Julia (an uncredited actress) to marry him, his police officer father Alan (George James) is about to wrap up the biggest case of his career, and things couldn't be better for Alex if he had a lamp and three wishes. His good fortune comes to a screeching halt, however, when local crime boss Benjamin Hawthorne (Tom Story) and his hired goons kidnap Alex and his loved ones and take them to an abandoned warehouse. What do they want with him? Well, put two and two together: this particular crime boss is the same guy that Alan was attempting to put behind bars, and now, he wants to try to persuade this officer of the law to change his mind. His idea of persuasion is to shoot Alan in the face with a shotgun, have his thugs rape and murder Julia, and then shoot Alex and leave him for dead. A tragic tale indeed, but it seems as though Alex wasn't quite ready to die just yet.

Yes, it seems as though Alex has a guardian angel in the form of a disabled Vietnam vet named Joshua (Rod Suitor), a man who takes Alex under his wing and nurses him back to health. More importantly, he teaches Alex to control his rage and hatred in order to exact his revenge on those who have wronged him, but before he can do that, the man who will come to be known as The Dark Angel hones his street fighting skills by beating the living daylights out of the petty criminals and muggers of his city. There's only one potential roadblock in Alex's path: Hawthorne is desperate to find and kill him for hindering his criminal activities, and local reporter Cassie (Kim Reynolds) is trying to figure out who this masked hero is so that she can break the story on the nightly news. As if that wasn't bad enough, Hawthorne has brought in the world's best fighters, all of whom will take on The Dark Angel in a battle to the death should he be caught.

Much like Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, and the countless other men who have made the transition from martial arts to the world of film, Curtis Bush is not exactly the type of man that you'll be seeing in heartfelt dramas or comedies anytime soon. His acting abilities are limited to say the very least, but what he lacks in acting talent, he more than makes up for with the legitimacy that he brings to the table with his accomplishments in the world of kickboxing. Bush is a legit badass, and that is readily apparent while he's beating the hell out of the other characters in the film. Yes, it's obviously choreographed, but it always looks a hundred times better when the ass-kicker in question knows what he's doing instead of simply following the choreographer's instructions.

The storyline is heavily padded, but that's actually not as bad as you might expect. You see, the gist of the storyline is presented in the opening scenes of the film, and from there, we watch as Alex recovers and makes the transition into The Dark Angel. Then, for the next thirty minutes or so, it's just random fight scene after random fight scene, with the vast majority of these having no purpose other than to show Alex beating people up. Again, there are much worse ways to pad out a film and watching some mindless violence is always fun, but I found myself wishing that they'd just get on with things more than just a time or two.

Overall, it's not a perfect film and nor is it a particularly great one, but it is a fun release for those of you who enjoy campy martial arts flicks with more than the average amount of blood and gore. It's cheesy and the acting borders on laughable, but there's a certain charm about watching a kickboxer in a ninja outfit crack some skulls, stop to ask the innocent bystanders if they're alright, and then run off into the shadows to converse with his crippled, grouchy mentor. Oh, and exploding heads? That alone bumps the final score up a point, so I think that a 6.5/10 is in order.
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