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Rewind...

No Retreat, No Surrender

AKA: Karate Tiger
 
 


In the film's training montage, you see Kurt McKinney, who plays Jason Stillwell, doing one arm fingertip pushups.

First off, Kurt didn't know how to do one arm pushups, so had to be shown the correct form. Then, he tried to do it for the camera and it just didn't have the impact. So, Yuen Kuai, the director, decided that it would be much more effective for the pushups to be faster and to be off two fingers.

When asked: "He can't even do one arm push ups fast enough, how's he going to do this?" Yuen Kuai just smiled and held up a piece of wire cable.

They affixed a wire to Kurt's back with a special harness and every time he goes up and down, there are really three Chinese stunt men off screen pulling on a wire that takes him up with ease, and keeps the pressure off his fingers! He looks great doing it, doesn't he?

The wire doesn't show because they hid it by having the trees in the background and what wire did show they spray painted white so it would blend in with the sky!



More Behind The Scenes from No Retreat, No Surrender
Luckily 'No Retreat, No Surrender' wasn't one of those Golum Globus Ninja movies whereby in the first 10 minutes some crusty English Agents acquire the Kung Fu expertise of a young master, in order to infiltrate the operation of a crippled Hong Kong based businesman in a white suit who is selling heroin. Nope, 'No Retreat, No Surrender' was much more 80's. It even had scenes of breakdancing!

Jason Stillwell (KURT MCKINNEY) is a Bruce Lee fan and keen karate student. His family is forced to flee their home after a local Protection Racket threatens the Dojo which Jason's father (TIMOTHY D. BAKER) owns. Next come some fight scenes proving the fact that Jason's father isn't very hard, his leg is broken by 'Ivan the Terrible: actor' (JEAN CLAUDE VAN-DAMME) and his wellbeing is disrupted.

Seattle seems as good a place as any and the family scoot. Jason can't settle in and soon finds that the local thugs arent too impressed with his wooden dummy and his sweat pants. He is ridiculed and beaten up trying to join the local karate centre and even the hip breakdancing scenes from neighbour R.J (J.W FAILS) can't sway his mood. Finally the last straw comes when Jason's father sacreligiously rips up a Bruce Lee poster!! Jason runs away from home and quite miraculously, the ghost of Bruce Lee appears to him and gets his fan-kicks in shape.

After some twenty minutes of love story vs. karate subplot meandering, Jason uses his newly acquired skills in a Seattle tournament to save everyone from the same martial artist who broke his poor Dad's leg. He is spurred into the ring when the vicious Van-Damme grabs his girlfriend Kelly..and pulls her hair!!

So it seems he either fights for his life or he'll be running for the rest of it. Jason neither retreats, nor surrenders and pulls off a spectacular final kick in the process.

Lovely.

Verdict?

In the wake of the success of films like "The Karate Kid", these Martial Arts 'against the odds' movies were very common.

This isn't a bad one, even if it has the fundamental flaws of a completely preposterous premise and a third act that actually goes nowhere at all. The supernatural element does work in its favour though and sets it apart from the other teenage Kung-Fu movies of the decade. As a result, I'll happily groove along to Paul Gilreath's music and watch a few cheddar moments.

Notable camembert must be the 'say the name of the movie when in a crisis' scenes. This happens twice during the film to my recollection and is actually a crime in some states. First time, as we see R.J and Jason cornered by thugs at the fast food joint and they stand back-to-back. Secondly. the final confrontation turnaround-moment where R.J just has to shout "Jase! No Retreat No Surrender!!"

My verdict:

-Kick ass, high-energy Kung Fu with more training montages than you can shake an underdeveloped script at.

[Ed. Note: The movie was successful enough to spawn 2 sequels. Anyone seen em?!!?]

Notice any mistakes? Review

Strengths: Good music. Ideosyncratic but enjoyable. Great kung-fu action.

Weaknesses? Poor production values. Kinda silly in places.

Our rating: 8.5 out of 10


Review Written by Simon Barber:  Contact  |  More Reviews by Simon Barber
No Retreat, No Surrender