Heatseeker (1995)

Villain plans.

They’re such a problem.

You get so carried away with your evil schemes that you just don’t notice that your overall plan just doesn’t make any sense.

Consider poor Tsui Tung.  He is so eager to show off just how good his company’s latest cybernetic implants are, so he kidnaps the world champion and forces him to fight in the usual big Martial Arts competition.  Because the only way they can show everyone they’re the best is to have the champ fight their cyborg fighter.

And, of course, he’s so totally powered up, he should easily beat anyone, cyborg or not.

So, naturally, now that we’ve coerced the hero into fighting, we’ll have to try to blackmail him into losing…

Against the fighter Tsui thinks is good enough to beat anyone you throw against him.

Right.

Of course, that’s the simple version  There are a lot more twists and turns thrown in that make it more complicated — but don’t really help it all make more sense.

Let’s face it, if this is how you do the whole evil genius thing, then your plans are going to get so twisted up they’ll start cancelling out your own schemes.

Now let’s get this straight: this is a kickboxing movie.  It’s also by Albert Pyun who made a lot of kickboxing movies, of which this may be the worst.  After all, Pyun’s work can be quite good at times (like Dollman) and he’s even been known to do some very unexpected films like Deceit, Invasion and The Interrogation of Cheryl Cooper.

But he sure loved kickboxers.

Like a lot of Martial Arts movies since Bruce Lee made Enter the Dragon, we’ve got a big Martial Arts contest as the background for the film, with various cyber-enhanced fighters facing off against each other.

Mind you, they all just look like regular fighters.

At least until they’re injured, revealing the metal bits underneath.

You’ve got to admit, though, that will save you a lot of money.

The hero is the one fully human fighter left in the sport — and the big Champion.  We all know it’s a ripoff of Matheson’s story “Steel,” but don’t expect Albert to admit it as he didn’t pay royalties.

The problem is that this all plays out like watching a kickboxing tournament on TV, except that we know all the fights were staged.  We don’t get to meet most of the other fighters, and only two of them, other than the hero, really get fleshed out at all.  Instead, a bunch of unknowns kill each other off with everything shot in the middle distance.

Just don’t expect the usual quick cuts and closeups we expect in a fight movie as that might make it all more dramatic and interesting.

Heatseeker was actually shot in the Philippines — probably because there was a kickboxing tourney there.  A large part of the story takes place in “New Manila,” but I have to wonder whether the Philippines really appreciated the advertising as the hero is robbed there and literally left naked.

Somehow I doubt if they put that on their billboards.

Add to all this general dullness a particularly sticky sort of romance, with the girl apparently doing all sorts of inexplicable things to save the hero.  Or is it because the bad guy has some sort of control chip in her neck?  It probably doesn’t matter one way or the other.

Oh, and that title?  Someone in the film calls the fighters “heatseekers,” but that’s never repeated — or explained.

The worst part is that I’m reasonably sure there are worse cyborg kickboxer movies out there.  After all, no matter how bad a film is, there always seems that there’s one even worse out there somewhere.

And I usually get stuck watching them…

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