This flick is a dog. A lowdown, dirty, mangy, half-starved, living under an old sheet of plywood out back in the alley dog. It’s a flick that was made for the souvenir table at the All-Valley Championships and the dollar DVD bins at the gas station. Selling five copies probably recouped the entire production budget. It’s also something of an in-house production for martial arts pros — a way to get their faces outside of the dojos and exhibitions, and maybe make a couple bucks doing it.
Directed by longtime b-movie stuntman and director Art Camacho, from a screenplay by Thomas Callicoat, Sci-Fighter stars Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson as former champion kickboxer Jack Tanaka. Wilson playing a former champion kickboxer in a shitty action flick is about as common as Stephen King writing a book where the protagonist is a writer from Maine. It’s what he knows, and what he’s good at.
Jack’s father, Dr. James Tanaka (Aki Aleong), is a computer programmer and game designer. He is assisted by Sally Kirk (b-movie ass-kicking legend Cynthia Rothrock) and Andrew Dean (b-television show ass-kicker Lorenzo Lamas). These two characters are relatively minor, but they have to be mentioned because they are part of the cavalcade of black belts featured in this movie.
The elder Tanaka and his team have created a virtual reality fight simulator. It’s a game that, out here in the real world, is still far more advanced than anything currently possible, much less when this film was released in 2004, but, hey, it’s a shitty movie. Have at it, Camacho and company.
When Jack’s son, Brad (Daneya Mayid, another black belt), is playing the game, a virus invades and traps Brad inside. Now, it’s up to Jack to go into the game, defeat all the martial arts baddies, and rescue his son.
The plot and script are total throwaways. The point is to get Wilson and Mayid into cool fights. And they do get into a bunch of fights, against the likes of Christine Rodriguez, Chris Cassmassa, twin threats Simon and James Kim, Rebekah Chaney, Gokor Chivichyan, Eric Lee, Maurice Smith, Brad Verret, and Michael Matsuda, who is a real-life expert in monkey kung fu. That has to be seen to be believed.
All of the names mentioned above have martial arts cred. I know this not because the names are familiar, but because the end credits include their CVs. It’s clear they all know each other, too. An in-house production? That’s not strong enough. This is a positively incestuous movie.
It also manages to fail at its core purpose, which are the fights. They aren’t that good. The choreography never crosses that elusive line where the stakes look real. It’s all just an exhibition.
Then there’s the CGI. It doesn’t dominate like in some shitty flicks, but it’s as bad as any viewer is likely to see, so worth noting. I’ve seen wedding videos from the ’80s that had better effects.
The sum total is a package of crap. Good look staying off your phone while watching it.
Sci-Fighter is cast into the nether regions of the Watchability Index, landing at #303. If one is into the most hopeless of shitty movies, this is a find. I say stay away.