Roddy Piper and Billy Blanks team up in Back in Action (1993).
It really doesn’t get better than this. Rowdy Roddy Piper teaming up with Billy ‘Tae Bo’ Blanks as the ultimate butt-kicking duo is just pure awesome juice. Chug it in as two action superstars literally just do badass fights with their shirts off for 90 minutes in Back in Action, a movie that is textbook example of what the Ultimate Action Movie Club is all about.
Slow Start, Awesome Finish
If you can make it through the terribly directed opening drug deal scene, you can rest assured that the rest of the movie is nothing but action bliss. However, for a scene that’s supposed to set the characters and provide some entertainment and tension, it fails pretty spectacularly. We meet the bad guys first, a group of coke-using mobsters who look about as tough as funeral home attendants. The showdown is sadly a pivotal part of the entire plot, but it looks like it had never even been rehearsed.
Luckily, Roddy Piper finally makes his appearance tough guy detective cop Frank Rossi and we get some action. Billy Blanks plays “Billy” and enters the scene for some reason to protect his sister who is somehow involved with the mobsters. It doesn’t really make any sense, but it sets in motion an ultimate case for Rossi to dive into which eventually teams him up with the great Billy “Billy” Blanks.
Piper and Blanks Team Up
Now this is crazy, but at first, Roddy and Billy are enemies! They even square off a couple of times, including a great bar room fight that features some very well choreographed fighting and action (watch it below). From there, Billy keeps protecting (then screaming at) his sister from thugs sent by a workout video company (or at least it looks like). Roddy yells at the police chief and sleeps with a reporter to get more of a scoop on the mobsters.
The Action is Really, Really Awesome
But none of the plot matters. Thankfully Back in Action consistently finds way for Roddy and Billy to meet up and either martial arts each other, or face punch mobsters, or eventually tag-team bad guys with semi-automatic weapons. Just about always Blanks has his shirt off. Roddy just takes his off to admire himself in the mirror when sleeping with the reporter. Together though, they systematically deliver butt kicking scene after butt kicking scene. It’s great.
There’s not really much more to say about the movie. It obviously was a B-movie cash grab based off of Blanks and Piper’s careers at their points in 1993. Piper was 5 years off of They Live and in the midst of a great 90s run of over-the-top actioners. While Blanks was having one of his most productive action movie years ever (Showdown and TC 2000 were both also released in 1993). I can’t find much on Back in Action’s production, but I’m sure it was a mess (it has 2 directors sharing credit, which is always a bad sign).
However, do not let any superficial information get in your way. Back in Action is an ultimate action classic. It has two beautiful action stars. It has explosions, high kicks and great fights. It’s funny, it has zingers that land and punches that hit harder. Would highly recommend for a weekend VHS viewing.
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