A film which finds that ultimate balance between goofy and bad-ass!
After Tony Leung created his first diamond-in-the-rough Superfights, he continued to work with Seasonal Films for another US-based production, this time with the added star power of Gary Daniels. If you walked into a video store in the 1990s with dozens of DTV actioners on the shelf, it would have been easy to miss Bloodmoon with its generic title and simple premise, but it slams all its peers into the ground big time!
UAMC Reviews ‘Bloodmoon’ (1997)
A mysterious masked man kills several martial arts masters at a blood moon. Retired profiler Ken O’Hara (Daniels) gets reactivated and reluctantly agrees to support detective Baker, who is working the case. When the investigation gets personal for O’Hara, both officers unleash their martial arts skills to put an end to the killing spree.
A serial killer that is a martial arts master and is out to get other martial artists is a pretty neat idea, and Bloodmoon must have inspired Donnie Yen’s Kung Fu Jungle two decades later that had exactly the same story hook. Just as in Superfights, there’s a lot going on plot-wise, we got the reconciliation of a failed marriage, a student-sensei relationship, classic 1990s hacker stuff and some completely irrelevant but hilarious scenes with the most choleric police chief in action movie history. And while Leung’s focus was clearly on the action sequences, Bloodmoon delivers perfect entertainment in between the fights with its cheesy dialogues, low-brow humor and oddball characters.
Gary Daniels Brings Some Serious Martial Arts
As so often in his films, Gary Daniels plays a cop with a serious martial arts hobby. This time he is joined by Chuck Jeffreys who is an impressive fighter himself. He also has some comedic talent, and to emphasize this, his character is a hobby magician who even pulls off tricks to entertain his fellow officers while investigating a murder scene. The late Darren Shalavi shines as flamboyant villain, a psycho killer with two deadly metal finger prostheses, who looks like the Phantom of the Opera. He is also a cyberspace enthusiast who enjoys a good hacker battle and likes to send emails with a creepy 3D art signature.
But let’s get to the true reason why you should watch Bloodmoon. It’s the fights, of course, and each one of them is a highlight of 1990s DTV martial arts action! In Superfights combat took place in open areas or at best inside of the ring, but for Bloodmoon, Leung staged most of the action sequences in confined spaces. This enabled a lot more interaction between the fighters and their surroundings, and gives us showdowns of a staggering intensity. People are literally bouncing off walls and perform other acrobatic feats, furniture and kitchenware are used creatively and violently, people are slammed through doors and windows, thrown off balconies, this list could go on for another couple of lines.
But, How Ultimate is it?
The choreography is fast and brutal, with some added slo-mo scenes to create this very special epic vibe. Gary Daniels gives the best martial arts performance of his life with tons of spinning and flying kicks, but the stunt work of everyone who took part in the action sequences is just fantastic. And Leung managed to capture all the insanity with a splendid cinematography using long, uninterrupted takes from all sorts of cool angles.
Bloodmoon is bad-ass and goofy at the same time, the perfect blend to create ultimate B-action magic! It’s definitely an upgrade to Superfights, and it would have been great to see Tony Leung putting out more films like it. But it seems the world was not ready for high-octane martial arts made in USA at the time, and he returned to Hong Kong. But we can all be grateful that he left us these two treasures of action madness!