’90s B-Movie Martial Arts Action done right!
Jacklin is probably best known to old school martial arts die hards for playing the bad guy in films like Ring Of Fire II: Blood and Steel, opposite of Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson and Kickboxer 3: The Art of War – where he gets the climatic fight with Sasha Mitchell. You might also remember him as Gary Daniels’ brother in American Streetfighter.
Expert Weapon and the B-Movie Legends
For Expert Weapon, Jacklin is joined by a solid cast of b-movie legends. We have Sam J. Jones (Flash Gordon/’Fists of Iron/Lady Dragon 2), Mel Novak (Game of Death/An Eye For An Eye), Joe Estevez (younger brother of Martin Sheen) and blonde bombshell Judy Landers (Knight Rider/Armed & Dangerous/Remo Williams: The Prophecy). Behind the scenes we have Ron Hall (Bloodsport 2/Raw Target) serving as the fight choreographer. It’s too bad we didn’t get to see him on screen in this one as well as he is one of the truly underrated talents of the genre.
While the film’s bland score could have been changed, each of the familiar faces I just named really gave it their all, elevating this low budget affair, as did Jacklin, who you could tell was having a lot of fun with his character. He plays a small-time criminal who is on death row for killing a police officer. In an odd turn of events, he is then thrown into a secret government program that shapes him into a killing machine.
Expert Weapon Pairs Well with Drinking
Jones plays the ruthless leader of the group – if you played a drinking game and took a shot every time he says the word “maggot”, you would be dead by the end of the film. Novak serves as a karate master and teaches him to fight. Novak gets a pretty substantial role and is always fun to watch on screen. Landers plays an acting coach and Estevez plays an unhinged weapons specialist.
Together, they turn Jacklin into his code name ‘Expert Weapon’. He eventually saves a target and finds out that trying to leave the group could be his real death sentence. He goes up against the organization that made him into what he is.
Familiar, yet Ultimate, Fodder
Some might say that this sounds a lot like La Femme Nikita and they would be absolutely right.
Although I enjoyed the training scenes, the first part of the film was a bit all over the place. The second half definitely picked up and made up for it with several nice fight scenes where Jacklin gets to show off what a big martial arts star he could of and should have been.
I could have used a better fight with the underused Jones in it, but the confrontation he had with Estevez was entertaining, as he succumbs to death by screwdriver. Another martial arts expert David Loo (Fist of the North Star/Firepower/American Streetfighter) is brought in for a memorable, climatic bo staff fight. These days, it is interesting to note that Jacklin has dedicated his life to finding alternative ways of battling cancer and is doing great things with it.
Expert Weapon really shows what can be done with a low budget and is definitely recommended if you love going into the deep well that is the 90s martial arts genre!