When her brother is killed via nefarious methods in a kickboxing match, Feng (Moon Lee) looks to get revenge and save her brother’s training hall by engaging in a series of underground fights. As she takes on the gang behind her brother’s death, she eventually comes face to face with the formidable husband and wife pair (Jimmy Lee and Yukari Oshima) behind the illegal fights and fixed matches.
With a paper-thin plot and some very talented on-screen fighters, director William Su knows where the film’s strengths lie. Typical of many productions from this period, sets are generic and reused and overacting is very common. Acting is, as expected, pretty mediocre, but there are some good bits of comedy, both intentional and otherwise, that make the non-fighting scenes still pretty entertaining. Moon Lee is terrific here and truly commands the screen with her presence, despite the lack quality filmmaking. She certainly stands out as a favorite of mine and what her films lack in polish, they more than make up for in energy and that HK fun that the industry seems to have forgotten in recent years.
The action is pretty stellar here and there is a exhaustive sequence between Ken Lo and Billy Chow that showcases both fighters’ not inconsiderable prowess. Extremely long cuts and natural exchanges highlight this fight and it’s a rare and great occasion to see these frequent heavies get to cross gloves. While Moon Lee doesn’t get to show off her moves until a third of the way through the film, she keeps the focus from there on with stellar fights including an alley sequence, the well-known restaurant fight, and one of the better fights she has with frequent opponent Oshima. The fights are hard-hitting and really show off the explosive energy that makes this era of HK action filmmaking so beloved.
From one of my favorite sub genres of martial arts film, Kickboxer’s Tears suffers from the typical faults that afflict other films from this time; short production time, low budget, and a nonexistent script. Disregarding these faults and letting pure adrenaline filled action take over is the only way to watch these types of films and it remains a refreshing change of pace from the typical ‘legitimate’ cinema. Very entertaining and lots of fun, this is the type of film that made me fall in love with HK action cinema.
You may enjoy this film of you enjoyed: Madam City Hunter, Lethal Panther, and/or Fatal Termination