Monday, April 30, 2012

STICKS OF DEATH (1986) film review

We have martial arts films that showcases a certain style. For instance we have, Above the Law with Steven Seagal doing Aikido, Only the Strong with Mark Dacascos doing Capoeira, The Perfect Weapon with Jeff Speakman doing Kenpo Karate, and of course Kickboxer with JCVD doing Muay Thai Kickboxing.
Well this 1984 film Sticks of Death shows the Filipino Martial Art of Arnis. The main character is played by a big muscular guy named Roland Dantes, I didn't know this when I saw this film, but after I made a video review, I got many comments about the actor, apparently he is some legendary actor over there in the Philippines. The impression I get is that he must be like a Fred Williamson.
The movie is outdated, the story is really not good, somehow the blending of trying to be an action flick, a biography, and a promotional item for the art of arnis does not work well here.
The good thing is that it seems to be shot on location in the philippines so you get to see how it was over there back in the day from poor and fancy areas to urban and beautiful country sides.
There is quite a bit of Arnis involved which is really the reason why I was watching this, so this was pretty cool.
From a low budget campy perspective we got some really cheezy fun here. The main character is a body builder with a killer mustache, suppose to be a drug dealer in the beginning of the film. In the city he gets jumped on the street and is shot, then he has a sort of rebirth in the countryside where he does some intensive one on one arnis training with his grandpa. This is the typical training scene you find in martial arts movies. Don't miss the weird chamber like contraption made of sticks.
After he completes the training, his grandpa hands him a special weapon that was suppose to be given to his deceased father. This is basically a spring activated steel collapsable baton with a small sai like guard on it. Very cool! This is like when Conan found the Atlantean sword, except the main character hardly uses it.
Then he joins the police and starts an arnis program where there is actually a segment that is nothing but demonstrations of the art by some random people. More promotions as he competes in an arnis tournament, warning the tournament segment is not filmed like your usual tournament in martial arts action flicks, this is more like a documentary from far away. Throughout the film we get to see single and double stick action, disarms, and of course the stick is treated as the most powerful weapon in the world in this film, it beats knives, guns, and even a car!!!
I can't say this film was good but it's a pretty unique B-movie because it focuses on arnis and because it is set in the Philippines.


theProtagonist said...

I saw this on cable TV not too long ago,I was interested since I've been practicing FMA for a while. The film is horrible but campy fun. I love the scene where he throws his expandable baton at the car, it goes through the windshield and either knocks out or kills the driver, classic!

Wampire said...

yeah that car VS expandable baton is something that has to be seen to be believed :)
thank you for commenting!