When The Hawk Strikes… He’s Lethal.
Starring: Gary Daniels, George Chiang, Cass Magda, Jayne Heitmeyer
Director: Marc F. Voizard
1996 | 96 Minutes | Rated R
“Now, I doubt if you were thinking of causing some trouble but I just want to assure you that if you do I will leave you crippled and toothless.” – Hawk
Like most other action fans worth their salt, I am a Gary Daniels fan through thick and thin. That means that I’ve watched him in some really awesome roles and some real crap. Hawk’s Vengeance would fall right in the middle-lower section of that pack for me but what surprised me while watching was that it happened to be a sequel to the Lorenzo Lamas Snake Eater series. Crazy!
Eric Kelly aka Hawk (Gary Daniels) attends the funeral for his police officer step brother, Soldier Kelly. When it looks like foul play was involved in Soldier’s death Hawk uses his British Marine training to get to the bottom of it. What he finds is Garr (Cass Magda), a mafia boss martial arts master and organ harvester is kidnapping Asian men and killing them for their organs. Garr uses hitmen and a local skinhead gang known as the Death Skulls to do his dirty work. Looks like Hawk will have his work cut out for him!
There are a few pot shots thrown at Soldier in the first few minutes of the movie. You’d have to have seen the previous Snake Eaters to fully “get” them but it only takes a couple minutes before we completely forget that this is indeed a Snake Eater sequel.
After that, it’s all Gary Daniels. Hawk is actually pretty similar to Soldier. He relies a little more on his martial arts than he does on the zany traps that Soldier loved so much. Oh, there’s still a few times where Hawk goes all MacGyver and turns a smoke alarm into something that spews poisonous fumes or makes a homemade bazooka. He wouldn’t be a Kelly if he couldn’t craft deadly weapons from useless junk. But this is Gary Daniels, after all, and he does martial arts, and he does them well.
The bad guy set up is actually pretty awesome if you break it down a little bit. The big bad is Cass Magda, a badass martial artist in his own right. Below him are two bumbling hitmen and below them are the skinheads (one of which has a Satan tattoo on his forehead) who are obviously complete morons. This set up allows Hawk have a multitude of guys to beat the crap out of.
Unfortunately, many a viewer will get lost in the first 30 minutes of the movie because it forgets why any of us are watching. ACTION!!! Once in a while we are treated to Garr beating up some of his goons with various training weapons, which is cool but knowing that it is training and that it is the bad guy doing the beatings makes it feel a little less worthwhile.
Once the director remembers that he has Gary Freaking Daniels on set he treats us to a pretty fun final act with a fair amount of violence. The final kill, though, is filmed in such a way that you would have to be sleeping to not see it coming. It’s still satisfying to see Garr get his comeuppance though.
There is a weird juxtaposition between the goofy dialogue and some pretty severe violence, what with the organ harvesting and all. Pretty much every Asian person calls Hawk “roundeye” which at first is a little funny but after a while you start to wonder if this is the pinnacle of this filmmaker’s humor. But then he hits you with a classic. “Don’t assume all Asians know kung fu. It just so happens I know a little kung fu.” If that doesn’t have you rolling on the floor with laughter you might just have matured past the age of 6 (and/or heard this joke once or twice).
Hawk’s Vengeance is just good enough to keep this action junkie watching for the 96 minutes it was on my screen. It’s worth a couple chuckles early on before it finally gets to some pretty decent lower budget action in the last 30 minutes. However, I would probably withhold my recommendation to serious Daniels fans only. Most non-action-fanatix will drop out before they ever make it to the good parts.