Here’s the deal: I don’t need to remind you who Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson is. If I do, then stop reading right now, you film snob twerp (we don’t serve your kind here!). What I do need to remind you of is which one this is, because basically, every Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson movie is the same. I mean, literally. The script for Bloodfist VIII: Trained to Kill (or No Way Out on home video) was the same script of Bloodfist IV: Die Trying. I’m not making this up! Roger Corman told Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson to take the script for Bloodfist IV: Die Trying, go over to Ireland, and change a few names before rolling cameras. It’s very easy to meld them all together to be just one movie called Blood Ring of a Roundhouse Fist VIII: Duty Kills, but let me pick this one out of the haystack for you with two simple words: Matthias Hues!
Who is this man? I’m glad you asked, because not only is he the villain in Blackbelt, he’s the best 90s villain ever (I know, I know, I can feel your anger. Strike me down, if you must). He’s stronger than Dolph! He’s meaner than Drago! He even has better blonde hair than Godunov! Born in Germany, Hues eventually made his way into health clubs and fitness. After bulking up like a T2 Swazenneger toy, it wasn’t long before Hollywood called. Like others who continued reading because they understand and appreciate a un plan rapproché in their le film d’action, we are so grateful they did.
Released during the heyday at Corman’s studio (I refer to as Kickboxplotation), this film is solid. Corman’s routine was to take any person who won a medal for Kickboxing and make them the star of a 90s action adventure. For this, I am eternally grateful (as are you). Hues perfectly fit into this world, quickly adding films like Fist Fighter 2, Kickboxer 2: The Road Back, and TC 2000 to his resume. In these early 90’s Kickboxploitation films, Hues established his reliability for strong acting while whooping some ass and continues to this day (he has four films in post-production, two currently filming, and five in pre-production!). What makes his performance in Blackbelt so impactful is he cares. I’ve sat through overtly long films with the ‘Muscles from Brussels’ phoning it in from a flip phone, but I have yet to see a performance by Hues where 115% was not given!
Directed by Charles Phillip Moore (who went on to give us classics like Dance of Death and Angel of Destruction), this intense hour-and-twenty-five-minute film plays like a standard ‘Corman rip-off’ of The Bodyguard. Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson must protect an up-and-coming singer from a psycho-killer (♪♪ Qu’est-ce que c’est Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-far better♪♪), played to perfection by Hues. It’s not terrible, but again it molds into other Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson films like Ring of Fire II: Blood and Steel and Bloodfist VII: Manhunt, except for the Marnie-esqe plot where Hues dresses his victims up like his mother and cuts off their fingers (the number of people he kills is in the single digits!). It shouldn’t work, but when you cast a domineering actor like Hues, you end up with gold (much like his hair).
You can find Blackbelt on streaming services like Tubi and on standard definition DVD, but only on full screen. In this format, you might as well head to your local thrift shop, push aside the seventeen copies of the two VHS sets of Titanic, and find the former rental copy of Blackbelt which will most assuredly rip apart when Hues is roundhouse kicked into a trophy case.
Do yourself a favor: warm up a cheap can of Vienna sausages, put on your sweat-stained Gi (probably with a yellow belt, no doubt), and watch Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson attempt to defeat the Colossus of Kickboxploitation, Matthias Hues!