Upon its release in May 2015, George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road” was heralded as an instant action movie classic, earning mountains of praise for crafting its two hours of daredevil stunt work and explosive action sequences into a seemingly non-stop car chase. I bring this up because, as relentless as “Fury Road” was in its need for speed, even it took one or two more moments to catch its breath than is the case for “Broken Path”. This home-invasion martial arts thriller will likely be the closest thing you’ll ever experience to a literal 90-minute, non-stop martial arts action frenzy!
Former Power Ranger, Johnny Yong Bosch takes the lead as Jack Ellis, who finds himself inexplicably forced to defend his family from a gang of murderous psychopaths returning from his past. Pamela Walworth portrays Jack’s wife, Lisa, while Lanie Taylor assumes the role of their young daughter, Maddy, and Motoko Nagino steps into the role of Jack’s vengeful former associate Sakura. Sonny Sison, Panuvat Anthony Nanakornpanom, and Tadahiro Nakamura play her sadistic fellow assassins, Jiro, Haru, and Yukio, while Dan Southworth rounds out the cast as Yoshio, another of Jack’s old associates whose loyalty is never entirely clear.
Jack Ellis lives an idyllic life on his Texas ranch with his loving wife Lisa and their young daughter Maddy. Things seem just about perfect for them until, without warning, Jack and Lisa are woken up one morning to find their home being invaded by a gang of bloodthirsty assassins.
Much to Lisa’s surprise, Jack not only seems to know who each of them are, but he quickly emerges as every bit the fighting machine their attackers are. Jack is soon forced to come clean with Lisa, and reveal that he grew up in Japan under the name ‘Hiroki’, and was groomed to be an assassin from a young age, until he escaped his life of violence and fled to America. Their attackers are Jack’s fellow assassin’s, seeking revenge for their old friend’s desertion and with his wife and child’s life on the line, Jack is forced to fight off his old ‘family’ and stop them from destroying his new family and the life he’s created for himself.
Since 2008, “Broken Path” has seen a release (a term I use loosely) that could best be described as “sporadic”. Due primarily to a lot of legal mumbo jumbo, the film has only received a proper DVD release in South Africa, in the U.K., under the title of “Broken Fist” in the latter, while it eventually saw a release in the U.S. through Amazon Video on Demand and Google Play as well as foreign imports under the titles of “Broken Fist” and “Attack of the Yakuza”, and given the caliber of the film in question, that is nothing less than a tragedy.
“Broken Path” devotes its first fifteen minutes or so to displaying Jack’s tranquil life with Lisa and Maddy, and from then on is concerned with absolutely nothing but dazzling the viewer with one astonishing martial arts’ battle after another, with maybe five minutes of downtime total therein. Where one fight sequence ends and the next begins actually becomes a matter of some debate as well, since the basic structure of the film sees Jack throwdown with Sakura and co. for a bit before fleeing with Lisa to another area of their property only for the combat to start anew.
What’s more, the film doesn’t hold back in the least on the amount of pain it puts our heroes and villains alike through. For fans of Johnny’s “Power Rangers” days, imagine an R-rated version of a battle with the Putty Patrol and you’ll have a good idea of just how hardcore “Broken Path” strives to be. At one point, Jack literally resorts to flinging his own blood in the face of his opponent to momentarily gain the upper hand and he certainly has plenty of his own blood to work with. Indeed, by the time the finale rolls around, Jack is so soaking wet with his own sweat and blood that it’s a wonder his shirt hasn’t dissolved right off of his back.
Johnny Yong Bosch is out and out superb in every moment of “Broken Path”, and it must be reiterated that this is a film calling upon him to spend a solid eighty percent of the running time kicking, spinning, flipping, punching and twirling in a very nearly continuous smorgasbord of action. He certainly takes as good as he gives too especially from Sakura, and he soldiers on through everything from cheek-splitting punches to scalp-splitting baton strikes.
The consistently jaw-dropping action sequences blend together to such a degree that pinning any one as a standout would be a hard task, to put it mildly. However, those featuring Jack going one-on-one with Sakura are in the film’s upper-tier as much as for the emotional potency they evoke as to how viscerally mesmerizing it is watching the two combatants go toe-to-toe.
Much of Jack’s history with his attackers is revealed through Sakura sadistically goading him and threatening Lisa as the two square off, but you can see genuine sorrow in her eyes that she’s been tasked with killing someone she once saw as her brother, while Jack reciprocates her anguish even further as he pummels her in the face with everything he has to dish out. After pulling off one of the most gruesome neck-breaks ever put to film on his final enemy, Jack heads off to rescue Maddy in the film’s final one-on-one.
While the identity of Jack’s final enemy comes on the heels of a character twist that isn’t exactly the hardest thing in the world to see coming and, in the interest of cutting some slack for the film’s single biggest flaw, we’ll keep the said twist under wraps. Then again, you’ll hardly have reason to care as the film distills its preceding deluge of non-stop action into one climactic, glorious fight to the finish for Jack’s family and his freedom!
Rarely if ever, will you come across such off-the-chart, unrelenting, non-stop martial arts action insanity as you will in “Broken Path”, a home-invasion thriller that puts “The Raid” on a farm before “The Raid” even came to be. Even more so than in his time as a Power Ranger, Johnny Yong Bosch and his equally dexterous co-stars transmute the words “Look what I can do!” into ninety minutes of ceaseless butt-kicking, and run circles around action films with fifty times their budget. Few films earn the title of “non-stop action” as thoroughly and unequivocally as does “Broken Path”, and Holy smoke! does it pull that feat off in spades.
- Johnny Yong Bosch studied Shaolin kung fu in Garland, Texas under Master James Clark, who showed him a casting call for “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” after three of the original cast members, Austin St. John, Walter Jones, and Thuy Trang, had left the series. Johnny subsequently auditioned for and landed the role of Adam Park, the new Black Ranger. He would also reprise his role for the films: “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie” and “Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie”.
- Like Johnny Yong Bosch, Dan Southworth is among “Power Rangers” alumni, having portrayed the role of Eric Myers/The Quantum Ranger on “Power Rangers: Time Force”. Additionally, both are connected to the “Mortal Kombat” franchise. Johnny provided the voice of the character Kung Jin in the 2015 video game “Mortal Kombat X”, while Dan portrayed the blind swordsman Kenshi in the second season of “Mortal Kombat: Legacy”.
- Motoko Nagino is the wife of the film’s director, Koichi Sakamoto. She also appeared alongside Johnny in the film “Extreme Heist” aka “Wicked Game”, which Koichi also directed.
- Director Koichi Sakamoto is one of the founding members of “Alpha Stunts”, and the group has been utilized extensively on “Power Rangers” since its inception. Koichi and Alpha Stunts also lent their services to such films as “Extreme Heist”, “Guyver 2: Dark Hero”, and the 1997 cult martial-arts action-comedy “Drive” starring Mark Dacascos.
- Since “Power Rangers”, Johnny Yong Bosch has frequently worked as a voice actor for dozens of anime shows and films. He also plays in the alternative rock band, Eyeshine.
Film Rating: 9/10
- “Is this what you left us for?!” – Sakura (holding Lisa hostage).
- “Why is it I see pleasure lurking in your eyes as you fight? If you hated it so much, you wouldn’t have lasted this long.” – Sakura (to Jack).
- “You just assume that because you have nothing else to live for. But I do!” – Jack (in reply).
Seen “Broken Path”, what did you think about its action and fights? Let us know in the comments below, join in the conversation on Facebook, follow us on Twitter. Don’t forget, you can check out our previous movie reviews too!