Writer Keith W. Strandberg and producer See-Yuen Ng reunite for this latest instalment in the “No Retreat No Surrender” saga. Loren Avedon also returns in this stand-alone revenge fantasy actioner.
Keith Vitali is Casey Alexander, a skilled CIA operative at odds with his younger brother Will, played by Loren Avedon. Joseph Campanella plays the brothers’ father John Alexander, a retired CIA agent murdered by uber-terrorist Franco played by Rion Hunter. Wanda Acuna provides some love interest as Maria, and Mark Russo debuts as Franco’s deadly henchman.
Following their father’s brutal murder at the hands of terrorist leader Franco, two feuding brothers set out to avenge his death and stop Franco from carrying out his latest diabolical act.
The fight choreography is a heady mix of brutal violence and light hearted slapstick which sort of works well as a plot device to illustrate the contrasting differences in the brothers’ lifestyles. Vitali as CIA agent Casey kills and maims a group of terrorists robbing a bank in the film’s opening, whilst Will gives a lesson in how to deal with attackers in a simulated mugging for one of his classes.
John Alexander’s brutal murder introduces the equally fast but more powerful looking Russo, the film then takes on a lighter tone featuring Will sparring with his friends in Florida who then go on to help him stage a bar fight in the seedier part of town. Both these put Avedon at the centre where he showcases some very agile Taekwondo and almost acrobatic ability from his splits across a stairway to his powerful looking kicks. The more seasoned Vitali gets to show off the speed and energy of his Karate/Taekwondo mix seen in “Wheels on Meals” plus his legendary sidekicks for the car park fight. In case you’re wondering, yes the brothers do face off one another in a comical pretend assassination attempt.
The film’s finale does not disappoint with Vitali taking on Hunter, and after a brief meeting earlier where they matched each other’s kicks, Avedon and Russo get the opportunity for a rematch. The side by side final fights are packed with a variety of fast and furious manoeuvres with some bone crunching and realistic contact and each fight brings something different to the fold.
Once again Russo and Avedon match each other’s speed and agility virtually climbing to steep highs of martial arts kicking combat whereas Vitali and Hunter give the appearance of a more tactical face off with a variety of techniques in play as you would accept from more experienced fighters. Whereas Avedon and Russo up the wow factor with their respective Taekwondo skills, Rion Hunter, when not randomly replaced with a bewigged stand in, adds a variety of hard hitting technically sound Kung-fu techniques of which he is a proponent. The combined styles of these performers add a fairly distinct, refreshingly zany quality to this action-packed blood and spit soaked finale.
“Blood Brothers” is very different from the previous films in many respects and like those is a standalone feature in the saga rather than a sequel. Writer Keith Strandberg keeps the plot and proceedings simple allowing for some character insight namely the oil and water sibling tension between the brothers which Avedon and Vitali pull off adequately. Of all the three films this has the most sinister and enigmatic villain in Franco, and Rion Hunter is mesmerising in the role.
With an equal balance of thrills, spills and comedy some violent, gory martial arts fun, gunplay, and a couple of colourful torture sequences “Blood Brothers” is a satisfying debut for director Lucas Lo and a solid, entertaining action flick!
- During the film’s auditions Keith Vitali broke his arm. The ever present plaster cast was written into the script, explained as the result of an injury foiling a terrorist bank robbery.
- In the lead up to filming, Loren Avedon trained 4-6 hours a day for six months to prepare for the role. This accounts for his somewhat beefier physique.
- Mark Russo is highly skilled in various martial arts styles and holds the following accolades; 7th degree black belt in To Shin Do (modernised Ninjitsu system developed by Shidoshi Stephen Hayes), 4th degree black belt in Okinawan Shorin-Ryu Karate, 2nd degree black belt in Okinawan Kobojutsu, 1st degree black belt in Jhoon Rhee Taekwondo and a 1st degree in Kempo Jutsu.
- During his early days learning Karate, Keith Vitali was obsessed with the kicking aspects and worked hard to perfect his side kick. In an interview Vitali stated that by the time he’d earned his green belt he had cracked the ribs of 51 fighters with his then formidable side kick.