Ladies and Gents..Rob Sibley
I will say this The â€œBest of the Bestâ€ franchise gets ZERO respect in the action film community. Which is a crying shame because it’s above average with it’s casts, acting and superior action. The series is much better then the Kickboxer series which started to suck hard after the first. This series is even better then the Bloodsport series. Those two franchises had one shining star, that was Van Damme. Once he left, those series went down quicker then a 2 dollar whore.
Quick history lesson since I’m assuming people won’t be familiar with the BOTB series. The first film starred Eric Roberts, Chris Penn, James Earl Jones and martial arts master Philip Rhee. It could have been a Rocky rip off but replacing boxing with Tae Kwon Do was a winning recipe.
Not many people seem to know that Eric Roberts has a black belt in martial arts and despite his age could still likely kick my ass and yours combined.
Even better was Best of the Best 2 which saw the return of Eric Roberts, Philip Rhee, Chris Penn, Meg Foster and even massive man Ralf Moeller as the films central villain. BOTB 2 is important for a reason, it was a precursor to MMA & UFC. There is no doubt in my mind that Dana White wasn’t inspired to create the UFC after seeing this film. Hell even the legendary Randy Couture acknowledged â€œBest of the Best 2â€ as his all time favorite movie! So it’s a very important and neglected action franchise.
The third film in the series which I am reviewing â€œBest of the Best 3: No Turning Backâ€ was a change of pace. No longer were there martial arts tournaments and sadly Eric Roberts didn’t return. But this didn’t stop Philip Rhee who would direct and star in this film and pull triple duties directing, writing and starring in Best of the Best 4.
The film at hand though is a blast of mid 90’s action. They just don’t make films like this anymore. Films where there were no shades of grey. Everything was very black and white, you had your good guys and you had your bad guys. The good guys would take the bad guys down in various fun to watch ways. Roll ending credits. It was a simpler time when the plots didn’t need a thousand twists and turns to entertain.
The picture starts out in the country side, a black reverend is setting up his church for the day. Within minutes he has a sack pulled over his head and his church is fire bombed by some hick white supremacist assholes. From there we cut to one of the punks lounging out on his couch watching some evangelical fellow chat away about his racist views. The dude on the TV is played by none other then the great R. Lee â€œDo you suck dick Private?â€ Ermey. The Mom of the skin head is also played by Dee Wallace! Which was a pleasant surprise. Even more horror actors are on show as Kane Hodder pops up to be taken down quickly. Kane was one of the stunt men on the project, go figure.
Things begin to get worse as the towns white supremacist’s begin to take over and cause various forms of havoc. This causes school teacher Margo Preston (Gina Gershon) to call in for some help from Tommy Lee (Philip Rhee). Who’s currently in town visiting his family.
I need to point something out, don’t ya wish that all school teachers looked like Gina Gershon? Would have made my High school years much more pleasurable. But my fondness for Gershon’s hotness aside let’s continue this review.
Another nice casting surprise is Christopher McDonald as Sheriff Jack Banning who’s also Rhee’s buddy in the film.
Watching Philip Rhee kick some white supremacist ass is a lot of fun. The film is piled on with action and Rhee by nature is such a likeable personality that you really root for him. Just like Rambo he â€œDoesn’t want any troubleâ€ but trouble find him. All the martial art fights are beautifully choreographed and you can really feel each kick. The bad guys are so nasty that you can’t help but shout â€œFuck yeah!â€ every-time Rhee breaks one of their jaws. The film also isn’t lacking in the gun fight departments. But Rhee prefers to use his fists and kicks to deliver justice.
Performances are unusually above par with Dee Wallace stealing all of her scenes. She really brings a humanity to a single parent who’s watching her son become something truly awful. Philip Rhee is charismatic and knows how to fight. Why he isn’t working anymore is lost on me. Considering how his martial arts and acting skills are above par.
Gina Gershon delivers a tough and vulnerable. Performance. She was oozing talent even back then and she continues to impress with flicks like â€œKiller Joeâ€. BOTB is a must see for martial arts and action fans. The entire series is worth a look, all four films are excellent.
BOTB 3 makes it Blu-ray debut in a full 1080P 1.78:1 transfer that is surprisingly solid. Flesh tones for the most part look natural. Fine detail is lacking a bit but for a DTV action film, this is the best this film is ever going to look.
Audio is an English 2.0 track which is crisp and clear.
I’m hoping with this Blu-ray release that this wonderful franchise and fun film gets the recognition the series so badly deserves. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.