The cover of my VHS copy of Blastfighter
Director: Lamberto Bava
Starring: Michael Sopkiw, Valentina Forte, George Eastman
Format: VHS (Medusa)
Italian director Lamberto Bava is best known to most of us as the son of the great Mario Bava and for his gory horror movies Demons and Demons 2. But he dabbled in other genres as well. In 1984 he helmed two action movies, the much-maligned Devil Fish (victim of a MST3K lampooning) and the lesser-known Blastfighter.
Jake "Tiger" Sharp (Sopkiw, 2019: AFTER THE FALL OF NEW YORK) is an ex-cop just released from jail for the murder of the man who killed his wife. He heads to his old hometown in the mountains of Georgia, where he is soon butting heads with the redneck locals, led by former rival Tom (George Eastman, 1990: THE BRONX WARRIORS). Tom, his brother Wally (Stefano Mingardo, ATLANTIS INTERCEPTORS) and their hillbilly buddies are torturing wildlife for a Hong Kong businessman, who uses the animals to make aphrodisiacs for the Asian market.
Tiger's daughter Connie (Valentina Forte) shows up unexpectedly and after the war escalates father and daughter are soon fleeing the killer hillbillies through the mountain forest. With his back against the wall, Tiger retrieves a special gun given to him by a cop buddy and goes on the rampage, killing the rednecks off until he faces a final showdown with Tom.
Plot-wise, Blastfighter is a fairly predictable revenge-in-the-woods flick with elements of Deliverance, Walking Tall and First Blood. If it were an American production it would definitely be worth watching, but the Italian influence makes it even more fun. It's got the overdubbed voices we all love from Italian cinema (including some hiliarious redneck accents), a synth-heavy Euro soundtrack by Guido & Maurizio De Angelis (who did a bunch of Bud Spencer/Terrence Hill comedies), and even a cameo by another Italian director, Michele Soavi (CEMETERY MAN), who was assistant director for this film.
Most of the fun comes from the Italian take on American hillbillies, which is pretty campy, and there's more unintentional humour in famiiliar places (like vehicles exploding in huge fireballs from just a small crash into a ditch). There's also a really cool action set piece towards the end, with lots of explosions, smoke and spotlights, and the final shot (playing off an earlier scene of a truck full of animal carcasses) is well done.
Blastfighter is an excellent revenge flick and well worth hunting down, if you'll excuse the pun.