If you’re a fan of movies, chances are you have seen your fair share of amazing martial arts films. You may have seen some pretty bad ones as well. However, if you are fortunate enough you have probably seen the great gem that is this week’s exploitation alley, which is a perfect combination of both good and bad, and a whole lot of cheese. So let’s put on our sleeveless crop tops, hang up our Bruce Lee posters, and pull on the tightest jeans possible…It’s time for NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER!!!!
Made in 1986, and directed by Corey Yuen, NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER is the tale of a young boy in the mid-1980s learning martial arts from the one and only…Bruce Lee’s ghost. Oh yeah, totally normal right? The film starts out with some sweet 80s beats playing to a karate class practicing, and random scenes of the streets of Los Angeles. All seems well till Jason’s father Tom Stillwell, (Timothy D. Baker) who is also the karate instructor, gets his leg broken by Ivan Kraschinsky the Russian.(Jean-Claude Van Damme) Tom has a serious discussion with himself in the hospital and decides the best thing for his family is to move away…to Seattle. Jason Stillwell (Kurt McKinney) makes a new friend within seconds of moving to the new neighborhood. R. J Madison (J.W Fails) who is quite a character. A character that randomly breakdances and free styles a rap song for no reason, within about five minutes of meeting Jason. As Jason instantly gains a best friend, (no, really it’s like fast. They become close in seconds..it is kind of weird.) He also gains an enemy who hates him just by looking at him. Scott(Kent Lipham) is quite possibly the most unlikable character, and that’s because Ivan broke someone’s leg? Seriously though, Scott is a jealous, evil, conniving little thing.
While Scott tries his hardest to ruin Jason and R.J’s lives, he takes it too far when he causes a fight at a party, resulting in Jason losing a fight and being humiliated in front of his love interest, Kelly Reilly. (Kathie Sileno) Determined to learn to fight, Jason drives over to Bruce Lee’s grave to whine, but his crying somehow summons the spirit of Bruce Lee. He goes home to have a typical teenage fight with his dad, and then exactly as you would expect, Bruce Lee’s spirit shows up. He lectures Jason, and we see a montage of Jason training, followed by another lecture, another montage, a lecture, and yet another montage. Yeah…really. Pay close attention to the different training moves used during the montages because they are pretty neat. The film then becomes a cluster of random scenes leading up to an epic ending. Will Jason overcome his obstacles and benefit from the training of ghost Bruce Lee? I highly suggest watching this gem to find out. You will not be disappointed.
With all of the ass kicking, the random plot, more than one breakdancing scene that occurs for no reason and the abundance of feathered hair make this movie one of the coolest things to come out of the 80s. If you have not seen this, you should. As a result of watching this, you will laugh, get confused, laugh, feel like kicking someone and then probably laugh again.