13 December 2015 | The_Phantom_Projectionist
"We're in (crap) up to our noses and sinkin', baby"
Ian Jacklin is pretty busy these days peddling pseudoscience to cancer patients, but in 1993, he was approaching the peak of his career as an action hero and releasing the first of two solo vehicles. Disappointingly, he did so through Cine Excel Entertainment – a film studio that made PM Entertainment look like Paramount and Cannon Films like Warner Bros. EXPERT WEAPON has a couple unique touches that will make it appeal to hardcore B-movie fans, but general karate devotees will be hard-pressed to find much to like about this one.
The story: A convicted killer bound for the gas chamber (Jacklin) is recruited by a shadowy government organization to become a specialized assassin.
Essentially, this is a macho take on LA FEMME NIKITA with kickboxing. There is some potential: the training scenes are fairly entertaining, and the meat of the plot is a decently-handled romance that Jacklin's character initiates with a murdered target's wife (Julie Merril). It's mildly fun at times, but the film struggles to keep up a basic level of intrigue. Cine Excel's legendary cheapness is on full display in scenes that have clearly been shot without sound and dubbed in post-production, as well as the frequent fudging of action shots (e.g. explosions obviously filmed at different locations than where they take place in the story). The pace of the picture is not quite as meandering as it could be, but it's exacerbated by the empty bleakness of the film's world – giving the production an uncomfortably emaciated feel. Basically, it's hard to stay glued to the screen with this one.
Jacklin is the star here, but as much as I wish I could say that he was one of the best parts of the film, he isn't. Ian's character is given a couple interesting character quirks, but he's largely bland and leaves no dramatic impression whatsoever. B-movie staple Mel Novak is much more interesting in his role of Jacklin's mentor, especially after making an entrance wherein he's dressed like a priest and beats up Ian for urinating on his bible. And while "The Jackal" may be the professional kickboxer among the cast, Novak definitely has the better fights. I wish this were high praise, but few of the eleven awkwardly-staged, poorly-paced brawls are in any condition to entertain. Though the finale allows for Ian to engage in a rare stickfight against enforcer David Loo, it's nothing special.
The inclusion of low budget stars Sam Jones and Joe Estevez sadly does not elevate the movie at all, leaving the film as nothing more than a weak time-waster. Ian Jacklin never appeared in any great movies, but he's definitely done better than this. Don't bother.