For some reason, I've been on a Don "The Dragon" Wilson kick (no pun intended) lately.
Back in 1989, producer Roger Corman decided he wanted to cash in on the popularity of Jean-Claude Van Damme's early hits, Bloodsport and Kickboxer. Story has it that he actually approached the Muscles from Brussels, but JCVD turned the legendary exploitation mogul down. In any case, Corman was undeterred, and recruited Don Wilson, a multiple-title winning American kickboxer from South Florida to play the lead in his film, Bloodfist.
Wilson had the martial arts cred and was an okay-if-offbeat looking young man, who, if lacking in acting ability, at least possessed a certain likable, "average Joe" kind of quality. When it comes to action stars, likability and convincing moves are a lot more important than thespic skills, and Wilson has been starring in low-budget actioners ever since.
Anyway, as I said above, for some reason, I've been into Wilson's movies lately, which has a been a bit problematic since Netflix's selection of his flicks is inexplicably sparse, and most of his DVDs are out of print. I tracked down used copies of Bloodfist and Bloodfist II online, and will probably be picking up some more when I can afford them.
I enjoyed Bloodfist - which was pretty much exactly a combination of the two JCVD movies I named above - but I enjoyed Bloodfist II even more. That one was a super-cheap rip-off of Enter The Dragon! Both feature supporting casts of genuine martial arts competitors, so the fight scenes are better than average for chop-socky flix of their era.
I also just picked up, from a local video store that was going out of business, a much more recent effort of his, the cop flick Crooked (aka Soft Target), released in '06. That one teamed him up with fellow B-movie action star Olivier Gruner in a fairly predictable, direct-to-video effort that I also enjoyed. It was pretty bad, frankly, but I had fun with it, and dug the B-movie cast (Gary Busey, Martin Kove, Fred Williamson, etc.).
The Bloodfist series eventually ran to 8 or 9 installments, with Wilson playing a different character in each one after the first two. They were all released on DVD in the early days of the format by Corman's own label, but they're long out of print now. It may be sad, but, with the help of this Internet thingy, I hope to eventually get them all....