Drive-In CouchFest: Day Of The Panther (1988)

I almost thought about making this review for Day Of The Panther another entry in the Awesome Aussies list, reviews which have included a documentary about Australian drive-in fair called Not Quite Hollywood, Dead End Drive-In, Mad Max and Road Warrior, but, seeing as how it technically came in the drive-in box set, I’ll stick with what I’ve got. As far as I remember, DOTP wasn’t mentioned in NQH, but it was directed by noted Aussie action director Bryan Trenchard-Smith, who also did Dead End. I will without a doubt say that this movie is in fact awesome and Australian, but I can’t really tell you much about the story because for the life of my I couldn’t follow a damn minute of it. One minute you’re watching a bunch of white people in a very Asian looking dojo being granted something or other, then a woman (I THINK the same woman from the dojo) has a knock down drag out fight with some dudes wearing masks, then you’ve got our hero Jason Blade (sounds like a Mortal Kombat name to me) getting a weird dance in the middle of a work out session, then an old friend of his shows up but they fight, then Jason, the dancer girl and the old guy all go after a guy who looks like he’s set up shop at the next location for Shakespeare in the park. As for why any of this happens or anyone’s mad at each other, I can’t tell you. It doesn’t help that the brown haired, square jawed white guy playing Blade looks just like the brown haired, square jawed heavy who plays the bad guy. Just now reading the two or three sentence rundown of the plot made things make sense, there are drugs and what not involved and Blade’s partner does get murdered (after that lengthy fight through what looked like a set of Cyborg against several guys in masks, this woman gets taken out by some douchbag in a sportcoat with a switchblade!

Anyway, the hows and whys aren’t what make this a rad movie. At 86 minutes you don’t really have time to worry about those damn plot developments as it seems mostly packed with awesome fights which look dangerously real and weird dance numbers by 80s ladies in leotards that would make a superhero from that time period blush. Or more likely cringe. I’ve said it before in regards to Thai and Australian action movies, what makes them so awesome is the fact that it really seems like those people are doing what they’re doing and most likely getting hurt. There’s one scene towards the end where the old guy tosses his former captor over a ledge. It’s shot from the bottom of the hill through barbwire. You see the guy fly out, then hit the rocky hillside, then roll down into the barbwire where someone’s hand shoots out to stop him. That might take some people out the movie, but it keeps me right in there. That dude could have DIED. The screencaps I took all match up to points why I think you should watch the movie. If you’re not convinced, I don’t know what more I can say.

SCORE: Completely awesome and worth watching, while being mostly hard to follow. Makes me want to check out Strike Of The Panther, the sequel which came out THE SAME YEAR!

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