Danny Davis (Michael Worth) is the light heavyweight kickboxing champion of Ohio but he wants to be the national champion so he approaches Nick Taylor (Lorenzo Lamas) for training. Nick used to be the national champion but he is still haunted by his brutal defeat at the hands and feet of Jack Gerard (Jeff Langton). Nick is now an alcoholic who makes his money on the oil wrestling circuit. (The girls wrestle in oil while Nick kickboxes in a ring. Guess what most of the people in the bar end up watching?) When Danny and Nick first meet, the arrogant Nick refuses to have anything to do with him. But when Nick sees Danny win his match and shout out, “I am invincible!,” Nick decides to take him under his wing. The kid’s good but he needs to learn some lessons about making potentially ironic declarations in the ring.
Nick trains Danny and shows him that all of his talent won’t mean anything if he allows himself to become predictable. Soon, Nick and Danny are making the national circuit and fighting in Las Vegas. But as Danny becomes successful, Nick starts to grow jealous. He starts to feel as if his girlfriend, Maggie (the incredible Kathleen Kinmont), prefers Danny to him and he becomes so insecure that he can’t even perform long enough to cheat with a local prostitute that he picks up in a bar. Making matters worse is that, for Danny to become the champ, he’s going to have to defeat Jake Gerard, the man who ended Nick’s professional career.
Occasionally, late night Cinemax took a break from showing nudity-filled neo-noirs to show films like this one, a low-budget rip-off of Rocky, The Karate Kid, and Kickboxer. Of all the films that came out of this very 90s genre, Final Impact is one of the better examples. The fight scenes are exciting but the real appeal of this film is that it stars Lorenzo Lamas and Kathleen Kinmont, back when they were still a couple. Kinmont was one of the best of the 90s video vixens, beautiful and not a bad actress either. Meanwhile, Lorenzo Lamas was the male Shannon Tweed. Lamas may not have been a great actor but his total lack of shame and his ability to deliver deadpan dialogue like, “No one is invincible,” without cracking a smile made him more entertaining than many of his fellow direct-to-video stars. Lamas lurches drunkenly through Final Impact, taking both himself and the movie far too seriously and playing Nick’s emotional breakdown like an actor begging the Academy to just take a look. It’s fun to watch.
Final Impact ends as these films always do, with a champion being crowned. As far as I’m concerned, everyone in the film is champion, a champion of 90s Cinemax.