Fist Fighter (1989, directed by Frank Zuniga)


C.J. Thunderbird (played by Jorge Rivero) is a former professional fighter who is now a miner living in Arizona.  Two years ago, Thunderbird’s best friend was killed by a fighter named Rhino (Matthias Hues).  Thunderbird swore vengeance and, when he gets a telegram informing him that Rhino has been spotted in Bolivia, Thunderbird heads down to South America, looking to settle things once and for all.  With the help of a down-on-his-luck trainer named Punchy (Edward Albert), Thunderbird nearly defeats Rhino in the ring but the fight is suddenly stopped by the local police, all of whom are paid off by local drug dealer, Billy Vance (Mike Connors).  Rhino works for Vance and Vance doesn’t want his most fearsome goon to be shown up in public.  Thunderbird and Puchy soon find themselves in one of those prisons where the inmates are forced to take part in underground cage matches.  Thunderbird’s only chance of survival and perhaps escape depends upon defeating yet another fighter, the Beast (Gus Rethwisch).

The coolest thing about Fist Fighter is that it’s called Fist Fighter.  It sounds like a title for a movie that someone made up but instead, it’s very, very real.  The 2nd coolest thing about Fist Fighter is that the hero is named Thunderbird.  I think this was Thunderbird’s only film adventure.  If Fist Fighter had made more money, it could have led to a Thunderbird franchise.  Jorge Rivero wasn’t much of an actor but he’s good in the fight scenes and Edward Albert overacts to such an extent that he easily makes up for Rivero’s inability to actually show emotion.  I also liked Mike Connors as the smug villain.  Brenda Bakker plays Billy Vance’s mistress.  Of course, she ends up falling for Thunderbird.

Fist Fighter is dumb but entertaining.  If Rivero’s role has been played by Jean-Claude Van Damme or Dolph Lundgren, two action stars who could actually act as well as convincingly fight, Fist Fighter would probably be a cult classic.  As it is, it’s one of the more entertaining of the many rip-offs of Bloodsport.

“On Transit” : Max Morris Puts The Pedal To The Metal


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Originally self-published “way” back in 2017 but only now making its way in front of my eager eyes, Chicago cartooning legend Max Morris’ On Transit is an admirably rancid duo-tone nightmare very much in the Gary Panter tradition, albeit with perhaps an even more raw punk sensibility, and is a legit must-read item for anyone reliant upon the whims and vagaries of public transportation, particularly CTA buses — although the bus system of any major city works in a pinch as a substitute. And while the depiction of the ride herein is exaggerated for both comic and horrific effect, chances are good it’s going to ring true for most readers because, hey, most of us have been there and done that.

Like being a prison guard or a schoolteacher, driving a bus is one of those occupations where you’re better off admitting silently to yourself that the inmates are running…

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