Of all the no-name karate/kickboxing pictures produced during this era, few are as genuinely worth your while as "Final Impact." Of course, when I mean "you," I'm referring to fans of DTV action cinema who, like me, spend a lot of time trying to track down worthy little gems amidst the giant mountain of trash that accumulated during this era. If you're a cinematic snob or worship The Matrix, don't even bother with this one, which is kinda cheap but nevertheless rises against the tide of its medium and proves itself as one of the few good Lorenzo Lamas martial arts vehicles and a promising start to the film career of Michael Worth.
The story: when up-and-coming kickboxer Danny Davis (Worth, Acapulco H.E.A.T.) approaches dejected former champion Nick Taylor (Lamas, Renegade), he's disappointed to find his hero burnt out and running a dingy fight bar, but Danny's fighting spirit has what it takes to rejuvenate the aging champ, and he promises to train the boy for the world championships - failing to mention his lasting vendetta against the current champ (Jeff Langton, Lionheart) and his desire to get back at him through Danny's talents.
Okay, the story wasn't what I was talking about when I said the flick was above-average. There's very little explanation why Danny wants to be the world champion and the animosity between Nick and his rival could've used a bit more elaboration. Luckily, the reduced storyline lets the talents of the otherwise so-so actors shine a bit: Lamas makes a great conflicted teacher (although someone older might've been better), Worth does real good as the never-say-die student, and they're both complimented Lorenzo's spiffy ex-wife Kathleen Kinmont (C.I.A. Code Name: Alexa), who seems like kind of a throwaway hottie at first but later comes into the story effectively. Again, the acting's not worth raving about, but for this kind of movie, the roles are filled just fine.
Choreographer Eric Lee directs the kickboxing content of the film well: nine good fights, two of them very good, and featuring guys like Gary Daniels (Fist of the North Star) and Ian Jacklin (Death Match) in some stellar encounters. More than anything, the matches showcase the budding skills of Michael Worth, who's definitely among the top five underrated film fighters of western cinema and gets to really strut his stuff here. Surprisingly, Lorenzo Lamas only has one fight throughout the movie, but is obviously in good shape and contributes to some fun training scenes. If the fights suffer from anything, however, it's a lack of camera movement: while the frozen shots are not debilitating, they nonetheless make the matches look a bit bland to folks who don't entirely value pure athleticism and awesome kicks.
Like the fights, the movie takes a while to work through a few technical issues, but once it's on its way, it becomes a trip worth experiencing. There is at least one genuinely surprising dramatic moment near the end of the film to make up for the silly opening credits and the fact that Lamas walks around for half of the movie shirtless and wearing a cowboy hat (come to think of it, that's not a bad thing - just silly on the wardrobe's part). Again, while not without its flaws, "Final Impact" is definitely worth an investment for folks looking for a decent kickboxing flick, and a must-have for Lamas and Worth fans.