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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blu Review 75 No Retreat No Surrender
No Retreat No Surrender

Distributor Soul Media (Scandinavia)

Well, you know you are in real trouble when a very young Jean Claude Van Damme turns in the best performance in the movie...

Yes this is one of those (very) 1980's martial arts actioners that they made so many of back in the day and as usual comes complete with the misunderstood...
Published on 24 Mar. 2013 by Blu Review Obscura

versus
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This film is a classic......This dvd is NOT!!!
I grew up watching all the martial arts classics and 'No Retreat' is one of my favourit fighting flicks of the 80s, so when it eventually came to dvd I was pretty excited..... until I watched it. As soon as the menu screen came up with a new version of the classic theme song 'Stand On Your Own', a bad feeling in my stomach began to grow, and it only got worst. The entire...
Published on 19 Nov. 2007 by Airi Momo


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blu Review 75 No Retreat No Surrender, 24 Mar. 2013
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No Retreat No Surrender

Distributor Soul Media (Scandinavia)

Well, you know you are in real trouble when a very young Jean Claude Van Damme turns in the best performance in the movie...

Yes this is one of those (very) 1980's martial arts actioners that they made so many of back in the day and as usual comes complete with the misunderstood youth moving to a new area, a group of local boys who dislike the invasion of their territory and the wise old martial arts teacher who unwillingly becomes involved in the drama turning the leading character into the ultimate warrior complete with full personality change thrown in for good measure.

Admittedly this doesn't sound like much of an endorsement, however there a number of reasonably good ideas spread throughout the movie. Firstly the wise old martial arts teacher in this case is non other than the spirit of Bruce Lee himself who apparently returns from beyond the grave to help the leading character with his training. Secondly, there is an underlying backstory which eventually comes full circle towards the end of the movie involving a crime syndicate who just happen to retain the services of a certain Jean Claude Van Damme in his first starring role. Now although there are certainly things to like in the film it is not without its problems; Van Damme aside, the rest of the acting in this one ranges anywhere from pretty shaky at best to downright cringe inducing which will leave anyone other than 80's aficionado's squirming with embarrassment.

The films chequered history doesn't end there however. Originally released in US territories in a substantially shortened re-scored version, the film has long been overdue a decent release having been surprisingly overlooked on DVD. European collectors however have been able to buy the film on DVD in a number of different territories however all prints contained the extended International cut and were taken from a cropped video master which really did the transfer no favours.

With a poor track record of home video releases, it was certainly surprising to see the films International cut scheduled for release as a DVD/Blu-ray set first in Scandinavia followed by an upcoming Blu-ray in Australia and you would probably be justified in thinking this may have been at best one of those dodgy upscales thrown out by a distributor with no care or attention to detail. Thankfully however this isn't the case here as the 1080p 1.85:1 transfer looks at least to be presented in the correct aspect ratio showing considerably more image in frame than the previous DVD releases. That's not to say the transfer isn't without it's issues; there are numerous scratches and blemishes throughout the print and even a few minor instances of dirt showing up from time to time. On the plus side however, colours and black levels show a marked improvement over any previous release and detail seems pretty reasonable throughout so unless a US distributor suddenly decided to spend a fair amount of money on a full re-scan and restoration, this is pretty likely to be as good as it gets. One thing however to bear in mind, the Scandinavian release is locked to region B so US buyers will need multi region capability to view the film.

Audio is presented in DD2.0 and although dialogue is relatively clean the soundtrack does come across as tinny or slightly muffled although this is more than likely in keeping with the original sound elements from the International version which uses a very different audio track with alternate music takes. Some occasional distortion can be heard if you really rank the volume level up high however this film was never going to be one to test out your speaker system so as long as you don't set your expectations too high you should be ok.

Extras are unfortunately non existent and although it would be easy to mention the possibility of having both cuts of the film with interviews etc.. the scarcity of the film itself makes it hardly surprising that there is sadly nothing else on offer.

All things considered, if you are a fan of the film this is easily to best release to date. For anyone else, then you may wish to rent or borrow the film first as this really is one of those movies where you had to be there at the time to fully appreciate. Of course regular Van Damme collectors will also wish to add this to their blu-ray collection and although his screen presence is fairly limited, he must have caught the attention of film makers somewhere as he moved from this to his breakout performance in Bloodsport nearly 2 years later which was then followed by a succession of notable hits.

No Retreat No Surrender certainly makes for an interesting look at how movies were made back in the day although whether that is actually good or bad depends on your own personal taste, still there is much fun to be had here if you remember to view the film as a product of its time and ensure to first engage your sense of humour.

After all if you are spending time watching a low budget 80's action movie, then you're not really expecting to see a serious film are you?

BLU REVIEW OBSCURA : blu-ray reviews for non mainstream movies - To access our library of full reviews check out our official website at blureviewobscura.yolasite.com then come and have your say at our members discussion group on facebook
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This film is a classic......This dvd is NOT!!!, 19 Nov. 2007
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This review is from: No Retreat, No Surrender [DVD] (DVD)
I grew up watching all the martial arts classics and 'No Retreat' is one of my favourit fighting flicks of the 80s, so when it eventually came to dvd I was pretty excited..... until I watched it. As soon as the menu screen came up with a new version of the classic theme song 'Stand On Your Own', a bad feeling in my stomach began to grow, and it only got worst. The entire film had been totally rescored with really, really bad music. And worst still, painfully awful, originally cut scenes had been added, and other parts of the film were missing, I found myself repeating "what have they done...what have they done". Ruined it, big time, that's what they've done. I'm sorry to say that as much as I love this classic, which is a lot (even though it tries to bring Bruce back from the dead), I only lasted about thirty-five minutes before cursing, removing the dvd disc, and listing it for sale on amazon as quickly as I possibly could. Then, I searched amazon for the original vhs version and bought a copy faster than you could say boo! And then proceeded to watch it as it was meant to be seen and heard! Brilliant! Honestly, I have no idea how so many people haven't noticed the seriously massive differences between this new and very poor dvd version (bad!), and the original classic vhs version (good!). If you've still got a vcr machine and you really like this film then my advice is buy the vid, it's so much better. The only thing I did like about the this whole dvd saga, is that it gave me an excuse to rediscovered the brilliance that is.... 'NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER'.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars They've Ruined It, 9 April 2008
By 
This review is from: No Retreat, No Surrender [DVD] (DVD)
I agree with Preceeding review. This film in its original VHS format was a classic....a true 5 star 80's movie, up there with "Karate Kid". However, the DVD release has totally ruined the film. Loads of Scenes are missing - Including those were Jason meets up with Kelly BEFORE the Birthday Party - a pretty important part of the story if you ask me. Whats worse is the "good" original footage - which has been removed, has been replaced with "Rubbish" scenes that were not in the VHS version - which do nothing to improve the movie or story. They've also replaced a lot of the original music, including theme song "Stand on Your Own." I'm not sure, but I think this may be the European version, which was sold as "Karate Tiger" and not "No Retreat - No Surrender."

If like me, you no longer have a VCR player - then this is worth watching only for the nostalgic value......if you still have a VCR then buy the video as the DVD is absolute pants.

If anybody from the publishing company is out there - please please please release the original UK Video Version on DVD - it's 100 times better than this pap you are selling. - Also change the cover - Why have Van Damme on the cover, you should have the original artwork, which was Kurt McKinney & Van Damme, with the American and Russian Flags.....
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars UK EIV VHS Review, 23 April 2013
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Considering the majority of people on this thread have already stated the most obvious about this movie I still feel compelled to throw my ten pence in as a very big fan of this film.

I am writing this small review as this is for the VHS release which im sure if you grew up in the 80's like myself and watched it over and over you will have great fondness for it.
That being said I must make sure that if you watched it in the UK years ago then this is the ONLY version you should consider purchasing for nostalgic reasons as the DVD release is the USA version and is severely butchered with a different score and some scenes being removed. They have however included some extra scenes which are nice and is worth the watch but it just isnt the same film.

If you are from the USA and are reading this then you will probably think I am talking twoddle and think the USA version is far superior but like I have said this is a review from a nostalgic point of view and depending on where you are from and which version you have viewed then will alter your opinion.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Love, 17 May 2005
By 
Ben (Coventry, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: No Retreat, No Surrender [DVD] (DVD)
I loved this film, excellent martial arts film, I was quite surprised considering the age of it. I bought this DVD due to the fact I'm a huge Van Damme film, but he's barely in it. If you're a martial arts film fan then I recommend this but if you're wanting it for Van Damme don't bother, DVD cover is false advertising as he's in it for about 10 maybe 20 minutes in the whole film.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Girls Just Want to Have Fun + The Karate Kid = No Retreat No Surrender., 25 Mar. 2014
This review is from: No Retreat, No Surrender [DVD] (DVD)
Somehow No Retreat No Surrender ends up being quite fun. Somehow because the acting all round is very dire. The plot you can go along with mostly because the movie has likable characters and still has that 80s innocence feel about it. And despite its obvious shortcomings at least the movie is chockablock full of martial arts, unlike some Hollywood blockbusters.

The plot put simply is about a group of gangsters, a young Jean Claude Van Damme plays a henchman, go around putting pressure on the dojos to sign up with them or face closure. One father does so and his karate kicking son isnt't at all happy. They move from LA to Seattle and there he meets some friends and foes and the gangsters come a knocking because I suppose there is a dojo in Seattle. Kid played by Kurt McKinney gets beat up, etc and seeks out his revenge via his love for Bruce Lee. Indeed one segment has Lee coming back from the grave to teach his young student. This would have been laughable but at least the guy playing Lee, Tai Chung Kim did actually double for the martial arts legend in a couple of films way back when.

As i've said before the acting is a real low- and the kids all twenty somethings look about 14. Most of the actors only did this one movie which is no surprise. The worst of them is a toss up but I'll go for the kids dad, Timothy D Baker, fair enough acting was never his game as he was an actual martial artist, but oh my this guy is bad. His wife gives him a good run for his money but at least the makers saw fit to only include her in 2 mins of the movie.

Speaking of cameo appearances, don't expect to see much of Van Damme. He's only spread over the front and back cover because of what he would achieve after the movie. Because fans will be disappointed at seeing him for less than 10 minutes.

The movie is bad but in a good way, and did at times with the help of the kids friend RJ feel like Girls Just Want to Have Fun minus the dance competition. It is fun though, just don't expect anything else.
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1.0 out of 5 stars The U.K. version, this is not - Whata disappointment!, 6 July 2011
This review is from: No Retreat, No Surrender [DVD] (DVD)
Just like some of the previous reviewers, I too bought this DVD in earnest anticipation of reviving some fond memories of the first time that I watched this film. In fact it was this film that first introduced me to the legend that is Van Damme and as result, whilst some of my recollections prior to purchasing this DVD 'remake' were a little vague, certain elements are still engrained in my nostalgia bank.

You can imagine my disappointment then when I discovered that one of my all time favourite martial arts films had been systematically vandelised by the cutting room equivalent of a deranged axe-wielding sociopath - I was livid! Things like this should never be allowed to happen and the corporate sleazebag who was responsible for this travesty should be unceremoniously sacked and deported - their accumulated assets sold and the proceeds used to republish this awesome title the way it should have been.

I want the cold-war themed cover back in all its kitch 80's glory. I want the original musical score reinjected replete with electronic beeps, buzzes and bings and last but by no means least, I want the original scenes back, if only to re-assert some semblence of continuity. Oh and whilst your at it - employ someone who has actually taken the trouble to watch the film before assigning them the task of composing the title's plot summary.

In short, to anyone who has the foresight to read the reviews before commiting to a purchase, if you saw this film in it's original VHS format and are looking to relive the moment, please don't vindicate this colossal act of wanton sacriledge - buy the VHS version #if you can find one# or contact JCVD himself and report this attrocity to his marketing agent.

n.b. I typed this review before I became aware that there are in fact, two 'alternate' cuts - The original version for North America and the version that I am so fond of, the UK version. This DVD is the 'original' North American version so on that basis, the Corporate Sleazebag is entitled to a modest reprieve but Universal Pictures #U.K.# Ltd. still ought to front the cash required to provide us hapless 'Regions 2' #read: U.K.# customers with the U.K. version.
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5.0 out of 5 stars You're good. I get better., 4 Sept. 2008
This review is from: No Retreat, No Surrender [DVD] (DVD)
Remember that they warned us that the quality of films stored on VHS would deteriorate over time. I watched a copy of No retreat, No Surrender recently and found that this is, in fact, true.

However, I thought they were referring to a deterioration in the quality of the visual image and soundtrack. It utrns out that it was the quality of the acting that suffered.

How could I not have noticed on viewing it for the first time all those years ago that there was more ham in the acting that there was in a butcher's window.

RW Fails, who plays RJ Madison III, is a shockingly bad actor, as is Jason Stillwell's dad.

Scott (the fat kid) is trying so hard to be serious but fails completely to pull it off.

The wooden man that Jason uses for his martial arts practice is more expressive than either of them. I think a quick look at their subsequent success in the movie business says it all.

That said, I absolutely loved the film all over again for different reasons, and the poor acting just makes it more endearing to me. Jean Claude Van Damme appears as the bad guy in a role just preceding his appearance in another 80s classic, Kickboxer. A Belgian playing a Russian - inspired!

Anyway, I recommend it wholeheartedly and you can sum up my experience of the film from the original viewing in the mid 80s, to the recent rediscovery of its charm, in an excerpt from the film's dialogue:

"You're good"

"I get better!"
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Retreat, No Surrender, 11 July 2003
By A Customer
This is a good martial arts film about a Bruce Lee fan who studies Karate under his father
One day he sees his father get beaten by gang member Ivan The Russian(Jean-Claude Van Damme) whos gang want the dojo (school).
The boy learns Jeet Kune Do from Bruce Lee's Spirit and fights Jean-Claude Van Damme in a Martial Arts tornament.
An Excellent Martial Arts Film!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Jean Claude van Damme debuts as the baddie, 12 Dec. 2007
This review is from: No Retreat, No Surrender [DVD] (DVD)
This movie came as a surprise to me, simply because it was so entertaining. Despite that it's total low budget and has tons of cheesy moments, I just loved it from beginning to end. One of the reasons is because the movie had a typically 80's feel to it, and it didn't take itself seriously at all. Also, This movie came as a surprise to me, simply because it was so entertaining. Despite that it's total low budget and has tons of cheesy moments, I just loved it from beginning to end. One of the reasons is because the movie had a typically 80's feel to it, and it didn't take itself seriously at all. Also, Jean Claude van Damme makes a really cool debut in this movie. He delivered a rather good performance as an evil Russian fighter. There aren't too much great martial arts in the movie, but the last scene is really good. This fight scene is much better than what I've seen in many other action movies, so give this movie a try if you like martial arts. in this movie. He delivered a rather good performance as an evil Russian fighter. There aren't too much great martial arts in the movie, but the last scene is really good. This fight scene is much better than what I've seen in many other action movies, so give this movie a try if you like martial arts.
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No Retreat, No Surrender [DVD]
No Retreat, No Surrender [DVD] by Corey Yuen (DVD - 2004)
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