Top critical review
Couldnt exactly recommend, though this kiddies actioner is a piece of games on film history
on 19 August 2017
This is one of those hilariously bad movies which really deserves a cult following of some sort. I never heard of it in 1994 at all, I was a huge fan of the video games, it being one of the very first side scrolling beat em ups in the arcades, spawning a series of sequels and ports to microcomputers like the commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum and later Sega and Nintendo (I even owned and played the Battle Toads and Double Dragon team up, one of the most difficult games on the NES).
I heard about the movie adaptation in some social media articles and blog spots discussing the backstory to the game which no one seemed to know about, that it was actually set in a post-apocalyptic future rather than a present day over run by gangs, which means it is closer to Mad Max than The Warriors as a genre movie (I always thought the game had been to The Warriors what Mortal Kombat was to Enter The Dragon).
The movie itself is about as ungritty as they come, featuring children, more than one stunt race sequence and all in all appearing like a tamer (no swearing or nudity) version of Police Academy and some ecological or green undertones (rivers catch fire, earthquakes, pollution, urban decay with policing restricted to certain districts and the hours of day light).
The martial arts are kind of on a par with Karate Kid, if even that, there is a tournament in the beginning which heavily borrows from the tournament fought in Karate Kid, or so I thought. An online review by James Rolfe suggests this movie was released between Mario Brothers and Street Fighter, which made sense, in terms of video games adaptations to the big screen. A lot more effort is made to honour the backstory (which barely anyone had paid any attention to, even doing more than was probably necessary to explain recurring boss fights or even the absurdly muscular appearance of some of the bosses) than either of those movies but while some of the acting attempts to strike a more serious note the action still comes off as more slapstick comic than I'm guessing was the directors intention.
This film could have been something other than a kiddy actioner, the backstory resembles that of mad max, fist of the north star or any of the robocop future lawless dystopias with gangs of punks but the producers/studio must have created something with a younger (larger) audience in mind. The special effects are awful too, more Roger Rabbit or (at their best towards the end of the film) Buffy The Vampire Slayer, than anything else.