War City - Die To Win (1988)

Directed by: Phillip Ko
Written by: Benny Ho
Producers: Joseph Lai & Betty Chan
Starring: Brent Gilbert, Mike Abbott, Danny Ng, Siu Wah, Thomas Hudak & James Hsu

Journalist Hogan publishes an article that exposes well known businessman Murdoch Stockwell (Mike Abbott) as the head of an international prostitution ring. Not surprisingly, Hogan's life is in danger from that point on and he's is eventually murdered. Seemingly anyway. Friend Eric discovers the body but it is absent from the crime scene when the police arrives. Eric, an undercover cop from Korea, needs to investigate further. All while Jack Kelly (Brent Gilbert) is trying to further the case on Stockwell...

Starting off another unrelated series this time with the banner-name War City, it clearly represents IFD working the cut and paste formula using a perceived trend of the modern actioner. The style is the same but the color distinctly less present and fun. Certainly more of a laugh with type of vehicle as Phillip Ko's exposition dumps are clumsy, done on cheap sets around a table of non-actors (and non-natural actors), there is joy to be had in bursts as dialogue is delivered in very basic and flat manner. But nuggets like Abbott's Stockwell spouting lines like 'This crime is so perfect Agatha Christie would be shocked' makes an IFD fan stay... and sit up a little bit.

It's fun incompetence sporadically and the source movie (rumoured to be South Korean) has some minor tricks up its sleeve once it gets the Hogan-mystery established. Designed as an action piece, our lead (at least in the IFD dub) uses Bruce Lee yells, there's evidence of somewhat powerful martial arts on display and the original defies expectations by revealing our geeky looking hero as action-able. Some of this applies to the action directing IFD provides that clearly has someone supervising the short fights in order for them to have the Hong Kong flow and power. Within the framework of IFD, it's acceptable.

It's certainly not the fun template from the ninja-movies and both movies as combined into one are trying in vain ultimately as they have trouble breaking out. On the Korean side the fun elements are simply not enough, not even when Eric for unexplained reasons is revealed to possess a Game Of Death-style tracksuit. We're thankful for any spark connecting back to the inept and tired on display and for a source movie that has SOME color but War City - Die To Win registers more like a minor hum rather than an action explosion.

reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson