HEATSEEKER offers anthropologists compelling evidence that man has not evolved much since the days of Roman arenas. Martial arts movies have proven more durable than the gladiator pics of the 1960s, and this example uses a serviceable plot line to introduce a seemingly never-ending
series of no-holds barred matches by international competitors.
In New America of 2019, artificial enhancement takes on a new meaning as prize-fighters improve their chances at victory with cyborg replacement parts. Still ruling the world-wide sport of kickboxing is Chance O'Brien (Keith Cooke) who is the only non-augmented 100% human practicing self-defense
for a living. In this future world, however, manufacturing conglomerates vie for a share of the market in my-best-man-vs-yours fashion. After revamping the bio-enhanced Xao (Gary Daniels), Tung (Norbert Weisser), the evil genius behind the Styx Corporation, masterminds a global martial arts
tournament in which the powerful CEOs can pit their half-human combatants against each other as a test of which company tailors the best replacement parts for fighters.
When Chance proves snooty about compromising his standards with this crass commercialism, Tung kidnaps his girlfriend/trainer Jo (Lisa Cote) and forces her to coach Xao, while stimulating his romantic impulses toward her so that Xao will really want to pummel Chance. As the preliminary rounds
begin, Chance is befriended by an American CEO, Bradford (Thom Mathews), who is secretly under the thumb of Tung. Although ordered to put acid in Chance's glove, so he'll be beaten by Xao, Bradford comes clean to Chance and pays with his life. To the considerable shock of the Styx Board of
Directors, Chance makes mincemeat of out of Tung's star boxer and then disarms a panicky Tung in the ring. After a Styx-payrolled assassin accidentally shoots Xao, Chance and Jo walk away from the arena.
HEATSEEKER provides up variations on a tired plot line (which liberally borrows from Hong Kong's DYNAMO). Indicting corporate sharks with the same satiric spleen it vents on athletes looking for short-cuts, HEATSEEKER is both a kickboxing extravaganza and a statement about the concept of winning
at all costs. Naturally, old-fashioned virtue coupled with brawn triumphs in the end. At no time do the filmmakers allow any of this subtext (or indeed the plot itself) get in the way of the martial arts exhibitions make up much of the film's climax.
Although it gives action buffs more than their money's worth, the film fails to avoid some scripting body blows it could have dodged. Firstly, viewers have become overly familiar with the plot contrivance of having the hero's main squeeze kidnapped in order to motivate him into entering a deadly
competition (at least kidnap his mother for a change of pace). And is it really necessary for the film to lick its chops as Tung takes sexual advantage of Jo with an electronic device that saps the will to resist? In some ways, this pumped-up sci-fi plays like a retread of FLASH GORDON serials
with all the cliffhangers rearranged in various boxing rings. Those in the mood for expertly choreographed brawls and Saturday matinee-type thrills will cheer the cardboard heroes and villains of this pumped-up rendition of the 1930s brand of serial escapism.(Graphic violence, nudity, substanceabuse, extreme profanity.)
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- Released: 1995
- Rating: R
- Review: HEATSEEKER offers anthropologists compelling evidence that man has not evolved much since the days of Roman arenas. Martial arts movies have proven more durable than the gladiator pics of the 1960s, and this example uses a serviceable plot line to introduc… (more)