16th Nov2015

‘Blastfighter’ Blu-ray Review (88 Films)

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Michael Sopkiw, Valentina Forte, George Eastman, Stefano Mingardo, Ottaviano Dell’Acqua, Massimo Vanni, Elizabeth Forbes, Carl Savage, Michele Soavi, George Williams | Written by Luca De Rita, Massimo De Rita, Morando Morandini Jr., Dardano Sacchetti | Directed by Lamberto Bava

blastfighter-blu

Number four in 88 Films Italian Collection, Blastfighter is one of those movies that, at least amongst cult movie fans, has gained legendary status, even for those that have never so much as seen the film! This is the type of action flick that fans of the genre hail as the pinnacle of insane, over the top, no-holds-barred Rambo/Deliverance knock-offs – for that is obviously where this film takes its inspiration. But this is backwoods-style vigilante justice with an Italian twist of course! Which is undoubtedly why the film has gained such a cult status.

Directed by Lamberto Bava, son of Giallo master Mario Bava and the man behind the 80s cult classic Demons, Blastfighter was only Bava’s third feature and oddly one of three non-horror movies he didn’t lend his name to in the early 80s – the others being Devouring Waves (which also starred Michael Sopkiw) and Midnight Killer – all three of which are credited to “John Old. Jr” rather than Bava. But yes, this IS a Lamberto Bava movie and probably one of his best at that, sitting somewhere just behind Demons and its sequel.

Blastfighter tells the story of an ex-cop with THE best name ever, Jake “Tiger” Sharp. Who, following a stint in prison for murdering his wife’s killer, is given a fancy new shotgun, the Spaz-12 (the titular weapon if you will – though the title really stems from the fact this was originally set to be a sci-fi movie, not backwoods action flick), by his firiend and is all set to get revenge on the dodgy lawyer who put him in jail. Only he doesn’t. Instead he heads off into the woods for a chance at a quiet life, Yeah… We knew that wasn’t going to happen. Especially not when Jake crosses paths with a bunch of Deliverance-ish good old boys – working for man-mountain George Eastman (Anthropophagus) – who are killing everything, and everyone, in sight. Including Jake’s estranged daughter, played by the gorgeous Valentina Forte (Cut & Run), who just happens to be paying him a visit. Big mistake! Out comes the Spaz-12 and its wonderful array of crazy bullets and it’s bye-bye bad guys in some of the most insane kills ever committed to celluloid…

I’d previously only ever seen Blastfighter on a badly duped VHS bootleg and as poor-quality terribly-encoded YouTube video back in the early days of the internet. So, obviously, the new Blu-ray from 88 Films is something of a revelation. The picture is crisp and clean, with minimal grain – though the print does look washed out (low contrast blacks and colours) during the odd scene. I’ve read reports that this is the weakest transfer so far in 88 Films Italian Collection but I don’t see how, I think the print quality is miles better than 88 Films’ Blu-ray of Zombi Holocaust for example.

However not even a new HD print can change the ridiculous country soundtrack Bava employs early on in Blastfighter, which – like a lot of Italian movies – is totally at odds with the film itself. In fact at times it’s like watching an action movie whilst listening to an episode of Benny Hill! Though thankfully once the plot kicks in, the crap country tunes are replaced with a Carpenter-esque synth score which hepls ramp up the tension and excitement.

Extras are minimal on this Blu-ray release – there are some trailers for other 88 Films releases as well as an interview with cinematographer Gianlorenzo Battaglia which runs just under thirteen minutes. Not a lot but the chat with Battaglia is well worth watching.

Blastfighter is out now on Blu-ray and DVD from 88 Films.

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