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  Day of the Panther Acceptable In The EightiesBuy this film here.
Year: 1987
Director: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Stars: Edward John Stazak, John Stanton, James Richards, Michael Carman, Zale Daniel, Matthew Quartermaine, Paris Jefferson, Linda Megier, Brian Fitzsimmons, Dennis Broad, Ow Mun Hong, Nim Yap
Genre: Thriller, Martial Arts
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Jason Blade (Edward John Stazak) has just been inducted into the inner circle of the Panthers, a martial arts-practicing Chinese sect, and after branding himself is ready to go on his next mission. This is to check out a large drugs deal and see what information he can gather about it, and so, accompanied by Linda (Linda Megier), the daughter of his mentor William Anderson (John Stanton), they sneak into a deal with the Triads to take a few photographs of the offending parties. However, someone is onto them and once Linda gets back to Perth, Blade is powerless to help when her plans go wrong...

Brian Trenchard-Smith had enjoyed an international hit with The Man from Hong Kong back in the seventies, so who better to salvage this martial arts production from the following decade? It showcased the skills of Edward John Stazak, who may have been a wooden actor and somewhat bumfaced, as British viewers might describe him, but he sure could kick. So it is that we see Jason Blade handling himself in fight after fight, proving time and again that he could have been the star of a stream of action movies from the heyday of such things...

...if only he hadn't been in Australia, and had gone international. As it was there were but two films to star Stazak, made back to back with each other, and after that, who knows what happened to him? Let's hope he's happy kicking drug dealers' heads in somewhere. Because that's what he does here, as Blade (do you think the character was really called that, or is that what he told people to call him?) takes on the might of Perth's underworld, all ten of them. He can't do anything to save Linda, as although she puts up a brave struggle she ends up dead, so revenge is on his mind as well.

With all the men looking as if they took their clothing tips from Miami Vice, and a plot that sees our hero going undercover, this could have been any crime thriller of the eighties, but there's something about Day of the Panther that makes it stand out. Is it the stunning combat sequences? Crackling dialogue? How about the scene where Blade is courted by Anderson's niece Gemma (Paris Jefferson) with some perfectly of its time aerobic dancing? Yes, it's probably the latter, for this is a thick slice of cheese whichever way you look at it, and for many viewers that will be enough to have them asking where do I sign?

It's hard to see if the cast thought they were being serious, or simply having a laugh, but there is a sincerity here that will undoubtedly have you chuckling, or even splitting your sides should the mood take you. The drugs baron is called Zukor (Michael Carman), who favours canary yellow V-necked jumpers with no shirts, yachts, lots of yachts and saying things like "If you'll excuse me, I need to get laid". Blade poses (oh, how he poses) as a new henchman for him after making quick work of his heavies, but what he really wants to do is bust his ring. His drugs ring, that is, and to add a little spice there's a right hand man, Baxter (James Richards), whose presence means you rub your hands together in anticipation of their clash - and you're not disappointed. There may be those who ignore the dramatics to concentrate on the fighting, but they're missing out on entertainment: it's all good. Well, "good" isn't the word, it's all bad to be honest, but you can't say you were not amused. Music by Brian Beamish and Garry Hardman.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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