Philippine War Week: Fighting Mad (1978)

Editor’s Note: We first reviewed this Cirio H. Santiago (July 5, 2019) flick — originally known as Death Force — that came back in a post-Rambo world to video as Fighting Mad, although it’s more blaxploitation that Namsxploitation and more Kung fu than Rambo. Call it what you will, but it’s a Cirio war flick that fits great into our “Philippines War Week” of reviews.

An American soldier — on his way home from the Vietnam War — is left for dead and is saved by a pair of Japanese stragglers from WWII, who train him in the way of the samurai. This movie is also known as Deadly ForceThe Force and The Black Samurai, as well as several other titles. It’s a compound of blaxploitation and the Kung fu genres, with some social commentary mixed in along the way.

I’ve always been fascinated by the Japanese soldiers who didn’t surrender after World War II. Here, they help our hero Doug — James Iglehart, who was Randy Black from Beyond the Valley of the Dolls — learn the ancient fighting skills he’ll never to make it back home.

Turns out that Doug and his buddies —  McGee (Leon Isaac Kennedy, Too Sweet from the Penitentary) and Morelli (Carmen Argenziano, Grave of the Vampire) —  have stolen gold on the way back from Vietnam for a crime boss. On the way back, they stab our hero, slash his throat and dump him off the boar. Luckily, those aforementioned Japanese soldiers are ready to teach him that violence really does solve issues.

McGee really wants Doug’s wife Maria, who is played by Jayne Kennedy, who appeared on the cover of Plaboy and was selected by Coca Cola USA as the Most Admired Black Woman in America. She was married to the actor playing McGee — Leon Isaac Kennedy — in real life. And back in the days before the Internet, the two appeared in a sex tape so infamous, it’s referenced in a Mr. Show sketch (it’s at the beginning of the “Show Me Your Weenis!” episode where Wyckyd Sceptre gets caught on tape).

We just posted the screencap so that the review itself doesn’t get flagged on Amazon.

The soldiers that help our hero are played by Joe Mari Avellana, who was the Scourge in Wheels of Fire, and Joonee Gamboa, whose characters constantly bicker back and forth.

This movie has an amazing tagline: “She’s in Playboy. He’s out of Penitentary. Jayne Kennedy and Leon Isaac in Fighting Mad.” A bit misleading, as he’s the villain, but what can you do?

Cirio H. Santiago is to blame — or praise — for this. He made more movies than we’ve probably reviewed on this site like Wheels of Fire, Demon of Paradise and Stryker — and a whole bunch of Rambo knockoffs we’re getting to before the end of this week.

You can get Fighting Mad on Mill Creek’s new Soul Team Six blu ray/DVD collection, along with five other films. It’s also available under the title Vengeance Is Mine on a double disc with Vampire Hookers from Vinegar Syndrome. Or you can watch it on Amazon Prime.

DISCLAIMER: Mill Creek sent us the Soul Team Six set, but we were planning on buying it anyway. It has no bearing on this review.

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