“The only law is the Black Tiger’s. The only justice is John Steele’s.”
How are people not losing their minds about this movie?
Directed and written by Robert Boris (the writer of Electra Glide In Blue and Doctor Detroit), this is the story of Vietnam vet John Steele (Martin Kove) and his struggle to fit in with the world after being a career soldier. When his cop friend Lee — and his wife and mother just to out an exclamation point on the crime — is killed, Steele suspects someone they knew in Vietnam, General Bon Soong Kwan (Soon-Tek Oh, Missing In Action 2: The Beginning), who has gone from stealing from the CIA to being an important figure in business.
He’s also running a gang called the Black Tigers, which means that John Steele has to pretty much kill everyone in Kwan’s employ. This is endorsed by his former boss — yes, Steele was a cop once but was too rough even for the LAPD — Captain Bennett (Ronny Cox) who unleashes our hero on Kwan.
This movie is packed with some amazing people, like Sela Ward as Steele’s ex-wife, Bernie Casey as Detective Tom Reese, Sarah Douglas as a district attorney, Jan Gan Boyd from Assassination as Lee’s daughter Cami that Steele promises to raise, plus Shannon Tweed, Peter Kwong (Rain from Big Trouble In Little China), David “Squiggy” Lander as a soldier, Al Leong, James Lew, George Cheung and Phil Fondacaro as a small bartender.
There’s also a bar scene with The Desert Rose Band playing and Astrid Plane from Animotion singing and performing “You’re Not a Lover,” a music video shoot that ends with gunfire when the Black Tigers roll on up. I mean, that scene is worth watching the entire movie for, but this is also a movie well worth all of your time, as Steele also has a killer snake as a pet and is given to wearing camouflage face paint.
Kove usually plays bad guys, like Kreese in The Karate Kid, Nero the Hero in Death Race 2000, Ericson the helicopter pilot who dares screw over Rambo in Rambo: First Blood Part II and as the killer martial artist Mr. Lee in Shootfighter: Fight to the Death. It seems like he’s having so much fun here and wondering who would allow him to star in a movie as the hero.
How was this movie not made by Cannon?
The Kino Lorber blu ray of Steele Justice has a new audio commentary with Kove and director and writer Robert Boris, moderated by film historian Alex Van Dyne (manager of Hollywood’s first video store, Eddie Brandt’s Saturday Matinee) and a trailer. You can get it from Kino Lorber.