CANNON MONTH 2: Desert Kickboxer (1992)

Joe Highhawk has the most 1992 name ever as well as the most direct to video career path: he’s a cop who is also a kickboxer. He’s played by John Newton, who was Superboy on the syndicated series. But then his rage takes things past the limit and he kills a man in the ring. He quits his big city job, he leaves behind kicking people to death and heads out into the desert of his youth, where he lives in his grandfather’s trailer on a reservation and serves as a deputy to Sheriff Larry (Biff Manard).

Meanwhile, an accountant named Claudia Valenti (Judie Aronson, American Ninja) notices that the books of her horse breeder client Carl Schultz (Paul Smith!) are off. One of the trainers helps her and her little brother Anthony (Sam DeFrancisco) get away. Also, she now has $20 million into a secret account, which enrages her boss, who is really a drug dealer named Santos.

Of course Joe helps them. Of course they hook up. Of course Santos and his men break that up, take Claudia and leave Joe for dead. But then we get what makes this movie so unique, as not only do Santos and his gang kill the little brother, but Joe has a phoenix — or hawk? — rise from near-death set to a montage as shirtless Joe comes back alive in the desert. Joe returns to decimate henchman Bruno (Michael M. Foley) and Santos pays. And by pays, I mean he gets kicked directly in the dick.

Director and writer Isaac Florentine would go on to make Undisputed 2Ninja and work on the WMAC Masters show, just like nearly everyone that was involved in 90s non-Asian martial arts direct to video movies.

The tagline is “Navajo… Warrior… Kickboxer. Cross the line of his law and you’ll live… to regret it.” It’s also a movie where a white guy plays a Native American and the Navajo are said to do the Ghost Dance and yet they never did it.

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