Talons of the Eagle (1992)

Billy Blanks and Jalal Merhi star with Matthias Hues in a DTV martial arts action-fest. Hollywood DVD UK R0 DVD

The Film

Tyler Wilson (Billy Blanks) is a New York DEA agent sent up to Toronto to join local agent Michael Reed (Jalal Merhi), they are trying to infiltrate the organisation of Mr Li, believed to be smuggling cocaine into the US - the best way in is to prove themselves in a tournament so the pair are sent to train with Master Pan. Having proven themselves they are hired by Mr Li to run security, but learn that his 'girlfriend' is another DEA agent who might have defected...

Written by J. Stephen Maunder who also penned producer and star Jalal Merhi's Tiger Claws (1991), Talons of the Eagle is a straight forward but thoroughly enjoyable martial arts film that starts off at speed, showing us both lead characters doing their policework day jobs, then giving us their introduction to each other while involved in a car chase and really never letting up. The storyline is basic but gets the job done and keeps the film moving at a fair pace - importantly all of the action scenes are relevant to the storyline and it successfully treads the fine line between serious and cheesily comic. It builds to a lengthy and very dramatic action packed finalé and a neat denoument.

Although not an experienced action movie director, Michael Kennedy (who previously wrote and directed Lorenzo Lamas actioner The Swordsman (1992)) does some fine work here, the action scenes have plenty of energy without being over-edited and he does some provide some creative direction, particularly in the rooftop combat climax. The soundtrack is a typically generic straight to video score that works well although there is a wonderfully cheesy closing credits track that sums up the film perfectly.

Jalal Merhi and Billy Blanks work particularly well together and really know their stuff when it comes to the fight scenes, although fortunately neither are called on for any difficult acting. Matthias Hues has an excellent menace as Mr Li's bodyguard (and gets the highlight fight scene, a lengthy parking lot brawl with Billy Blanks towards the finalé). Martial arts legend Master Pan Quing Fu is amusingly credited as himself, getting some good training and fight scenes and taking Blanks to school in one scene, while film and TV veteran James Hong brings some real gravitas as Mr Li. The rest of the cast are solid and the martial arts extras are all clearly experienced and move and fight authentically.

Talons of the Eagle is everything you want from a straight to video martial arts thriller - lots of action scenes without the over-editing of modern films, two leads with some great chemistry, a solid supporting cast, a little bit of blood and nudity and a storyline that keeps the pace solid for 90 minutes without trying to over-complicate or delve into subplots. If you like '90s DTV actioners, then this is one for you.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? Billy Blanks - creator of the Tae-bo workout, he starred in a selection of DTV actioners in the early 90s.
James Hong - an American born actor with some 500 films to his credit, including Blade Runner (1982)
Directed by anyone interesting? Michael Kennedy - a Canadian director who worked on a few budget action films, including Red Scorpion 2 (1994) before moving into television with over 100 episodes of, mostly Canadian productions, to his name.
Any gore or violence ? Numerous bloody scenes, although no gore.
Any sex or nudity? A few short topless and sex scenes.
Who is it for? Fans of 90s DTV action films will certainly enjoy this.
Visuals Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 fullscreen. Colour
Picture is very good VHS quality - night scenes are pretty clear.
Shot for video premier so the aspect ratio seems correct
Audio English stereo - sounds fine.
Subtitles None.
Extras The disc includes:
  • Original trailer
Region Region 0 (ALL) - PAL
Other regions? Available from 20th Century Fox on DVD in the US
Cuts? Believed to be fully uncut. Print language is English.



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 11th November 2014.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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