If you’ve been holding onto your VHS, it’s time to gently set that aside and make the upgrade, which is worth every penny.
Synopsis: Steele is ex-cop and Vietnam vet who is determined to bring down Kwan, former South Vietnamese general and now rich and powerful drug lord.
Review: Martin Kove’s answer to Rambo has him playing a badass Nam vet named John Steele. In Nam, Steele crossed paths with a Viet Cong general (Soon-Tek Oh) who was given asylum by the U.S. Years later, Steele is a burnout cop, whose best friend and partner, Lee (Robert Kim) is killed by a drug cartel, run by Oh, who has used his political influence to gain power on the streets. The general has a cadre of rough and ready bodyguards and “yes men,” some of whom are played by action film’s greatest Asian actors and stuntmen (Al Leong and Peter Kwong among them). Ronny Cox plays Steele’s boss, who understandably can’t keep a leash around his officer, but it’s amazing that no one has the balls to fire Steele because he’s out of control! Steele arms himself with all sorts of guns and artillery (and a pet snake!), and in the film’s best scene he shoots his gorgeous wife (Sela Ward) at point blank range for getting in his way (turns out, it was part of his plan).
Steele Justice belongs on a short list of insane action films. Other films on the list might include Stone Cold, Invasion USA, On Deadly Ground, Tango and Cash, and Death Wish 3. People like John Steele only exist in action films from the 1980’s and early 1990’s. That’s a good thing. Cove is fun in a role he must have enjoyed playing. The Vietnam scenes are goofy and almost slapstick. Just before he kills someone, he says his tagline, “Good morning!” Robert Boris was the director.
Long unavailable on the digital format, Steele Justice is finally making its debut on disc next month, courtesy of Kino Lorber. The movie has simply never looked as good as it does in its original aspect ratio (1:85:1), in crisp, filmic textures, and the picture quality is outstanding. The sound is fabulous, and the package itself is excellent. If you’ve been holding onto your VHS, it’s time to gently set that aside and make the upgrade, which is worth every penny. It would have been awesome if they’d gotten Martin Kove for an audio commentary, but sadly that wasn’t meant to be.