Monday, April 20, 2009


The Action Mutant…
thinks 12 Rounds isn’t enough.

Honor (2006)

review by Joe Burrows

Note: This review is brought to you by Fighting, which is what this film should have been called. Seriously, Terrence Howard will sign his name to…almost anything. Luis Guzman? He will sign his name to anything.

The Plot, as it was:
Jason Barry is Gabriel, a Gulf War vet who comes home to find things totally different & not for the better. His childhood friend Ray (Russell Wong) has just gotten out of the clink & is bent on taking over the old neighborhood with a trusted gang of thugs. As a soldier who’s seen some things and done some stuff, the last thing Gabriel wants to do is get involved in another (albeit different) type of war. Gabriel seems reluctantly content with letting Ray and his gang extort money from local patrons but when they start hassling his adopted father & former police officer LT (Roddy Piper!) and tough cop/budding love interest Kate (Linda Park)…well, the shit is on!

Don’t shoot me…I’m only the reviewer!:
If you turn Honor on about midway through and expect Van Damme or Don “The Dragon” Wilson to walk on the screen, you probably aren’t the only one. Honor is a flick fully entrenched in the “street fighting” sub genre of Action & doesn’t apologize for it. In fact, the only thing that may distinguish it from the majority of other fight films is the inundation of many MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) personalities such as Masakatsu Funaki, Don Frye and two Gracies (the Gracies are like the Wayans family of MMA; as in sheer numbers & not necessarily in talent). As far as anything new in the tried & true formula, that’s pretty much it. Despite all of the MMA talent on display, the fights are filmed with such quick edits & tight focusing that there’s very little visceral impact. It’s understandable that this is most likely done to make the viewer feel like they’re “right in the action” & it’s a novel idea but it just comes off very clumsily. And though one doesn’t watch these flicks for the acting…well, that doesn’t work well here either. If Barry had a moniker for his acting style, it would be “Master of the Clenched Jaw” for as much brooding he does. He basically is called to look sullen, whisper his lines, look morose, occasionally yell his lines, (have the stunt double) do some fighting and look dour. The guy just comes off too clean to be someone that supposedly just came back from war torn hell. In the same respect, it’s hard to buy Wong as a badass gangland demigod. I didn’t laugh at him or anything but his mere presence doesn’t seem to be the type to strike enough fear into people to make them hand over their business earnings. Like two pro wrestlers who try to sell their hatred toward each other for the crowd, you never buy that these two used to run together or anything (and the flashback scenes? No help). The subplot with Kate taking a shine to Gabriel is even worse as it basically boils down to her thinking “I know nothing about the guy…he is hot, though.” Shockingly, the one that gives the best show of everyone here is…Roddy Piper! No, he’s not DeNiro or anything and his character does kind of come off like Uncle Ben Parker at times but his downplay act does offer a few genuine moments. Piper resembles less of a cardboard cutout than the other principles involved, which admittedly make the scenes where he finally gets to kick some ass (but not chew bubblegum) all the more fun. By that time though, you might have already switched over to Spike to watch MMA fighters used in a more appropriate (and much better) setting.

Body Count/Violence: 7. Well, there is a lot of fighting, I’ll give them that. Plenty of kicking and punching with some decent blood splatter on connecting blows. Also peppered in is some shooting, a sick, Seagal-esque arm break, weapon beatdowns, neck breaking, knife play, etc. And fighting.

Sexuality/Nudity: None.

Language/Dialogue: Strong but only on occasion. My favorite one off moment in the flick is when Roddy slams a guy up against a wall, leg trips him, flips him off & spits out a “Fuck you!” Don’t ask me why but it put a smile on me face.

How bad was it?:
Being a DtV release (see below), Honor didn’t get many reviews upon its debut or since then. The lone review I found puts it as pretty bad but still kind of praises it as a guilty pleasure. Fan feedback seems to skew between those who enjoy the “street fight” type films of the late 80s & early 90s and those who don’t.

Did it make the studio’s day?:
Birch Tree Entertainment & Monterrey Media released Honor worldwide and on U.S. DVD respectively. Made on a $6 million budget, Honor was released in America on 7/29/06 (I’m guessing for a small theater premiere, as I don’t believe it had any legit widespread release). It was released on DVD on 2/27/07 and can be seen on Starz or Encore Action occasionally.

Film: *1/2/*****
Entertainment value: ***1/2/*****

Copyright 2009 The Action Mutant.

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