Synopsis: When female karate champion Susanne Carter (Jillian Kesner) goes to the Philippines to look for her sister who has disappeared, she stumbles upon a drug cartel and a tournament of no-holds-barred fights to the death in the action-packed Firecracker. Directed by genre specialist Cirio H. Santiago (TNT Jackson) and costarring Vic Diaz (The Big Bird Cage) and Darby Hilton (Malibu Express).
LOL! Here”s another winner from my martial arts exploitation set! (T.N.T. Jackson is part of the deal, but I’ve already commented on it previously so you will all be spared the pain. )
‘Firecracker’ is about a karate expert from L.A. going to the Philippines, looking for her missing sister. In so doing, she finds herself thrown into a gritty underworld of underground martial arts competition and drug dealings.
The story is nothing worth mentioning: everything one might expect from this sort of thing is delivered with 100% staleness. The writers obviously had no imagination and most of the dialogue is clichéd and lacks wit. I don’t know how they managed to think that they were being clever in recycling old, tired one-liners, but there you have it.
Here are prime examples of why:
-The acting was obviously not top-notch, being a low-budget b-grade movie. One has to expect that. Nonetheless, one character, a hulking bartender that our lead befriends early on, was SO gawd-awful that I couldn’t help but giggle every time he shouted his lines uncontrollably. He had two settings: silent and deadly.
-All the sound effects were noticeably canned (including “live” elements such as crowds clapping, …etc), which leads me to conclude that they may have filmed ‘Firecracker’ without mics and then just recorded all the sound after the fact – which is an old school way of doing things. Perhaps this was the most inexpensive way to do it. The martial arts sequences were especially amusing, with all the whooshes and hits exaggerated like mad!
There are even scenes that are so outrageously moronic that it’s impossible to keep one’s composure. Such as:
-Susanne has an upsetting visit at the morgue. She goes in during the daytime, but then runs out of there mere minutes later and it’s nighttime! And it’s suddenly raining, no less! Pfft! To make matters worse, she runs to the requisite love interest’s place, which appears to be a one-room house, since the main door goes straight to his bedroom. Hah! Then she asks him to hold her, which he does very awkwardly, and a cat
is thrown jumps onto the dresser breaking the mirror AND startling them. It’s black. This is called an omen. Maybe even a double omen. Dom dom dom! So, of course, what do they do? They decide to get funky. He takes her to his bed (probably because it’s the only piece of furniture in the house/room!) and then proceeds to cut all of her clothes off with a knife – because, of course, nothing is more romantic than destroying your lover’s clothes so that she will be forced to walk to back home naked. Hahaha! She returns the favour by cutting one of the legs on his pants and then they make the sweet lovin’! HILARIOUS!
-There’s a fight scene where Susanne is chased into a desolate industrial area. Firstly, these were a couple of cheap hoods, which, presumably, she could easily have beaten up – being a black belt and running her own dojo back home. And yet she runs. In doing so, her dress gets caught on a fence and she tears a piece of it off. Can you see this one coming? Obviously, her dress then gets torn off during a fight. And, of course, one of the guys corners her and cuts her bra off. It’s so preposterously stupid that I lost it! So there she is, fighting naked for no apparent reason – and in high heels, no less (which, thankfully, she tosses after a while). I mean, it’s bad enough that the guys never catch up to her, even though she’s running flimsily in those shoes – but the naked fighting…? I mean, really! It’s UNREAL!
Also TOO funny: some of the action scenes start and stop abruptly, for no apparent reason. Case-in-point:
-At the very beginning, robbers go into Susanne’s hotel room while she’s in it (they were watching her comings and goings so they should have known she was there! ). As she walks out of the bathroom, she startles them and proceeds to hand them their @$$es – and even throws one of them out the window. But it ends there; there are no consequences, no cops, no hotel inspector, nothing. It just ends after the guy flies out the window and cuts to the next, totally unrelated scene.
-Susanne decides to go spy on the drug lord. From her location, she couldn’t possibly see any of what we saw on-screen – and yet, she was satisfied enough with her trip to go within minutes. As she starts to leave on her motorcycle, the drug lord’s girlfriend happens to pass by there in her car. A necessary chase ensues. Why was the girlfriend there? Who knows! But the chase stops about two seconds later when, for no reason whatsoever, Susanne goes driving off the road and falls limply on the side of the road. It’s so hideously inexplicable, that you can’t help but laugh at that one.
-Susanne goes into a bar to get some information from the bartender. Out of nowhere, a bunch of Filipinos mob him and a barroom fight ensues. Why? God only knows. Then, for some unknown reason, the scene is over and Susanne, the bartender and a new friend (who helped them during the brawl), are talking together in some back office. At least we got to see them work together as a team, but what the H-E double-hockey sticks was that?
Jillian Kesner did a credible job of portraying Susanne. At least, she did at first – at that point one could easily believe that she’d kick almost anybody’s butt. As the film progressed, however, she became less and less convincing. By the final battle, she was so wimpy and weak that I couldn’t believe a bit of it – thereby deflating the whole “climax” of the movie.
There were even moments where she was obviously replaced by a stunt person: in the bar-room fight, for instance, someone (man? woman?) does flips onto a game table and then jumps off-screen, only for Kesner to return on-screen. It was so obvious and crazy-funny because the stunt person always kept his/her face hidden in a bad wig that barely looked like Susanne’s real hair.
Still, despite the tons of unintentional laughs (which are reflected in my rating, I should note), I was terribly bored and was happy to see the picture wrap up. It’s relatively short, but it dragged on for far too long for me – likely due to the fact that it was all déjà-vu, and had been done much much better.
Would I even recommend it as a so-bad-it’s-good film? Maybe only to individuals who really crave this sort of schlocky crap. Otherwise, steer clear at all costs; this so-called firecracker is nothing but a wet pétard.