BLIND FURY. Gem of a movie
If there were a plebiscite for the most popular actor of the VHS era, I’m sure Rutger Hauer would rank very high, very high indeed. Despite a brilliant start in the USA (of course!), the Dutch actor didn’t have the luck to have the career he deserved. But he didn’t care much about that, and even though he didn’t reign over Hollywood’s red carpets, he certainly shone in the VHS era. From memory: The Hitcher, Wedlock, Split Second, Past Midnight, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Surviving the Game, The Blood of Heroes and Arctic Blue.
Yes, Hauer is a true legend. Apart from the brilliant The Hitcher and the quintessential ’80s movie Split Second, my favorite film of this perpetually smiling gentleman will always be Blind Fury.
The initial motif of Blind Fury is, of course, borrowed from the legendary Zatoichi film series, elegantly adapted to an American style. The Vietnam War, a soldier wounded in action loses his sight, Vietnamese villagers find him and help first in healing his wounds, then in training – a beautifully shot prologue. Cut to twenty years later, Florida – Hauer, wanting to visit an old friend, stumbles into the midst of a kidnapping attempt, murder, and a big drug deal. All of this is sprinkled with a high-level family drama (okay, I’m joking – it’s drama like in Dynasty on steroids) and a dose of solid sword-fighting scenes (seriously) – in short, an hour and a half of entertainment on a good VHS level. Despite a decent supporting cast (Terry O’Quinn, Nick Cassavetes), the film is, of course, a one-man show. Rutger, as always, is amazing, and the ironic remarks of the blind sword master in his performance are a small masterpiece. I mentioned the duels; well, they are of really good quality. It’s fast (for American standards), sharp, and without unnecessary embellishments – whoever tries to trick Rutger gets a nasty surprise, there’s no other way.
Hauer handles the sword really skillfully, and most importantly, it doesn’t look like just an actor who prepared for the movie for a week and during action scenes goes through choreography, muttering the order of movements under his breath. For dessert, we get the final sword fight with none other than the true legend of American ninja stealth, the “master” Sho Kosugi. I think every veteran of this era has seen at least one episode from the unofficial Ninja trilogy with his participation. Not only did he act here, but he also choreographed the fights in the entire film, which are quite delicious.
So Rutger is slicing with the sword, throwing a good line every now and then, and generally having a blast. Since it’s the colorful ’80s, certain unwritten rules must be followed. Therefore, Blind Fury can’t do without the classic “montage” (quite good and atmospheric), a fierce brawl with the final boss and his henchmen – if he’s “loaded,” then he must have his villa-fortress besieged by a horde of nameless bodyguards and mercenaries, and at least one scene with some random or less random rednecks.
Exactly, in practically every movie of this era, when the action goes beyond the outskirts of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles (here, American cities basically end), there are always some hicks, county mercenaries (most often seasoned in battle in Vietnam, oh yeah), who, for a pack of Lucky Strikes and a bottle of good old bourbon, are ready to die. Of course, always in full uniform: jeans, flannel, heads protected by baseball caps, or maybe stylish trucker hats. I wonder where they come from; there are always some bar patrons, sipping 0.5% Budweisers, who have to go out to meet their destiny and willingly damage their internal organs with a vicious brawl. If you were to visit some post-communist village and ask a few ex-tractor drivers, veterans of merciless plowing, if they would be willing to participate in some brawl, you would most likely hear that they’re too busy, the old lady holds the keys to their car, and don’t bother them with this nonsense because they’re finishing their beer.
Quite fortunately, in the USA, it’s not a problem; people there are a bit crazy, so there are volunteers to go under the knife to the delight of the masses. It’s no different here, so the bodies pile up, and many a redneck will never return to their Mary-Lou. Okay, enough of this praise – now you know what kind of gem Blind Fury is. A true classic – buy it, lose it, rent it!