The cover for 90s fight flick Dragon Fire features several quotes of praise for the movie from the action community, one of which says "Forget Jean Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal! Dominic La Banca would tear them to shreds!"
Quite whether they made this judgment based on what they saw in this movie is unclear, what is clear is that aside from the capability to do a decent roundhouse there was nothing unique about La Banca onscreen that led him to challenge either of these two Hollywood heavyweights.
In his defense, La Banca (aka Dominick LaBanca) says “The first fight scene dislocated my clavicle bone and crushed my shoulder joint, I was only at 10% of my ability! I finished the entire shoot even though I needed immediate surgery. I promise you the pain was excruciating.”
La Banca and his mullet burst onto video store shelves in 1993, in what fans soon discovered was nothing more than a sci-fi reworking of Don Wilson’s Bloodfist (1989). Actually one of two remakes (the other was Full Contact) of that film in the same year by director Rick Jacobson! Even more absurdly, Dragon Fire would ultimately be remade as an official remake (titled Bloodfist 2050) in 2005. The man behind all these films is B-movie king Roger Corman!
In all versions of the story a guy comes looking for his brother, discovers he’s been murdered, goes in search of the killer, enters world of underground fighting to do this, falls in love with a stripper and faces the killer at the climax. The simplistic narrative enlivened by alternating fight sequences and gratuitous strip club sequences. In the Dragon Fire version La Banca is the hero and Jim Wynorski makes a cameo as master of ceremonies at the stripclub. Not much is notable.
Of course it's not hard to see why Corman's New Concorde outfit would be keen to put LaBanca in a lead role. Like Don Wilson, he could have been the lead in a huge number of Corman cheapies. With his youth, kicking skills and Italian-American good looks he could have been the next big thing. Or at least the next Ken Wahl or Michael Dudikoff. He wasn’t either and Dragon Fire was not only his sole leading role but his only acting credit for many years.
Over a decade passed before La Banca returned to movies, playing supporting roles in a handful of action movies with even lower budgets than Corman’s films. These include Street Survival (2006) and Director (2008), on which he was also Stunt Coordinator. There have also been TV projects such as Kings of South Beach (2007).
“I was out of the movie industry for nearly 10 years after Dragon Fire because of personal reasons." says La Banca. "I'm 40, I'm back, and move better than ever. I'm versed in many styles of martial arts and waiting for the opportunity to be seen in future films.”
La Banca can also be found on Myspace, Facebook and YouTube.