When people talk about good/bad movies they’re talking about films like Warrior of Justice (1995), the starring debut of wannabe action hero Jorgo Ognenovski.
Almost certainly in the same league as Ed Wood’s “classics” Glen or Glenda (1953) and Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959), it’s awesome for all the wrong reasons and it’s no surprise that Ognenovski failed in his bid to become the Macedonian Jean-Claude Van Damme.
In that most cliché of roles, he plays a Karate instructor called George Pendovsky who investigates the mysterious disappearance of one of his pupils. Of course he finds out it’s all to do with death matches organised for the amusement of wealthy and decadent spectators and he goes on a lone mission for justice.
Seeking the help of his own Sensei, called Doug, George intensifies his training (cue montage) and arms himself with a crossbow to turn vigilante and make an assault on the villain’s lair in the final act.
They don’t make them like this anymore, there’s a villain with an eye-patch, gratuitous nudity, a “love scene” played out against a cheesy ballad and a soundtrack of synthesizers and wailing guitars.
Also known as Invitation To Die and The Steel Ring, Warrior of Justice was co-written and co-directed by Ognenovski and has all the hallmarks of a vanity project. Not only does the star take his shirt off on several occasions but his pants too; his misguided sense of confidence evident as much in his “love” scenes as his fights.
From the opening credits in which Ognenovski demonstrates his moves against a black background to the training montage, Warrior of Justice sticks rigidly to the conventions of the genre. No cliché is left untouched. The fight choreography by Bill Ruysaki (the spelling on imdb is Ryusaki) and Ognenovski himself is routine at best, generally like watching rehearsal footage rather than convincing confrontations. But such an accusation can be weighed against many other low-budget action movies and it’s not Ognenovski’s lack of screen presence that makes this such a hoot.
The weakest part of the movie is not its fight choreography but it’s soundtrack. A significant amount of dialogue is inaudible and when you can hear it’s often terribly written. The score is also intrusive, with sound levels rising and falling throughout. It's formulaic, sleazy and often incoherent.
Much unintentional humour comes from the terrible script, but there’s plenty of amusement to be found elsewhere too. Richard Lynch is miscast as martial arts master Doug and villain Jorge Rivero has a two-minute “foreplay” scene that’s completely pointless.
But it’s Ognenovski who’s on screen for the best/worst moments. The most memorable being a) when he shakes his fist when a child is hurt, b) strips naked and wriths away on top of his female co-star in a dojo, c) exchanges his deadly crossbow for a garden rake during the climax and d) has a poorly staged climactic swordfight with Rivero.
Ognenovski has two other obscure credits as director and actor, Stalked (2000) and Black Hole (2002), but it’s hard to imagine that either of those titles would bring as much joy as this.
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