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Firecracker (1981)
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by Brett Gallman

"The only thing that could make it more fun would be actual fireworks."
3 stars

I was on board with "Firecracker" about three minutes in; it was at that point that a guy with a bushy mustache impaled another guy with a spear in some sort of karate fight. Not that I really had any idea as to what was going on or anything. Nor did I particularly care, especially when Jillian Kenser strolled in after the credits sequence and thwarted a couple of fools trying to burglarize her hotel room--all while wearing lingerie. She even sported a mean DDT that would make Jake "The Snake" Roberts proud. What do any of these two awesome sequences have to do with each other? Well, in reality, no, actually--don't worry about it. Just know that it eventually involves underground pit fighting, drug trafficking, the mob, buzz saws, kung fu, and dirt bikes. Believe me, the plot that weaves all of this together is rather perfunctory.

At the center of it all is Kenser, who is either playing a pin-up model or a karate expert (or both). She's arrived in the Philippines to learn how to fight using sticks and search for her sister (in that order, I think). As a six level black belt, I believe that qualifies her to be the titular "firecracker." If you were an actress working for Roger Corman during the 70s and 80s, there was a good chance you'd end up disrobed and either beating the crap out of guys or running from a monster. Fortunately for Kenser, she gets to do a whole lot of the former (which is also fortunate for those who like breasts with their beatdowns).

She also gets mixed up with Chuck Donner (Darby Hinton), he of the opening-scene impalement fame. Sporting the mustache and the bachelor pad of a porn star, he fully intends to screw Kenser's character in more ways than one. Remarkably, she succumbs to his charms (it must have been the mirror above his bed) in a weird, awkward love scene that sees the two literally cut each other's clothes off with a knife. A sexual train wreck if there ever was one, especially when Kenser lovingly declares that she can feel the blood rushing inside of his head. Both heads, probably.

Anyway, since this involves an attractive girl looking for a missing family member, you can guess where it goes. At least the worn out destination involves cool fight sequences (one of which takes place on a ninja training compound straight out of a James Bond movie, apparently). This is another movie from minor schlock-master Cirio Santiago, and it fares well enough in that the decently choreographed martial arts sequences often pay off with someone being gutted.

"Firecracker" has likely been largely unseen since it populated VHS dustbins years ago, but Shout Factory has restored it for their "Lethal Ladies" collection. No extra features are to be found, besides a trailer, but the pristine anamorphic widescreen transfer and clear soundtrack make is sizzle for its digital debut.

Between all of the eye-gouging, snake-fighting, upskirt shots, and the soundtrack (which sounds like it could be ripped from an 8-bit Nintendo game), I would have probably flipped out over "Firecracker" as a 9 year old.

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originally posted: 11/04/11 06:46:35
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User Comments

9/13/12 Matthew Thompson Dalldorf Kung fu-camp classic! This is what 'T.N.T Jackson' wanted to be! 4 stars
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  01-May-1981 (R)
  DVD: 25-Oct-2011


  17-Sep-1981 (R)

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