3 StarsChance O’Brien (Cooke) is considered the best fighter in the world and the only 100 hundred percent total human, in a futuristic death match. Set in the year 2019, a Olympics-style competition is taking place with the best warriors cybernetic engineering can produce. With market shares and reputations on the line each fighter battles for their corporate sponsor, and a $60 million cash prize. All that is except O’Brien, who has been coerced into the tournament by Tsui Tung, a reptilian-esque ring-leader and head of the event. Albert Pyun’s Heatseeker is a curious film, it has a stylized look with a compelling story, but it drags on for too long before it reaches the inevitable conclusion. I must admit the final fight between Xao and O’Brien, in which the human dismantles the cyborg warrior is clever and well handled. The score from frequent Pyun collaborator Tony Riparetti is intense and nearly non-stop, the music and the film may be heavy handed in some spots, but no more so than any other ‘fight tournament’ flick from this era.
Having grown up claiming that Cyborg and The Sword and the Sorcerer were among my favorite movies, I thought that I had seen the majority of Pyun’s work before the forgettable ‘rap star’ run. So it was with great surprise and much amusement that I settled in to watch this little gem. Headlined by Keith H. Cooke, a muscular and athletic leading man with the easy screen presence of the late- Brandon Lee, though Cooke is not nearly on Lee’s level as an actor. His physicality is put to good use against the equally intimidating Gary Daniels. To reference a couple of earlier Pyun films, Heatseeker is Blood Match infused with aspects of Nemesis. I liked those movies, but I like this one even more.
There’s a wicked sense of mischief that runs through the picture, exemplified by the smart ads for genetic manipulation from the fictional Sianon corporation. Tim Thomserson, a popular face in most of Pyun’s work, pops in here briefly and seems to be channeling a New Orleans accent while sporting Jim Carrey, Riddler-orange hair. It’s a loony portrayal from one master of b-movie cinema.
Director: Albert Pyun
Stars: Keith Cooke, Gary Daniels, Tina Cote