1 StarThe first ten minutes of Albert Pyun’s karate/spy/sports movie mash-up, Spitfire is a sly homage to the Sean Connery 007 features of the 1960s. Lance Henriksen plays a British Intelligence Agent bedding a gorgeous woman who is a former lover. As the two are about to consummate their love a team of assassins burst through the bedroom door and open fire, wounding the spy and killing his lady, but not before she tells him of their secret love child, now a 20yr. old woman. Karate black belt and World Class gymnast Kristie Phillips is the aforementioned offspring named Charlie Case.
Case is competing in a gymnastic event when we first meet her, and the offish sports reporter (Thomerson) covering the gig. There is a bit of foul play between the Romanian squad and their attempts at derailing Charlie from winning. On top of this conspiracy the young girl has been targeted by assassins, looking for a precious McGuffin, handed off to her by her father. This leads to a seemingly endless series of chases through some exotic locations but after a few minutes of this stuff, a little goes a long way.
This is the biggest merging of combat and gymnastics since Kurt Thomas graced the screen in the underwhelming but spectacularly titled, Gymkata. The title sequence is a grin-inducing rip-off of Maurice Binder’s more refined work on the Bond pictures and it’s always fun to watch the hard-working Tim Thomerson elevate this stuff. Thomerson is the Harrison Ford of B-Movies, constantly solid and reliable. Knowledgeable viewers will recognize the presence of Chad Stahelski, former Keanu Reeves stunt double and founding member of the terrific 87Eleven stunt team.
Spitfire really shits the bed when it comes to the casting of lead Kristie Phillips, she lack any sort of screen presence and her line readings are headache inducing. I imagine that the sole purpose of the film was to cash in on the (then forthcoming) 1996 Summer Olympic Games, by showcasing a former Olympic hopeful in a gaudy B-movie. Thankfully Phillips acting career was extremely short-lived, she was never again seen starring in a movie. If only Pyun had edited out her scenes and left in the playful stuff with Henriksen, Thomerson and Sara Douglas, he may of really had something here.
Director: Albert Pyun
Stars: Lance Henriksen, Tim Thomerson, Kristie Phillips