Although I knew this rather wild film as Tiger Shark back in the 80’s, Blastfighter is probably the better option as a description; we’re talking about a big man, an even bigger gun and instant justice. Lamberto Bava’s film is a hybrid of various other movies; think First Blood’s one man against a backwoods town stramash, with elements of Straw Dogs and Deliverance mixed in, with the emphasis on survivalist action, kicking ass and taking names.
Jake ‘Tiger’ Sharp (Michael Sopkiw) is our hero here, an ex-cop whose been rotting in the slammer after justifiably revenging himself on those who killed his wife. On his exit from the stripy hole, he’s given a SPAS-12 shotgun that he’s expected to use to nail the crooked legal team who unjustly sent him to jail. But Jake ‘Tiger’ Sharp is a fundamentally peaceful, decent man, and instead he shyly takes his mega-weapon off to the Appalachian hills to seek some solace and me-time. That mental peace proves somewhat elusive as his grown-up daughter Connie (Valentina Forte) turns up, and various nefarious hillbilly types soon take an interest. Tiger moves quickly to protect Connie, putting him on a collision course with Tom (George Eastman) and his team of animal poachers…
Blastfighter features the classic 80’s trope of a peaceful man who just can’t stop killing, and rather than labour any moral angle, it’s all action fare, particularly once Tiger picks up his shotgun, which fires smoke-bombs, grenades and anything else the script requires to create bang for your buck. The music here is great, with Guido & Maurizio De Angelis contributing a throbbing techno score that’s begging for darkwave remixes. There’s also some abrupt gear-shifting to allow for a cover of a Kenny Rogers hit Evening Star, which was originally written by the Bee Gees; we hear this three times, and it’s possible that Blastfighter’s original inaccessibility was due to copyright issues over the years.
Blastfighter is sold on the promise of big-gun bang-bang action rather than risable dubbing, but it’s Tiger himself who proves the big attraction, a one-man jukebox of tough guy sentiment’ ‘You want to know who I am? I’m a son of a b*tch who just wants to be left alone!’ he demurs, and Bava does well to keep a constant stream of hapless yokels to feel the extreme pain of crossing the Blastfighter. This is a cheesy slab of late-night fun that skips most of the exploitation elements you’d expect and delivers healthy outdoor carnage by the shedload. Ready to fight? Let’s get blasting!