Blind Fury is a fun little chunk of 1980s action cheese about a blind Vietnam War vet played by Rutger Hauer who fights with a sword hidden in his cane to protect a bratty kid from gangsters. The film is a weird grab-bag of R-rated violence, cornball comedy and the occasional stab at melodrama. Overall, it’s 25% intentionally silly, 25% unintentionally silly, and 50% actually pretty cool. You won’t always be sure whether you’re laughing at the film or with it, and it doesn’t really matter.
One cannot mention Blind Fury without addressing the fact that it shamelessly rips off Zatoichi, the hero of a series of Japanese action films from the 1960s about a swordfighting blind masseuse in the Edo era. Those films are worth looking up as well, particularly Beat Takeshi’s blood-drenched 2003 revival. While Blind Fury might have imitation “krab meat” in its California roll, it’s tasty just the same.
Three reasons to watch:
- Rutger Hauer: The film rests comfortably on the strong Dutch shoulders of its lead. Rutger is really at the height of his hauer in this one, playing a character who is pretty dorky and unassuming when he’s not slashing people’s heads off. He’s got the charm to nail the comedy, the muscle to pull off the action, and the gravity to lend some credibility to the drama.
- The Action: While the fight choreography definitely shows its age, the film manages to pack in quite a few entertaining and inventive action sequences. Its biggest strength is finding plausible ways to make a blind swordsman get an edge over a bunch of gun-toting goons without making your eyes roll out of their sockets.
- The Drama: As a road movie centered on the rocky relationship between an imperiled kid and a tough father figure, the film is basically Dutch with decapitations, or maybe a neo-samurai Road to Perdition. In spite of its ridiculous premise, the film plays its drama sequences fairly straight. The Bicycle Thief it ain’t, but it can be surprisingly effective.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you about:
- The Drama: That said, if you’re going into this film expecting a wacky romp of pure absurdity, you might be taken off guard by more than a few attempts to give the film a heart. For that reason, people in the mood for a breezier, sillier evening would probably be better served by one of my straight film wrecks.