“You don’t recruit John Steele. You unleash him.” I’ll let the awesomeness of that tagline sink in for a moment.
There are good action films. There are bad action films. And there are action films so ridiculous that after a while you realize you are watching it solely for the spectacle of it all and laughing the whole time. Steele Justice falls into this third category, where a Vietnam vet with a wooden face played by Martin “Sweep the Leg” Kove of Karate Kid fame must take on the Vietnamese mafia in California after they kill his best friend and old army buddy.
This movie has everything: Martin Kove wearing camouflage that looks like a little kid skull face paint from a state fair (if he had said “I like turtles,” I would have lost it), Vietnamese people training with Japanese swords and armor just to show how Asian they are to the audience, the ultimate villain wearing a mumu, everything. There’s even an ’80s training montage of Kove wearing only baby blue running shorts on the beach! Man, if only someone had run out and hugged him like it was Rocky III!
Yes, it’s laughably bad. But at the same time, it does feature the likes of Ronny Cox, Bernie Casey, Peter Kwong, and the always beloved Al Leong. This is not a Schwarzenegger or Stallone level of action film. This is something you compare to Brian Bosworth in Stone Cold…and declare Bosworth the better actor. But it’s still entertaining.