Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Blonde Fist (1991)

"What're you gonna do for a face when Jabba the Hut wants his arse back?"

Kirkby housewife Ronnie O'Dowd is the kind of woman who knows only one way to solve a problem; with her fists. However, when her problems mount up and the law catches up with her, it seems even she won't be able to fight her way out of this mess. Escaping Liverpool, she heads to New York in the hope of catching up with her estranged father, but soon finds a new set of problems to contend with. Can she use her fists to make ends meet in the land of the free?

Brother and sister team Frank and Margi Clarke scored a surprise hit in 1985 with Letter to Brezhnev which they respectively wrote and starred in. However lightning failed to strike twice for this 1991 follow up which marked brother Frank's directorial debut. Unfortunately, it's clear from this offering that he'd struggle to direct traffic and its unsurprising to learn it remains his only directing credit. The biggest issue is that when given the opportunity to film in New York, he makes his scenes there so nondescript, that they may as well have filmed it on the main street mock up at Granada Studios instead. The only flavour of America we get is from some B roll footage and the accompanying synthy, sub-Equalizer score from Dalek I Love You's Alan Gill. Given the lead role, Margi hardly fares any better with this opportunity either. Never the most subtle of performers she actually forgets to act here, opting to pose instead, so it's left to Hollywood legend Carroll Baker and solid character actor Ken Hutchison (Heathcliff in the BBC's 1970s version of Wuthering Heights, as well as Straw Dogs) to liven up the proceedings on the periphery as Margi's estranged drunk of a father and his plastic surgery-loving faded glamourpuss friend. There's also Frank and Margi's sister Angela providing amusing support as a rather dim but well meaning gaolbird.

Perhaps the key problems (aside from the limp direction and preening central performance) for Blonde Fist is the fact that the script and storyline is pretty weak and when the film attempts to tug at the heartstrings it doesn't sit easily with the broad comedy around it. It occasionally threatens to catch fire, but it inevitably disappoints, and takes far too long to offer up any boxing, which is surely a cardinal sin for any boxing movie. I recall watching this as a nipper back in the early '90s and although even then I knew it was a dud, I did think it might have stood the test of time better. I was wrong. It's just hard to care about anyone or anything and the 98 minutes go by at a very plodding pace.


  1. When I first saw that DVD cover, I thought it was Brigid Neilsen, not Margi Clarke.

    1. It's that hint of Rocky IV (sounds like a dodgy tie-in fragrance!)