No Retreat, No Surrender takes a good portion of Karate Kid and mixes it up with Rocky – especially the fourth one – and manages to come up as a pretty fresh and entertaining competitive martial arts movie.
I always mistook the movie for Jean-Claude Van Damme’s vehicle, but instead he is seen portraying the role of a cocky baddie straight from USSR. The cold war aspect of the movie feels much, much more glued on than in Rocky IV, but in an 80s movie like this that’s just part of the fun, right?
The story itself concentrates on a young kid who practises karate and idolises Bruce Lee. After getting his ass handed to him by the bullies and running into clash with a syndicate and his father, he is visited by the spirit of Bruce Lee that teaches him the way of the Kung Fu.
The modern Bluray transfer reveals the shortcomings of the original film and the movie seems old beyond its years – not in a flattering way – so my recommendation is to hunt this one down as VHS instead.