The DRAGON Roars Again in LIONSTRIKE.
by Timothy Baker
Halfway through the heart-thumping Don Wilson action thriller LIONSTRIKE, an incredulous mafia underboss surveys the bodies around him and asks JOHNNY WU “What kind of doctor are you?” After experiencing this latest entry from P.M. ENTERTAINMENT, you’ll know that Johnny Wu (Wilson) may single-handedly force Congress to pass a health care reform bill. He’s the deadliest M.D. since Hannibal Lecter, with the difference being that only the bad guys end up in the E.R.
In LIONSTRIKE, Wilson reprises his RING OF FIRE character, Johnny Wu, utilizing a winning combination of action and heart. Assisted by a strong supporting cast and sizzling on-screen chemistry with love interest Bobbie Phillips, Wilson has turned up the heat on his career both personally and professionally. With an influx of bucks from P.M. and the steady hand of director Rick Jacobson, Wilson has scored a knockout with his best and most expensive film to date.
After a jaw-dropping, JOHN woo-type opening sequence complete with exploding heliocopters and craniums, Johnny decides that a fishing trip in the country with his son BOBBY (played surprising well by real-life son Jonathan Wilson) is just the ticket to escape the dangers of the city. But the trout will have to wait, because Johnny has unwittingly taken a diskette that will give a consortium of Russian, Columbian, and Italian Mafia groups the ability to distribute stolen nuclear arms around the world. Johnny arrives in camp just in time to help sexy Park Ranger KELLY (Bobbie Phillips) dispatch a band of dangerous poachers. He invites her to dinner, and sparks fly, not just from their kiss but from the thousands of shells that the waiting Mafia soldiers pump into the cabin.
Favorite movie stills from Forced to Fight.
Johnny, Kelly, and Bobby barely escape and the chase is on through the beautiful California forest. The Russian assassin STIJKOFF (C. Nelson Morris) wants to stalk and kill Johnny outright but is restrained by Italian underboss VINNY (John Del Regno). Del Regno, who closely resembles Joe Pesci on angel dust, imbues his character with just enough viciousness not to be mistaken as a clown.
The countryside itself becomes an additional character in the movie and provides a good setting for the opposing forces. Also, martial arts coordinator ART CAMACHO and stunt choreographer PAT STATHAM deserve praise for their deft mix of explosions, car chases, gunfire, and hand-to-hand action which leads to the exciting finale.
Also, the story idea, conceived by Wilson and Camacho, is a timely one. The former Soviet Union is short of cash but awash with nuclear technology. U.s. Intelligence now suggests that North Korea may have a number of nuclear devices, and it would be reasonable to assume that many other countries, some friendly and some not so friendly, would like to have a few of their own. It is a chilling thought, and one can only hope there are a few Johnny Wu’s out there to stop it.
LIONSTRIKE interview with Don Wilson:
Q: The idea is a frightening one of organized crime selling nuclear arms Why did you choose it for LIONSTRIKE?
W: Actually, I got the idea from a cover story printed in TIME MAGAZINE. It was about the global mafia, and how the underworld of different nations are working together to sell every type of contraband. TIME touched on the fact that the Soviet Union is loaded with nuclear weapons that may find their way to the third world. It intrigued me and we incorporated it in the story.
Q: Don, you’ve completed sixteen movies but insist that LION STRIKE is your personal favorite. can you explain why?
W: While all my movies have a lot of action, LIONSTRIKE has the most heart. My son is in the picture, and when he is in jeopardy it seemed to bring something out in me. I couldn’t stand the thought of anything happening to him, and I think my love for him shows throughout the picture. It’s one thing to fight to protect yourself, but when your family is involved, the stakes are as high as you can get. There’s also a lot of humor in the show, and the stunts and special effects are levels above some of my previous films.
Q: The opening sequence was almost a movie in itself … exploding heliocopters, incredible gunplay, etc. Any problems with the stuntwork in that scene?
W: Not really. The crew was very professional and insisted on safety first. Guys were hanging off the roof firing away, glass blew out everywhere, I was fighting for my life, and none of us got a scratch. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.
Q: Your onscreen relationship with love interest Bobbie Phillips was the most natural we’ve seen from you yet. Where did you meet her?
W: I was at a Christmas party and Bobbie was there along with some of the top models in Hollywood. HBO was filming there that same night and I just happened to meet her. She read for the part and P.M. hired her. She’s very easy to work with and is an incredible actress.
Q: The budget of LIONSTRIKE must have been considerably higher than some of your earlier films.
W: No question. When your films become more successful, producers are willing to risk more for a better product. It makes it a lot easier when you can get the actors, fighters, and directors you want. LIONSTRIKE was shot quickly, but we were able to get a lot of coverage and better locations due to the higher budget.
Q: What’s next for Don Wilson?
W: Right now, I’m shooting a sci-fi thriller, GRIDRUNNER, for Ashok Amritraj. Ashok produced DOUBLE IMPACT with Van Damme and has been great to me. I’m also under contract with CONCORDE and P.M. to do one more film for each studio. After that, I plan to go fishing with my son.
Q: We’re sure you’ll hook a big one, Don. Thanks for your time.
W: My pleasure.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A former member of the JKA U.S. National Shotokan Karate Team, in 1982 Mr. Baker became the first American to win Tak Kubota’s IKA World Championships where over thirty foreign teams competed. Now an actor and writer living in Los Angeles, Baker has appeared in such films as NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER, BLOODFIST II, ANGEL OF DESTRUCTION, and many other
This news piece was released in 1994/95 when Tim Baker was the press agent for Don Wilson.