Just recently I rewatched the movie Blind Fury – it’s been released/re-released on DVD by Madman, no (real) frills as such; just the movie on DVD, a chance to watch it if you’ve never seen it, a chance to stroll down memory lane if, as was the case for me, it was a favourite…
As soon as I started watching it – the weird pacing, the nearly plotless/certainly convoluted revenge/justice tale, a weird bounce to the soundtrack (a little bit They Live-esque in some odd way) – I was hooked.
It arrived at a time when people would say, with a straight face even, “this is actually one of Rutger Hauer’s best films”. At a time when that could even mean something. (Hey, it’s probably still the truth, but it would only be greeted with laughter today).
Blind Fury is the tale of Nick Parker, a blind swordsman who befriends the son of his old Vietnam War buddy and goes on a road-trip to find the missing father, to save what’s left of a family.
Blind Fury jarringly juxtaposes brutal action scenes – the boy’s mother is killed in front of him early on – with awkward comedy. Most of it revolves around silly, er, sight-gags, playing up Hauer’s character’s blindness.
The kid – Billy (played by Brandon Call, Wikipedia tells me this guy is the same age as me, he stopped acting in the mid-90s, though it’s questionable that he ever – really – started and was recently shot in both arms in a heated traffic dispute) – is annoying as hell. You wish he’d bought it, not his dead-eyed/weird-staring mother.
Billy hates Nick. At first. And then as the movie rolls along they of course become buddies. Out of nowhere Billy starts calling him “Uncle Nick”. And this never made any sense to me. Even when I first saw this film – back when it was released in 1990. I always thought that stuck out like a dog’s balls. Awkward dialogue, poorly scripted and the delivery is even worse. A small thing to be bugged by – still it gives me the shits. And as I rewatched this film just recently I anticipated it, the way you do a bad scratch on a favourite record.
My brother introduced me to Blind Fury. He had moved away from home to university in 1990. I had started high school. We were close, in the sense that we grew up in the same house and were each other’s only sibling. But the commonalities kinda ended there. And not through any animosity, or anyone’s fault. Just age. I was a kid. An annoying kid-brother. He was older. He still is of course, that’s how it works. But back then a five-year gap seemed like 10. Or 20. Now it seems like 2-3. As soon as he went to university – and gave me the space of the entire house, an only child in the domicile – we became closer. I was playing sport in adult teams, so I enjoyed a beer nearly as much as any first-year university student. I could at least keep up with some of my brother’s friends. So the school holidays saw movie nights and drinks and my brother was being turned onto horror and martial arts films – genres I was already across.
Every holiday he’d come home with new tapes and CDs and I’d learn about Lou Reed and The Doors and Led Zeppelin and Schnell-Fenster and The Who. And there’d be movies to rent on recommendation, so trips to the video-store would see cult horror flicks like Silent Night, Deadly Night or Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan films. And in there, somewhere, was Blind Fury.
As soon as I watched it, a screening with my brother and three of his friends and a couple of six-packs between us, it was mine. The movie became mine to share with my friends…I was the one introducing it – as if I had discovered it.
And across high school it was one of my favourites. I found – from the village’s local video store – a copy of the film’s (weird) poster. It plays up the comedy aspect, but at the same time doesn’t really sell it or give you any real indication of the film you’re about to see. I loved that poster. It cost $2. And I ripped the end of it when I removed the rubber band and had to tape it back into an acceptable shape before blu-tacking it to the wall.
He May Be Blind, But He Don’t Need No Dog.
Blind Fury has several great things about it – all of its strengths are weaknesses, which means that most of its weaknesses become strengths. As horrible as Billy is you can get a kick out of how horrible he is. The weird scenes become humourous though they were never meant to – the serious fight scenes are both quite good and laugh-out-loud funny…
Hauer has an odd demeanour in almost every film he’s in, some weird version of a sly grin, as if the script hasn’t quite been lost in translation but temporarily misplaced.
I reckon I watched Blind Fury 20 times. Maybe more. It was always so easy to watch. You knew what was going to happen and you could just sit back and enjoy it as Nick Parker smugly trotted out one-liners. And of course the more absurd it got the more you chose to believe in it – a blind guy driving the wrong way down a street. A blind guy driving. A blind guy winding the window down and as a crazed and frightened driver yells out, “are you blind?”, he calmly replies, “yes!”. Pauses. Smirk. Smirk. And scene.
It’s utterly ridiculous of course. And so often the very best of entertainment-art should be exactly that.