In between playing supporting roles in movies like THE GRANDMASTER, Cung Le found the time to build on his solo career in the direct-to-video realm. Disappointingly, his sophomore effort here leaves a good deal to be desired. While the previous DRAGON EYES filled his prospects as a karate star with promise, PUNCTURE is a less impressive action flick that's mainly weakened by the ravages of producers and certainly leaves Le looking less extraordinary. It's still a decent film that's strengthened by its fight content, but a bit too far from perfect to warrant a purchase for me.
The story: The family of a war veteran (Le) is murdered by a racist underground faction after he interferes with their business, prompting him to target the group and its leader (Dolph Lundgren) for retribution.
I don't blame the stars or even the director (Giorgio Serafini) for the movie's DTV-isms. The production company behind the film, Voltage Pictures, has a habit of editing its low budget movies in amateurish ways, so expect to see lots of gratuitous slow motion and sped-up segments, "artistic" lighting overexposures, unnecessary close-ups, and scene-hopping. These aspects are present just enough to properly irritate you but not ruin the movie, to the same degree that the screenplay bothers me. There's a good deal of unnecessary cruelty and exploitation of women that I don't appreciate. While that was bad enough, I find it just as hard to forgive how boring the script renders Dolph Lundgren. The Swedish Superman excels at playing villains, and though it seems like the part of the long-haired supremacist leader would let him show off some of his creepiness, he clearly doesn't have good character material to work with and ends up being pretty unmemorable.
Cung Le shows his rather meager dramatic limits, though he still makes a good tough guy. Another tough guy, Vinnie Jones, plays a character that weirdly has the bare minimum to do with the plot but manages through sheer charisma to still come off cool. But actions speak louder than words in these kinds of movies, and this is where PUNCTURE WOUNDS shows its best side. With only four fight scenes and one shootout, the movie could definitely use more action, though Cung Le's kicks are worth waiting for. The choreography manages to appear completely efficient without shirking flashiness, so it's very satisfying when Le takes on groups of bad guys. His finale with Lundgren is much shorter than it should be, but it allows Lundgren to look pretty fluid and powerful, using his height, reach, and power karate to take the fight to Le, cool but believably.
The fights too are hampered by the aforementioned editing, so despite being the movie's brightest spot, they can't elevate this review to a higher rating. Despite this one being a minor disappointment, I'm hopeful for Le's future, provided he choose a better studio for his next vehicle. Bottom line: if you're looking for an imperfect but moderately exciting karate-revenge movie, this one fits the bill well enough, but it's not nearly the best any of its performers have to offer.