Blastfighter (1984)

2.5 out of 5

Apparently, when Tomas Milian read David Morrell's novel First Blood he was enthused enough to try and encourage Italian producers to make it into a movie. That movie was never made but nevertheless Milian did use the name of the character for the crime film Syndicate Sadists which is sometimes known as Rambo's Revenge.

The themes of Blastfighter are pretty much that of First Blood from which it borrows quite heavily with occasional nods in the direction of Deliverance. Even down to the casting of Billy Redden, the Deliverance banjo player, in a brief cameo role.

Featuring George Eastman, and one of of only four roles for star Michael Sopkiw, Blastfighter was originally to be a science fiction movie as is hinted at in the original artwork. Initially it was be directed by Lucio Fulci who instead decided to work on The New Gladiators. Blastfighter is only one of a number of Italian films that deal with the First Blood theme. Thunder, starring the awkward Mark Gregory, is another. Probably the most interesting though is Antonio Margheriti's Apocalypse domani, that itself pre-dates First Blood, for combining the veteran alienation with urban cannibalism.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics