The Deadly Art of Survival (1979)

Director: Charlie Ahearn Starring:Nathan Ingram, George David Conzales, Migeul WIllanueva. USA. 1h m

You’ll not find any film as authentic while investigating New York Black and Puerto Rican culture than this collector’s gem. Ahearn had always been in love with the streets and his down to earth and accurate portrayal is extended to this more fictional story surrounding the troubles between a man trying to enjoy his love of martial arts peacefully and those trying to use it to arm their drug runners.

Super Action Film

This No-Wave masterclass is blistering with authenticity, a lot of the scenes just seem to ad lib themselves to a natural conclusion but there’s a powerful story or doing the right thing, before Spike Lee attempted to. It’s an interesting concept, the ideas of martial arts integrity vs lawless jive talking gangster.

Despite its budget and issues with sound and quality, there’s not a dull moment, and it’s not all mindless fighting. There is a great story, something that underlies a lot of Oriental movies, a battle against adversity and it’s never pretty. Nathan (Igram) is minding his own business talking about HK cinema when he’s jumped by a gang, he’s not aware but word has gotten out that Nathan has knocked up Migurles asian girlfriend and is out for blood.

This is just one of Nathan’s problems, he’s currently trying to clean the scum from the streets, including Handsome Harry and his Disco Dojo where the pupils are employed as drug runners. Things get silly when it’s revealed that Nathan is the toy boy of a rich white woman, but the most comical is when a couple of ninjas take some time out of their day to steal Nathan’s lunch and hat!?

To its credit the film’s goofiness is a side dish, while the main course is quite a NYC time capsule and best appreciated alongside any City based curb stomping epic.


Rating: 6/10

Related:Dance of the Drunk Mantis (1979), Black Fist (1974)

Lists: Blaxploitation and Kung Fu


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