Best of the Best 4: Without Warning (1998)
If you watched "Best of the Best" and found the underdog sports tale to your taste be warned as the 3 sequels are very different. The 2nd movie was about revenge, the third was about one man helping rid a town of trouble and then comes "Best of the Best 4: Without Warning" which is your innocent man on the run having to fight to prove his innocence storyline. And what this really means is that Phillip Rhee returns as Tommy Lee and finds himself having to fight to protect him and his daughter, yes a daughter we knew nothing about, from a bunch of criminals and the police who think he is guilty of murder. It's obvious, cheesy and not that exciting but pretty much on par with "Best of the Best 3" with a few nice fight scenes and some over the top action.
Having pulled of an audacious robbery a group of Russian gangsters lead by Lukasz Slava (Tobin Bell - The Quick and the Dead) and his son Yuri (Thure Riefenstein) start printing of counterfeit money, that is until one of them, Mickey (Jill Ritchie), realises how serious things are and manages to slip a data CD into the pocket of Tommy (Phillip Rhee) before she is gunned down. Unaware that he is in possession of the data, Tommy and his daughter Stephanie (Jessica Huang) are forced too run when the Russian's try to kill them. But it's not just the Russians Tommy needs to worry about as the police are also after them when he is forced to kill his cop friend Jack (Chris Lemmon) when he turns out to be working for the Russian's as well.
One thing is very clear, you need to disengage your brain when watching "Best of the Best 4" especially when in the opening scenes we watch a lorry carrying bank paper being held up quite literally as a helicopter then carries it off to a secret location from a busy city streets. It's certainly an outrageous opening and sadly not that exciting either with several cliche bad guy elements occurring before we get the unbelievable helicopter moment. Anyway what this all builds up to is a gang of Russians printing forged money only for one of them to have a crisis of conscience and ends up slipping a disk into Tommy's pocket whilst in a shop. There are embellishments, there are fights, connections and yes that is Tobin Bell aka Jigsaw from the "Saw" movies as head villain but none of it is that remarkable.
And this all builds up to Tommy and his daughter Stephanie forced to go into hiding when the bad guys track them down, Tommy having to fight and also deal with the cops who think he is a cop killer. There are more embellishments as Tommy actually teaches martial arts to the police and finds himself at loggerheads with Detective Gresko before all this kicks off but it is very straight forwards. And as such all of this eventually leads to Tommy having to fight the bad guys using his sublime martial arts skills on numerous occasions.
The trouble is that all of this is really just one big standard storyline with nothing which makes it feel any different. Even with Tommy having trained cops but then having to go on the run doesn't add anything different and it is very much a case of working through the very obvious story till we get to the big final action scene. And sadly whilst Phillip Rhee is one skilful fighter there is nothing really new when it comes to the action either and to be honest various fight scenes border on the cheesy because they are too unbelievable.
The saving grace to "Best of the Best 4" is once again Phillip Rhee because he is likeable and a much better actor than this. The script maybe cheesy with several sentimental moments but you enjoy watching Rhee as Tommy delivering either a smart arse response or a butt kicking and is really the only reason to watch this 4th movie. Although having said that it is nice to watch Ernie Hudson play a detective with major attitude and aggression rather than just a nice guy and whilst he doesn't do much Tobin Bell does have that air of villainy about him as Lukasz.
What this all boils down to is that "Best of the Best 4" like "Best of the Best 3" is not a good movie and fails to add anything to a very obvious and ordinary storyline. Even the action doesn't really excite despite being outrageously over the top and the only real reason to watch is Phillip Rhee who as Tommy at least brings some charisma to things.
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