Plot: After a crime syndicate killed his good friend, Jason Blade (Edward John Stazak) takes the law into his own hands and plans to use his martial arts prowess to settle the score. The man at the top of the criminal enterprise is Damien Zukor (Michael Carman), but before he can get within reach of the crime boss, Blade will have to investigate and take out countless henchmen. Once he has the attention of Zukor, then he can make his run at vengeance, but before he can do that, the local police realize what’s going on and become involved as well. The cops want to see Zukor brought down, but at the same time, they can’t be seen as turning a blind eye to all the vigilante justice that Blade has been dispensing. Can Blade keep ahead of the police and fight his way to the top, to finally avenge his friend’s death?
Entertainment Value: This is a fun one, a martial arts fueled Ozploitation ride from Brian Trenchard-Smith that is just about as much 80s as one movie can handle, complete with all kinds of gratuitous exercise scenes. The story is an action staple, but no harm there, as this revenge tale is focused on the martial arts battles, shootouts, and stylish 80s vibes, rather than narrative. The basics are covered and the rest of the time is devoted to pure, b movie style cheese cinema, a total blast that never holds back on the action or offbeat moments. The fights break out often and while the set pieces aren’t large scale, some creative elements are used, so the clashes are often more than just some punches and kicks. I also liked seeing both men and women kicking ass in Day of the Panther, equal opportunity b movie mayhem at its finest. The 80s just soak this one too, from the hair styles to the outlandish clothes, not to mention all the attitude that just reminds you what decade spawned the movie. A good pace keep things lively and as I said, the fights are frequent and that’s what the focus is, so Day of the Panther is never slow or dull in the least. If you have even a casual interest in 80s action, martial arts, or Ozploitation, you should pick up Day of the Panther.
No nakedness. The movie does deliver beautiful girls, often in 80s exercise outfits, including one character who cannot seem to get enough aerobics and performs some awkward, hilarious routines. A blend of exercise, interpretive dance, and erotic undulations, her performances are a highlight and add that special b movie magic to those scenes. There’s a wealth of action in Day of the Panther, but not much blood, which isn’t a surprise, since the tone doesn’t really match up with graphic, blood soaked style violence. This is more throw a guy through a table kind of violence, an over the top, b movie martial arts approach. But the action is all over the place here, with a variety of fisticuffs and chases, even some gun battles come across, so genre fans should be happy with that. The dialogue is a lot of fun, with a focus on 80s lingo and one liners, as well as some awkward flirtations from time to time. The banter lines up well with the rest of the movie’s tone, adding some humor and b movie cheese. On the craziness front, we have a bunch of dudes in random animal masks, a fetishistic level of exercise scenes, the cringe aerobic seduction sequences, and the general over the top, b movie elements, which are plentiful.
Overall Insanity: 5/10
The Disc: Umbrella Entertainment has released Day of the Panther on Blu-ray alongside its sequel, Strike of the Panther, with both cult classics given new 4k scans sourced from the original interpositive elements. To say the movie looks good would be a massive understatement, as this is light years beyond any of the various editions I’ve seen, almost like a new movie. The print is clean and allows for a super sharp visual presence, one that shows impressive depth and a good amount of fine detail, but retains the natural film-like texture at the same time. The colors are garish of course, as the 80s demand and contrast is on the mark. This is a fantastic treatment and Umbrella has made a lot of action fans quite pleased here. The film’s trailer is also included.