Why has this film been so completely neglected? A Dangerous Place is without a doubt one of the most competent and entertaining B-grade teen action films to be released in the 1990s. This film plays like a more violent version of "The Karate Kid", only with cool car chases and without the endless training montages.
A Dangerous Place reinterprets a classic martial arts storyline. One brother is killed in a fight (usually during a tournament), forcing the other brother to brush up his fighting skills before facing his brother's murderer in the ring. A Dangerous Place loosely uses this framework but makes a number of interesting adjustments. In this case, Greg is killed in a fight with Taylor (Corey Feldman), the leader of the Scorpions Karate club. Greg's younger brother, Ethan (T.J. Roberts), suspects foul play and joins the club to learn the truth. This leads to the classic match showdown between the Scorpions and Ethan's club, the Lions. This film manages to breathe new life into the well worn formula by transferring the action to a high school and by making the Scorpions a criminal outfit, which carries out robberies orchestrated by their teacher and sensei. The great Pat Morita would most definitely not approve!
A Dangerous Place is directed by Jerry P. Jacobs, who made a string of great low budget action films in the 1990s. This man knows how to entertain viewers with a steady stream of robberies, car chases and karate battles. This film never lets up, from the opening scene, (in which the gang carry out a robbery after being dropped off by one of the boys' mothers!) to the dazzling finale. The fight sequences are particularly well done, with clever editing and interesting camera work. There is not much blood but the action is relatively realistic for a film aimed at a teen audience. Oh, and keep an eye out for Greg's ghost, which I thought was a highly amusing creative touch.
In addition to great action sequences, the film offers a fine cast of cult actors. The always impressive Mako plays the good sensei, while Marshall R. Teague has a great time playing yet another evil character, the crime lord sensei/English teacher. Corey Feldman has possibly his best role of the 90s as Taylor. As unlikely as it sounds, he is actually quite believable as an evil karate villain and does not look completely ridiculous in the fight scenes. The same can be said for T.J. Roberts, who does well in the fight scenes despite looking half the size of his opponents.
A Dangerous Place is worth hunting down. Contrary to a couple of reviews here, I don't think it is as good as "The Karate Kid" but I do think it is considerably better than most of the crap passing for mindless entertainment these days.