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The Jeff Speakman appreciation thread

Old 02-02-19, 07:43 AM
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The Jeff Speakman appreciation thread

Jeff Speakman might be the ultimate example of a Hollywood missed opportunity. While working as a Kenpo Karate instructor in LA, Speakman met producer Mark Disalle. Disalle was notable for being a producer on Van Damme's Bloodsport, and the director(though it's debated) on Van Damme's Kickboxer. Disalle liked what he saw from Speakman in terms of his look, and he also thought American Kenpo would be a fun martial art to bring to the screen because of it's uniqueness. On top of that, Steven Segal(who was cast in Above the Law on a bet that a producer John G Wilson made that he could take anyone and make them a star) had a hit movie with Above the Law, and would also have Hard to Kill and Marked for Death which would also be hits coming out soon. Van Damme was becoming a bigger star on the heels of Bloodsport, Kickboxer, Cyborg, Lionheart and Death Warrant and looked to be climbing up the Hollywood ranks. In addition, Chuck Norris had essentially moved on from doing martial arts movies, preferring to use guns. So Speakman who had previously stared in a low budget thriller called Side Roads, and played Mansion Security Man in Van Damme's Lionheart seemed like a good choice.

Speakman's starring vehicle The Perfect Weapon came out in March 1991. The movie which also starred a young Mariska Hargitay(seriously she was cute back then) didn't perform as good as Van Damme or Seagal's movies and debuted at #6. However the movie did make $14million on a $10million dollar budget and did do well on video. Speakman signed a multipicture deal with Paramount and was due to star in a sequel to this, as well as his next movie which he was developing. However a regime change at Paramount caused Speakman to have his contract bought out and his next movie be sold to Fox against his knowledge and he was unable to buy it back. The movie,about a cop who was battling a terrorist who put a bomb on a bus and if the bus drops below 50MPH the bomb would explode, eventually came out in 1994 as Speed with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock.
Speakman's bad luck would continue as his next movie, Street Knight had the dubious distinction of being one of the last movie Cannon films produced and released before it went belly up and had a very limited release before going straight to video where Speakman was relegated to ever since. Speakman never had the career or success that Van Damme and Segal had, but the great irony is that had he stared in Speed instead of Keanu, who knows where his career might have gone. The Perfect Weapon does get a recommendation though as a fun piece of 90's martial arts cheese.

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Old 02-02-19, 08:34 AM
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Re: The Jeff Speakman appreciation thread

The Perfect Weapon!!
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Old 02-02-19, 09:42 AM
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Re: The Jeff Speakman appreciation thread

The Perfect Weapon is the only thing I ever saw him in...and to be honest it wasn't very good.
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Old 02-02-19, 10:32 AM
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Re: The Jeff Speakman appreciation thread

I think there is more written in that OP than has ever been written about Jeff Speakman ever before.

I always preferred Don “The Dragon” Wilson or Gary Daniels for my 90s Action B-movies. Speakman always just seemed too greasy and weathered. It’s as if he filmed all his movies after a dank, weekend bender in Atlantic City.
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Old 02-02-19, 10:47 AM
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Re: The Jeff Speakman appreciation thread

I watched my HBO VHS recording of The Perfect Weapon countless times when I was a kid. Loved it.

I recall being very excited to see his next movie (Street Knight), but was very let down.
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Old 02-02-19, 10:49 AM
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Re: The Jeff Speakman appreciation thread

Perfect Weapon was great. Anytime I hear The Power, I think of the training scene. I know I watched Street Night, but remember nothing about it. The same could be said for Olivier Gruner in Angel Town. One great movie, and then gone. It goes to show just how popular Van Damme and Seagal were, others couldnt compete.
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Old 02-02-19, 11:13 AM
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Re: The Jeff Speakman appreciation thread

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Old 02-02-19, 11:21 AM
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Re: The Jeff Speakman appreciation thread

^
Short but unfunny. Go back to your topical Peter Falk impersonations, Kevin. Yeesh.
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Old 02-02-19, 04:14 PM
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Re: The Jeff Speakman appreciation thread

I think he probably arrived to the scene a little late...like an 80's style rock band releasing their first album in 1992 at the beginning of the Nirvana age.
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Old 02-02-19, 08:54 PM
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Re: The Jeff Speakman appreciation thread

The Perfect Weapon was a decent programmer, but Speakman just had no presence. He has some of the fastest hands I've ever seen in martial arts, but his footwork was less than spectacular.
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Old 02-02-19, 09:06 PM
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Re: The Jeff Speakman appreciation thread

Back in the day I always thought he starred in American Ninja. Only then to realize that was Michael Dudikoff.
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Old 02-03-19, 12:01 PM
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Re: The Jeff Speakman appreciation thread

Originally Posted by Norm de Plume View Post
The Perfect Weapon was a decent programmer, but Speakman just had no presence. He has some of the fastest hands I've ever seen in martial arts, but his footwork was less than spectacular.
I believe Kenpo is more upper body and fists as opposed to kicking and legs, which is why his footwork was "less than spectacular."
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Old 02-03-19, 07:22 PM
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Re: The Jeff Speakman appreciation thread

Junkfood Cinema just put out an episode about The Perfect Weapon in the last week or two. It sounds AMAZING.
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Old 02-03-19, 10:57 PM
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Re: The Jeff Speakman appreciation thread

Who's up next to appreciate? Bolo Yeung or Mark Dacascos?
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Old 02-04-19, 12:29 AM
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Re: The Jeff Speakman appreciation thread

Outside of Chuck Norris, an actual top-ranked tournament fighter and student of Bruce Lee, it was always hard buying a white guy as a martial arts action star in the 1980s and 1990s if you were watching the stuff coming out of Hong Kong and Asia. Even Van Damme wasn't completely credible in my eyes and why I usually preferred his non-martial arts films.

It would take another two decades before another credible white martial arts star would show up, the great Scott Adkins. It's a shame there was nothing like Cannon around during Adkins' prime.
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Old 02-04-19, 08:30 AM
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Re: The Jeff Speakman appreciation thread

15 posts before Scott Adkins was mentioned! Bravo gentlemen!
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Old 02-04-19, 09:26 AM
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Re: The Jeff Speakman appreciation thread

Saw Perfect Weapon in a theater with a friend, . All in, there was maybe eight people in the room. Fooled by the trailer, I honestly thought this might herald the arrival of some new martial arts star, but then that Kenpo-boogie-in-the-phony-living-room opening sequence unfurled and I knew I was essentially watching a DTV movie that got lucky. Didn't mind Speakman's look, and he could act ok, I guess, but there wasn't much charisma. I actually thought STREET KNIGHT was a better film with higher production values and a better performance from Speakman, but too little too late I suppose. I'm skeptical that SPEED ever would've been made with him. Seemed inevitable they'd go with an actor that had a wider recognition factor at the time.

Mind you he was far from the worst. An entire thread could (and probably should) be devoted to the wannabe martial arts "stars" who clogged video store racks in the 80's and 90's. There's some gold buried there, and even some passable actors, but the mediocrity was sometimes off the scale, with just about any genuinely skilled martial artist with good hair and a kung-fu magazine spread getting their shot.
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Old 02-04-19, 07:09 PM
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Re: The Jeff Speakman appreciation thread

Jeff Wincott had a couple of passable flicks.
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Old 02-04-19, 07:14 PM
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Re: The Jeff Speakman appreciation thread

Jeff Wincott is Michael Wincott's brother.
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Old 02-05-19, 10:30 AM
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Re: The Jeff Speakman appreciation thread

Originally Posted by Norm de Plume View Post
Jeff Wincott had a couple of passable flicks.
Agreed. A personal favorite of mine in his list was LAST MAN STANDING, which had the benefit of the Pepin-Merhi stunts 'n explosions factory. And in his favour, he'd already established himself as an dramatic actor before started his run of B action pictures (TV grade, but hey, the long-running Canadian cop show NIGHT HEAT was decent). He was in a rare category, though. Unlike him, a lot of the 90's martial arts "stars" just popped up out of nowhere, and in time disappeared just as fast. Wincott's still working.
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Old 02-05-19, 08:48 PM
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Re: The Jeff Speakman appreciation thread

Originally Posted by davidlynchfan View Post
Who's up next to appreciate? Bolo Yeung or Mark Dacascos?


I do remember liking Only the Strong, but I haven’t seen it since it came out. I’m sure it’s terrible.
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Old 02-05-19, 09:29 PM
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Re: The Jeff Speakman appreciation thread

Dacascos was awesome in Brotherhood of the Wolf.
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Old 02-05-19, 09:30 PM
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Re: The Jeff Speakman appreciation thread

Hell yes he was. Also great in Crying Freeman.
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Old 02-06-19, 06:59 AM
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Re: The Jeff Speakman appreciation thread

Drive is the best Dacascos movie. It was Rush Hour before Rush Hour, just didnt have a big release.
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Old 02-06-19, 09:22 AM
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Re: The Jeff Speakman appreciation thread

Originally Posted by Norm de Plume View Post
Jeff Wincott had a couple of passable flicks.
I would say Jeff Wincott probably has the "strongest" filmography of most of the straight to VHS stars of the 90's. Deadly Bet, Mission of Justice, Martial Outlaw, and Last Man Standing were all really solid and among the best of the time period. It'd be nice to see him do another martial arts movie again sometime.
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