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The Don "The Dragon" Wilson apprciation thread

Old 02-10-19, 10:43 AM
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The Don "The Dragon" Wilson apprciation thread

Don "The Dragon" Wilson is probably to 90's B-movie martial arts pictures, the same thing that Bruce Campbell was to horror: The King. Born in Cocoa Beach Florida in 1954, In 1972, he was attending college to get a degree in electrical engineering when his brother, who was studying Pai Lum Kung Fu challenged him to a sparring session. Wilson, who was a state wrestling champion was easily dominated by his younger brother. Around this time, a select group of martial artists, tired of doing "light contact point fighting" on the fear that their martial arts techniques could kill someone decided they wanted to go full contact. Wilson, decided to try it and fell in love with the sport which would be called full contact karate, then eventually kickboxing. In fact, he loved it so much that he quit college to train full time in a sport that barely existed yet. In a career that went on to span four decades, Wilson would win 11 championships in 3 weight classes with a record of 72-5 with 47 knockouts and he is considered to be the greatest American Kickboxer.

On the advice of Chuck Norris, Wilson then moved to California to study acting and try and get into movies. A bunch of small bit parts followed for him in movies like Say Anything, Born on the 4th of July and Zombie 4 until he got a phone call from New Horizons pictures. The company, run by legendary B-movie producer Roger Corman was looking to do their own Bloodsport knock off, and they contacted Wilson to come in after one of the producers saw an article about a Kickboxing champion who lived nearby. Wilson went to meet the producers and he....did not get the part. The role was written for an American, and since the newspaper article did not feature a picture, they did not know WIlson was part Japanese. However, they let him read for the role, and he was cast. When the movie came out in 1989, Van Damme had said that he was a world kickboxing champion, so Roger Corman told Wilson to challenge Van Damme to a "$100,000 winner take all" kickboxing match. Needless to say, he did not accept and the stunt helped Bloodfist become a hit for Corman.

Wilson continued to work with Corman on Bloodfist 2 in 89 and Futurekick(with Meg Foster and Chris Penn) in 91. In 91 he also signed a 3 picture contract with PM Entertainment after Loren Avedon, who had made a name for himself with No Retreat, No Surrender 2 and King of the Kickboxers passed on the offer. This led to Wilson doing Ring of Fire in 91. 92 was a busy year as Wilson had Bloodfist 3, Bloodfist 4, and Blackbelt for Corman and Out for Blood for PM. In 94 we got Ring of FIre 2, Ring of Fire 3, Red Sun Rising, Cybertracker and Bloodfist 5. 95 was another big year as it gave us, Bloodfist 6, Virtual Combat, Bloodfist 7, Cybertracker 2 and Wilson making a big screen appearance in Batman Forever.

96 gave is Bloodfist 8, Night Hunter, and Terminal Rush a Die Hard clone with Roddy Piper, while in 97 he worked with noted B-movie director Fred Olen Ray in Inferno. Wilsons career continued up through the 2000's, where he did Moving Target which was his last movie with Corman and other notable movies in the following years are Redemption with Chris Penn and Cynthia Rothrock, Stealing Harvard with Jason Lee, Sci-Fighter with Lorenzo Lamas and Cynthia Rothrock, Crooked with Olivier Grunner, Gary Busey and Martin Kove,, and The Last Sentinel with Katee Sackhoff and Keith David.

From there, Wilson was just burned out and stepped away from acting for 8 years until her returned in 2015 with The Scorpion King 4, One More Round, and the Kickstarter funded martial arts kid with Cynthia Rothrock. Wilson continues to act to this day.

So what is the legacy of Don Wilson? Well he did 14 movies for Roger Corman, and he was by far the biggest star who came straight from B-movies without starting in an A-pic first like Dolph, Speakman or Chuck. He started the trend of B-studios picking noted martial artists and putting them in their own movies based on their martial arts success whether they had acting experience or not, which gave us people like Gary Daniels, Jerry Trimble and Olivier Grunner. He also got a lot of noted martial artists to appear in stuntmen roles to make fight scenes easier to film on short time schedules. And finally his movies never lost money, they always made money and he helped contribute to the rise of the Martial Arts B-Pic while Segal and Van Damme were headlining the A-pics.

The Don Wilson must see 5:

1. Black Belt: Don plays a martial arts instructor and private eye who must protect a singer from a killer. Corman's version of the bodyguard also starring noted B-movie baddie Mathias Hues.

2. Red Sun Rising: Wilson plays a cop who has to stop a member of the Yakuza with mystical powers.

3. Ring of Fire 2: When his fiancée is kidnapped, Wilson must go into the sewers to get her back. Basically the plot of Double Dragon brought to life.

4. Out for Blood: Wilson's version of Death Wish where he seeks revenge on the drug dealers who killed his family.

5. The Last Sentinel: Sci Fi warrior movie that I found enjoyable and different than his other movies.

So that concludes my look back at the B-movie stars of the 90's. I was going to do two more on Gary Daniels and Cynthia Rothrock but just decided to stop at Don since they take so much time to write up.
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Old 02-10-19, 10:59 AM
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Re: The Don "The Dragon" Wilson apprciation thread

Dang, should have done Cynthia Rothrock instead. My friends and I always mocked Don movies. He just was not cool. Especially compared to others at the time.
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Old 02-10-19, 12:32 PM
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Re: The Don "The Dragon" Wilson apprciation thread

I always liked his 90s movies. The Bloodfist and Ring of Fire movies were always fun. There was like a dozen Bloodfist movies.

After looking over his IMDB page, it looks like he had small roles in a couple of pretty big movies. Born on the Fourth of July and Batman Forever
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Old 02-10-19, 01:43 PM
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Re: The Don "The Dragon" Wilson apprciation thread

Can someone please name me the Don Dragon Wilson Movie where he has a love scene in it? I ran into that movie in the 90s on cable and have never seen a guy so visibly nervous making love before
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Old 02-10-19, 07:14 PM
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Re: The Don "The Dragon" Wilson apprciation thread

Originally Posted by stingermck View Post
Dang, should have done Cynthia Rothrock instead. My friends and I always mocked Don movies. He just was not cool. Especially compared to others at the time.
I met Don "The Dragon" Wilson and Cynthia Rothrock when they were sitting together at Wesley Snipes' World of Martial Arts Show at City College of New York in 1998. It later aired on TNT, I think. One of the ring referees was an old friend of mine, so I got a picture of him and Cynthia after it was all over. Both Don and Cynthia were very nice.

My favorite Wilson movie is RED SUN RISING, which has an awesome supporting cast of Mako, Michael Ironside, Terry Farrell and Edward Albert, among others.

Of his Corman movies, I remember liking BLOODFIST III, which is set in prison and features Richard Roundtree as an inmate, the most.


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Old 02-10-19, 08:16 PM
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Re: The Don "The Dragon" Wilson apprciation thread

I can't remember the last time I saw a movie with that guy. Is it me or does he have a striking resemblance to Lou Diamond Philips?
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Old 02-10-19, 08:21 PM
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Re: The Don "The Dragon" Wilson apprciation thread

For those with Amazon Prime, there are a lot of Don Wilson movies available to watch for free with the subscription

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Don+Wilson&i=instant-video&rh=n%3A2858778011&ref=atv_dp_pd_star https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Don+Wilson&i=instant-video&rh=n%3A2858778011&ref=atv_dp_pd_star
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Old 02-10-19, 10:27 PM
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Re: The Don "The Dragon" Wilson apprciation thread

Originally Posted by Sonic View Post
I can't remember the last time I saw a movie with that guy. Is it me or does he have a striking resemblance to Lou Diamond Philips?
He’s like a lumpy looking Lou Diamond Phillips.
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Old 02-11-19, 12:27 AM
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Re: The Don "The Dragon" Wilson apprciation thread

I remember meeting him at an In-Store Appearance at a Hollywood Video in Michigan back when I was in Elementary School.

Really nice.
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Old 02-11-19, 12:34 AM
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Re: The Don "The Dragon" Wilson apprciation thread

Originally Posted by GoldenJCJ View Post

He’s like a lumpy looking Lou Diamond Phillips.
Lumpy?
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