Savate (film)

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Savate movie cover.jpg
Savate movie cover
Directed by Isaac Florentine
Written by Isaac Florentine
Julian Stone
Starring Buffalo Magicsack
Ian Ziering
Release date
  • August 24, 1995 (1995-08-24)
Running time
88 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Savate (also known as The Fighter) is a 1995 martial arts western directed by Isaac Florentine and starring Olivier Gruner, promoted as the allegedly true story of the world's first kickboxer.


1865. Joseph Charlegrand is a former French soldier whose best friend and comrade was murdered by an officer of the French Foreign Legion in Mexico. Looking for the murderer, Charlegrand is heading for a martial arts tournament in the United States because the murderer takes his pride in being a skilled fighter.
On his way from Mexico to Texas some American rogues take him for a Yankee and ambush him. He can fight them off but loses his horse. On foot he runs out of water and eventually breaks down. Two young farmers (Ashley Laurence and Ian Ziering as Mary and Cain Parker) save his life.
When the farmers go to town for purchases they are molested and eventually seriously attacked by the roustabouts of a local business man who wants their land very badly. The film's protagonist returns the farmer's favour by applying his savate. Yet it is obvious they need further support.
Consequently he stays with them and even instructs Cain how to fight, so that he might win the martial arts tournament and hereby earn the money they need to pay the new taxes. But during one night masked riders burn their barn and one of them loses a precision dice. Cain recognises this object, follows the culprit into town and confronts him. After Cain has been shot dead, all farmers are ready to sell out.
The hero decides he mustn't let that happen, hence he takes the dead farmer's place in the tournament and tells the farmers to bet all their money on him. In order to prevent him from being successful, his friend's murderer, the German-speaking von Trotta (Marc Singer) is hired.
But the bad guys leave nothing to chance and also take Mary Parker as hostage. Charlegrand manages to cause enough confusion to disappear between two fights, so that he can free Mary and force Colonel Jones (James Brolin) to spill the beans. The alleged new taxes turn out to be a hoax but the farmer's savings are on Charlegrand and so they still need him to win the tournament.
Therefore his final battle with von Trotta mustn't be postponed, even though Charlegrand has been shot in the course of action.


The French Foreign Legion had been founded in 1831, one year after the Garde Écossaise had been officially dissolved. Right from the beginning many German-speaking men joined the forces, often hiding behind false names. In 1861 Napoleon III used the Legion for the French intervention in Mexico. It lasted until 1867. At that time Charles Lecour had already created and established French boxing as a blend of savate and English boxing. Hitherto savateurs had used their hands mainly to block kicks or to fence with sticks (canne de combat) at the same time. One of Lecour's students was former army instructor Joseph Charlemont. Against this background it is imaginable a savateur like Joseph Charlegrand could have served in Mexico and that he might have met a German-speaking legionnaire during this time. Yet in spite of the claim the story was true, it seems to be mere (even though entertaining) fiction, since with the slow communications and travel of 1865, and the lack of cross-over in combat sports of the time, the idea of an international martial arts contest in the wilds of the American West is highly anachronistic.


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