The Perfect Weapon

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The Perfect Weapon
Perfect weapon poster.jpg
Directed by Mark DiSalle
Produced by Pierre David
Mark DiSalle
Line Producer:
Marty Hornstein
Executive Producer:
Ralph Winter
Written by David C. Wilson
Music by Gary Chang
Cinematography Russell Carpenter
Edited by Andrew Cohen
Wayne Wahrman
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date
March 15, 1991
Running time
87 minutes[1]
Language English
Budget $10,000,000[2][3]
Box office $14,061,361

The Perfect Weapon is a 1991 martial arts action film directed by Mark DiSalle and starring Jeff Speakman, Mako Iwamatsu, James Hong, and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa. Set in Los Angeles, the film relates the story of a young man (Speakman), who is trained in the martial art of American Kenpo, and his fight against the Korean mafia.

Speakman was a student of and was advised closely by Ed Parker in the making of this film.[4][5][6]

The film's taglines included "No gun. No knife. No equal." and "Just try him." and is the only well-known Hollywood depiction of Kenpo techniques on-screen.

The hit 1990s song The Power by rap group Snap! is featured extensively in the movie's soundtrack.[7]


Jeff Sanders (Jeff Speakman) leads a double life: by day, he is a simple, unassuming construction worker, and by night, an expert Kenpo student and master of his craft.

When Jeff lost his mother as a teenager, he became an outcast and frequently lashed out at his family and society in an attempt to assuage his anger. His father, Captain Sanders (Beau Starr), gained the idea from a mutual friend, Kim (Mako), to enroll Jeff in a Kenpō school to better manage his rage and feelings. However, he got into a fight with a bully who beat up his younger brother, and severely injured him with his martial arts. Displeased with his lack of self-control, Jeff's father forced him to move out of home. Jeff, now estranged from his family and living alone, continued with his courses in Kenpo and eventually gained Kim as a mentor and father figure.

Jeff decides to return to his old neighborhood and visit his mentor Kim when he detects that Kim is in danger. Jeff discovers that Kim is having trouble with local Korean mafia families, due to his refusal to pay them off and use his antique store to peddle drugs. Jeff helps out Kim by beating up the people who attacked his store which leads to Kim being murdered in his bed by hit-man Tanaka (Professor Tanaka).

Jeff vows to avenge Kim's death and is determined to find out who ordered Kim's murder. He remembers a boy named Jimmy (Dante Basco) who lived with Kim, and tries to find him to ask if he knows about the murder. However, Jeff's estranged younger brother Adam (John Dye), now also a cop, is investigating the case, and warns Jeff against trying to settle matters in his own hands. In his hunt to exact revenge, Jeff is approached by a mafia boss named Yung (James Hong) who claims to be Kim's friend and knew of a possible lead to Kim's killer. Jeff is directed to Sam, one of the mafia bosses in Korea town, who was believed to be the one who ordered Kim's death. However, upon breaking into Sam's residence and attempting to kill him, Jimmy appears to reveal that Sam was Kim's friend and was the one who took him in for protection. Jimmy also explains that Yung is the one responsible for Kim's death, and he was merely attempting to use Jeff as a weapon to kill his rival boss Sam.

Jeff now plans to kill Yung, but Jimmy warns him that Yung is always protected by his hit-man Tanaka. In order to eliminate Tanaka, Jeff asks Jimmy to falsely testify (to Adam) that he witnessed Tanaka murdering Kim. The plan is have Adam arrest Tanaka so that Jeff can get Yung alone to kill him. Adam and the police eventually capture Tanaka after a long car chase, but to Jeff's dismay Yung was not in the car with him. Tanaka is attacked with a taser, but later manages to escape from the police by severely injuring Adam and breaking out of the police car.

Jimmy overhears that Yung plans to escape the country by boat, and tells Jeff about Yung's drug factory. Now further fueled for vengeance, Jeff sets out to attack Yung's drug factory, using his martial art skills and various weapons to defeat guards and hitmen protecting Yung. He eventually subdues Yung, but is attacked by Tanaka. Although Tanaka gains the upper hand during their fight, Jeff manages to kill Tanaka by setting fire to a gas tank he was standing next to. Despite initially wanting to kill Yung, in the end Jeff decides to capture him alive (showing he has learned self-control) and turns Yung in to his father, Captain Sanders.

The film ends with Jeff entering the kenpo dojo to visit his former master.


Box office[edit]

The Perfect Weapon debuted at the box office at number six with a three-day box-office take of $3.9 million and had a total domestic box office gross of $14,061,361.[9]


The film was met with mixed to negative reviews,[10][11][12] with a 40% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on ten reviews.[13]

Home media[edit]

The Perfect Weapon was released on February 14, 2012 on DVD and Blu-ray Disc.


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Martial Artist Ready To Fight The Good Fight". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  3. ^ David Mills Washington Post,Staff Writer. (1991, Mar 17). Whomp--splat--hyah! The Washington Post (1974-Current File) Retrieved from
  4. ^ Schaefer, Stephen (1991-03-26). "Speakman's career kicks in". USA Today. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  5. ^ "The Perfect Casting?". The Los Angeles Times. 1991-01-06. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  6. ^ Ketcham, Diane (1991-03-10). "LONG ISLAND JOURNAL". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-12-04. 
  7. ^ Holden, Stephen (1991-03-16). "Review/Film; Antiseptic Martial Arts". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-12-14. 
  8. ^ Krance, Magda (1991-03-03). "A `Perfect' homecoming What's `the next Bruce Lee' doing kicking around Hersey High?". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  9. ^ Broeske, Pat H. (1991-03-19). "THREE-DAY WEEKEND BOX OFFICE : 'Lambs' Is Still Roaring". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-11. 
  10. ^ Thomas, Kevin (1991-03-18). "A 'Perfect Weapon' With Limits". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-08-23. 
  11. ^ "The Perfect Weapon". The Washington Post. 1991-03-18. Retrieved 2010-08-25. 
  12. ^ Holden, Stephen (1991-03-16). "Review/Film; Antiseptic Martial Arts". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-12-14. 
  13. ^ "The Perfect Weapon". Rotten Tomatoes/Flixster. Retrieved 2013-08-24. 

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