Renegade lasted 5 seasons for reasons that will forever elude me, but I will admit these episodes (two-parter) were a lot more entertaining than I expected.
It was one of those shows that was considerate enough to tell everyone the premise at the beginning of every episode: “He was a cop, and good at his job, but he committed the ultimate sin—and testified against other cops gone bad. Cops that tried to kill him, but got the woman he loved instead. Framed for murder, now he prowls the badlands…an outlaw hunting outlaws…a bounty hunter…a RENEGADE.”
The main characters were Reno Raines (Lorenzo “My last name sounds like Alpaca” Lamas), his Native-American partner Bobby Sixkiller (Branscombe Richmond), and Bobby’s sister Cheyenne Phillips (Kathleen Kinmont) who were working to clear Raines’s name and hunt down Donald “Dutch” Dixon (Stephen Cannell), the man who framed him, while earning money as bounty hunters. Raines uses the alias Vince Black, because everyone on this show has an awesome name.
Seriously, Reno Raines, Bobby Sixkiller, Dutch Dixon, Lorenzo Lamas, Vince Black? It’s like the festival of St. Kickass of Lastname.
This episode starts with Reno receiving an anonymous call that his brother, Mitch (Martin “I’m the Sensei from Cobra Kai” Kove), who he thought died almost 20 years ago, is alive and literally kicking as a cage fighter. However, the person who calls him is killed after delivering a tape of Mitch. Then, in order to find out where his brother is, Reno has to enter underground kickboxing matches, because the 90s were awesome at times. So, the team heads to Mexico. Also, they have Charles Napier and Mitchell Ryan in the cast as the bad guys, presumably because they were in Rambo: First Blood Part II and Hot Shots: Part Deux (which came out the next week), which parodied Rambo III. I know that’s not the real reason, but it’s why I would have put them in the episode.
Raines beats up three guys, because why not, then he’s offered a team death match, which he accepts. They give Raines a truth serum, because those exist, apparently, and he tells the fight organizers his backstory and that he’s looking for his brother. However, he apparently doesn’t remember doing this, because truth serums also do that, I guess. The organizers contact Lt. Dixon and offer him Raines if they can hold the fight at his palatial estate (apparently no one has ever questioned how a police Lieutenant affords a mansion). Reno is then put into the ring against his next opponent…
His own brother, Mitch!
They fight, Reno is winning, but the fight is declared a draw so they can make it a headline fight for later. It turns out that Mitch has amnesia, and is being manipulated by the organizers. Reno then attends a party to promote the fights, which includes a bizarre scene of underwater day-glo bikini knife fighting. Reno makes contact with Mitch, whose memory starts to return. The organizers, knowing their relationship, threaten to kill Mitch’s Thai wife and Cheyenne if either Mitch or Reno refuse to fight. This fails almost immediately after the fight begins, due to Reno’s and Mitch’s abilities to round-house kick all of the people in the face. All of them. Dixon kills one of the organizers, and Reno and Mitch machine-gun down the other’s helicopter in a very cost-effective scene. Mitch then leaves to be with his new family, and Reno eats a hamburger.
Not gonna lie, I liked these episodes. I re-watched a few other episodes of Renegade to see whether I’d just forgotten that it was a good show, but, no, it was mostly just the set-up for these episodes. It was like watching a mid-range budget ’90s action movie starring Lorenzo Lamas. It pretty much just gives the main characters an excuse to punch and kick each other for a solid 20 of the 80 minutes. The plot’s super generic, sure, but it was the ’90s, that’s what we had back then. There’s amnesia, a brother who was thought dead, a lot of round-house kicks, and some bikini knife-fighting. If you had replaced Lamas with Chuck Norris, this would have easily been an episode of Walker, Texas Ranger. Replace him with Michael Dudikoff, and it’s an episode of Cobra. It probably could also have been an episode of Street Justice. The point is, it was very ’90s, it was very fun, and it’s all about how brothers love each other, like me and the brother who made me watch this episode.
My only real question here is this: Why is there not a role for William Zabka? This could have been the Cobra Kai reunion which we were desperately seeking in the 90s, and don’t tell me that Zabka had other stuff going on, because we all know that he didn’t. Hell, why didn’t they put Steve McQueen’s son who played Dutch in Karate Kid in the episode? He’s a martial artist, and the bad guy is already named Dutch. This just seemed like a missed opportunity. But, overall, I actually enjoyed this.
If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.
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