Balisongs In The Movies

Title Publication Info The Balisong Collector's Comments
Big Trouble In Little China   This movie opens strong with an excellent balisong/stick routine executed flawlessly by Jeff Imada. This is probably the best balisong scene in any movie. But, unfortunately, the movie goes down hill fast and there's very little additional balisong content. My suggestion: watch the first few minutes and don't forget to rewind.
Sharky's Machine   None other than Guru Dan Inosanto appears as a gangster who tortures Burt Reynolds by cutting off his fingers with a balisong artfully opened. The scene if brief, but it is Inosanto. Otherwise, it's not a bad movie, but not great.
Mission Of Justice   There's a lot of balisongs in this movie and most are well manipulated, but nothing very fancy. Jeff Imada was the stunt coordinator, so all the fights are well-done. For a martial arts kick-flick, it's a pretty good movie. The stick gantlet scene is great, and a who's who of great stick fighters including Guru Chris Clark, my first instructor (and remember, Chris, you told me that I was not the worst student you've ever had).
Streets of Fire Universal Studios, 1984 My favorite movie featuring a balisong, one of my favorite movies altogether. There are only two brief appearances of a balisong and the manipulation is simple, but well-done. I like this movie because it's got a balisong and yet it's not a martial arts kick-flick (though the sledge hammer fight toward the end is excellent), and because the hero gets to wield the balisong for a change. Tom Cody, though, is a bit of a dark hero. It's a great movie, and I highly recommend it. Even your non-balisong friends will enjoy this one.
John Carpenter's Vampires Columbia Pictures, 1998 One of the bad guys briefly flashes a balisong. It's a cheap knife and the manipulation is simple.
Face Off  

First, that's a lot of movie to sit through for very little balisong. And I'm sorry, but I've never liked Travolta.

Second, Travolta's manipulation sucks. Couldn't they get Mr. Imada to teach him one or two tricks?

Hello Hollywood? I am available for consulting!

On the other hand, maybe they tried and this is all Travolta is capable of.

There's been a lot of talk about the knife itself in the various forums. This is the first time a balisong has appeard in a major popular movie in a long time and a lot of people seem to think the balisong and the Kris are something new.

Some people have asserted that this is some sort of custom made especially for the movie by Benchmade. I hate to disagree with those who insist that it is a special custom Benchmade, but I doubt seriously that Benchmade had anything to do with that knife.

It's a charming China cheapie folks. Nothing more. You can buy that knife on most any day. It's probably "made by Rostfrei".

Several people have made mention that the knife has no latch, so it must be a specially-made knife. The latch has been removed, probably because Travolta couldn't deal with it. When BM does a latchless, they don't cut the latch channel. When BM does a latchless, they don't drill a hole for the latch pin. When BM does a latchless, they don't cut a mating feature into the other handle. If you get the movie on DVD and show it on a good set and frame-by-frame through the knife's brief screen time, you can clearly see both the channels and the pin hole. It's obvious that the latch was removed which would take all of one minute with a Dremel tool.

You can also see the witness lines on the sides of the handles too. Witness lines are the lines left by the joints in a mold when a part is formed by molding. The handles on that knife are molded, probably Zamak.

Yes, BM made knives with molded Zamak handles, their "Economy Line." But, the BM Economy Line never had a kris. Furthermore, the Economy Line never had the Large Hole, two small holes, Large Hole... skeleton pattern. Furthermore, BM's Zamak handles were sand-cast, a process which leaves no witness lines.

The Large Hole, two small holes, Large Hole... pattern has been historically associated with BM and with Jodi Samson, but, unfortunately, it's not trademarked and it's been widely copied.

The kris really looks bad. BM has not done a kris since Mr. Samson left. I don't think they'd do a kris right now. It's a very difficult blade to make well. Furthermore, why the kris? The movie plot doesn't specifically call for it. Yeah, it adds extra dramatic flare to the knife, but a flashy spearpoint or Weehawk Tanto would work just as well. Had they asked BM to make a knife for this movie, I'm sure BM would have declined to do a kris right now.

Finally, a Kris is properly held with the point tipped down. Travolta, the master knife fighter, ignores this.

Why would BM be involved with this movie? It would be a huge effort on their part to make this knife (remember, they're really a production company). Making a balisong for a movie would only promote a product line they've discontinued. That makes not sense. And if they were involved, they'd have made a better knife than this.

I believe that what we have here is a charming China Cheapie with the latch removed. Nothing special at all.

As for the rest of the movie, I didn't care for it. Sorry. I understand that in the movies everything isn't always realistic and that the laws of physics don't always strictly apply. But I'm sorry to have to say that even, in Hollywood, two men can not be thrown several hundred feet from exploding speed boats and hit the shore without sustaining any injuries. This movie goes well beyond literary license. By the end of the movie, I was really tired of it and tired of Travolta. But, I got tired of Travolta about three seconds after pressing play.

Cheech and Chong's "Nice Dreams"   One of the best-known balisong scenes when Jeff Imada appears as a waiter and opens a bottle of wine using a balisong opened with a brief, but smoothly executed double-flip. The rest of the movie is worthless.
Goonies   Probably the worst balisong scene in a movie. The opening is done with two hands.
Falling Down   I have not seen this movie myself, but a friend writes, "Mexican gangster opens one to threaten Michael Douglas, but he stumbles on a simple double flip!"
Showdown In Little Tokyo  

One of the bad guys briefly flips a cheap balisong. The balisong opening is done reasonabley well. The rest of the movie is ok for a low-budget martial arts kick-flick. What would you expect from Brandon Lee? But, the final scene is just to much. It only proves that in Hollywood, no matter what day of the year it is, you can always hide in a passing St. Patrick's Day parade.

Apparently Lundgreen is immune to stab wounds. Early in the final fight, the villain drives a sword deep into Lundgreen's pec, but he just adds a slight sort of token pang to that shoulder for the rest of the scene.

Here's the scoop:

Dolph Lundgreen co-stars as a veteran cop and American samurai who's parents were killed by mobsters and who now wages a one-man war against Japaneese organized crime in America.

I don't want to give to much of this sophisticated and complex plot away --

well... ok.... I will: The bad guys all die. Lundgren lives. And you loose count of the bodies along the way. What do you expect from a Lundgren Kick Fest Flick?

Somehow, Dolph Lundgreen, accent and all, as a Samurai Cop just doesn't work for me.

Anyway, it's a fun kick flick. Don't watch it for the balisong. Watch it for Brandon Lee in action and for the girl in the hot tub.

The Mummy  

I have not seen this one myself, but I am told:

I remember thinking, "Did they have such nice balisongs back in the 1800's?" And watch (actually listen) for the horribly enhanced sound effects during the flip!

Well, on of my many other coorespondents answers this readers concern with:

FWIW, the date given in the first movie, "The Mummy", for the expedition
where Brendan Fraser uses his balisong is 1926 (rather than the 1800's :)

So, yes, there would have been balisongs at that time.

Karate Kid II  

Yet another movie that I have not seen myself but heard about:

Pretty nice flip by the villain fighting Daniel near the end, then the bali gets thrown to the ground. Gee, I hope it wasn't an Elishewitz Custom!!! Ah yeah,.. probably not!

Lethal Weapon 4  

I have not seen this movie yet.

I'm told that a balisong appears several times. I am told that while Jeff Imada appears, he does not have the balisong. Instead, a pregnant Rene Russo has a balisong held to her stomach and it was held in such a way you couldn't see the handle pattern except it was chrome with a slight false edge.

The Punisher

Artisan Entertainment


Yeah, I think that was a balisong that Lundgren used in one of the fights, but the scene is so quick you hardly see the knife. The manipulation is simple and quick and I can't say anything about the knife.

At least this is another rare movie where the "hero" gets to weild the balisong. But, then again, this Punisher dude is a really dark hero.

If you get the DVD of this kick flick, don't be deceived by the fact that the package says "Dolby Digital Surround Sound" in no less than three places. Only the sound clip accompanying the studio logo at the very end of the trailing credits is in 5.1 Surround Sound. The rest of the movie is in brilliant, acustically-exciting, technologically-advanced MONOPHONIC! Yes, you read that right: MONO! I guess this is what they call "Center-Channel-Only Surround Sound."

My DVD player was in the shop earlier this week, so when I tried this disk and only got the center channel, I assumed there was something wrong with my system. I double-checked every connection. And I hate fighting my way through all those cables in the back of that stuff. Then, I used Joe Kane's Video Essentials disk to check my player. Everything is fine. Another Prologic disk played as good as Prologic ever does. Finally, I looked at my player's status screen with Punisher in and it confirmed MONO! It was only for that one clip at the very end that suddenly the whole system automatically shifted to 5.1 for about three seconds and then back to MONO!.

Now, aside from the audio being in MONO!, and aside from the fact that the balisong scene is barely noticable, I did find this movie overall fun.

As we learned in Showdown in Little Tokyo, Lundgren is immune to stab wounds. Early in this film's final fight, one of the villians buries a dagger right in Lundgren's quad. He just pulls it out and adds a very slight sort of token gimp to his gate for the rest of the scene.

Anyway, here's the scoop:

Dolph Lundgren co-stars as a veteran cop and "The Punisher" from Marvel Comics fame, who's family was killed by mobsters and who now wages a one-man battle against Japaneese organized crime in America.

I don't want to give to much of this sophisticated and complex plot away --

well... ok.... I will: The bad buys all die. Lundgren lives. And you loose count of the bodies along the way. What do you expect from a Lundgren Kick Fest Flick?

I love the belt-fed machine gun with attached shot gun! Now that's creative armament. Unfortunately, I suspect that it's a Class III NFA item. I wonder if you have to buy two tax stamps for that?

Anyway, it's a fun kick flick. Don't watch it for the balisong. Watch it for the belt-fed machine gun with attached shot gun.

Payback Paramount Pictures 1999

Wow! The BEST balisong manipulation in a recent movie. It's only one appearance, it's not very long, and only modestly flashy, but boy is he good with it. I'm not sure, but I think the knife is a Benchmade 45.

As always, it's the bad guy with the knife. In the movies, good guys carry guns -- don't ya know.It's ok for Mel to shot an unarmed guy sitting at his desk because his boss on the speaker phone won't give away $70,000, but it's evil when some tough guy waves a balisong around.

Overall, this movie is great and has a great ending. As always, Mel Gibson does a perfect job with his character. The plot is somewhat predictable, but what do you expect from such a film? Gibson's character is owed $70,000 and he's not gonna stop until he gets it, even if people do wave balisongs in his face.

Jackie Chan's The Big Brawl  

 I have not seen this movie.

I'm told that one of the villains executes "The most abusive balisong manipulation on camera". (Perhaps he needs to read my taping tips.) The main villain really forces the flip opens. His knives are already loose but he torques those hinges.

Red Dawn  

Another one I haven't seen yet.

I'm told contains a balisong. A brief scene where a brass handle balisong is used to open a standard box of bullets.

Action Jackson  

I have not seen it myself.

I'm told "starring Carl Weathers, Sharon Stone, and Vanity. There is this scene where the bad guys sneak onto a yacht in the middle of the night and assassinate everyone on board. One of the bad guys kills another guy by flipping open a bali (looks like a BM 45, basic horizontal opening) and throwing it at him."

American Samurai (David Bradley)  

Yet another that I have not yet seen.

The hero beats a balisong wielder in a bar. Imagine Bloodsport with knives and weapons.

No Retreat No Surrender 3  

Another that I have not yet seen myself.

I'm told that this is perhaps has the "Longest" flip open sequence ever. One hero goes into bar and flips his bali for 4 sec or so before placing it against the belly of a bad guy.

Wow, a hero with a balisong. I've gotta get this one.

American Ninja  

Here's another report I've received.

Michael Dudikoff plays with a full size brass balisong to whittle a piece of wood. When it's time to fight, he tosses it out!

Xia dao Gao Fei

(USA title Full Contact)


I have not yet seen this film, but one of my corespondents writes

This made in Hong Kong film starred Chow Yun Fat before he came to make movies like Replacement Killers. His badass character uses a balisong several times throughout Full Contact, including "hero" shots of him holding the weapon beneath falling water to cleanse enemy blood off it. Includes some really far out action at the climax involving the balisong, bullet ricochets and farfetched knife throws into vital bodyparts.

Full Contact director Ringo Lam featured blades of one ilk or another in movies like School on Fire.

Blood In, Blood Out Hollywood Pictures, 1993

A corespondent writes: "I saw a movie with a balis in it. The movie was called Blood In, Blood Out. It was about a bunch of Mexicans in a gang, not worth watching just to see a bali. The manipulation was short lived and the quy stumbled on a simple opening"

However, a second corespondent has said that this is one of his favorite movies. He insists that it's a good story well-told. He suggests that my first reviewer doesn't understand some of the cultural references.

With two field reports at odds, it's time for The Balisong Collector Himself to step in:

Finding this movie to rent was a bit difficult and that made me a bit skeptical. Usually, when a movie is hard to find, that means it's not good enough for even the average person to want to watch. What I found out is that if this film is difficult to find, there are two reasons. First, it was originally released under the title Bound By Honor so there may be some confusion and it may be filed under that name. But, more seriously, it's probably because this film to good, to emotionally powerful for the average person to watch.

This is not a "fun" or "entertaining" film. It's not a "feel-good flick". It's dark, it's serious, and it's gritty.

It's the story of two Chicano brothers and their half-Chicano cousin growing up and living in East Los Angles, the very different paths they take, and how those paths converge.

The film begins with the cousin beating up his white father and the violence and desperation just grows from there.

As the film got started, I said to myself, "This is the Chicano remake of Boyz In The Hood." But as the film progressed, I found out that while it is similar to Boyz, this film is ten times the film that Boyz was -- and that's a lot because Boyz In The Hood was a great and powerful film too.

My only complaints are first that the ending is abrupt. They needed just one or two more scenes to fully resolve the three central characters. Even though this film is already three hours long, I'd have gladly extended it a few more minutes to see the two cousins together one more time. And, second, one cousin ends up in prison and the film closely follows his life there and how being white in appearance but Chicano in character affected him there. The other cousin actually ends up a police officer. I think the film should also have more deeply explored his path through the police department and how being Chicano affected him there.

The three central characters are diverse and complex and their changing relationships make this film rich and complex.

As for the balisong, well, it appears only once. There is no hero in this film and no villian; they're all heros and all villians. The balisong appears in the hand of the half=Chicano cousin. My somewhat worn VHS copy made it impossible to accurately identify the knife. Could be a Benchmade 45. The opening was quick and smooth (and accompanied by realistic sound effects for a change). The closing was with two hands. Oh well.

So, I agree with both of my corespondents. This film is a great story well told, but it's not worth seeing just for the balisong. See it anyway because it's worth seeing even without the balisong.

Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight   I have not seen this movie, but I'm told it contains quite a number of balisong scenes and some nice manipulations. It's actually one of a series of Tales from the Crypt made-for-TV movies, but I am told that they are widely available for purchase and rental on VHS.
Clive Barker's Lord Of Illusions



If you're looking for a truly creepy horror flick, this film should fill that bill. Scott Bakula stars as a private detective hired by the wife of a famous stage magician to figure out what's troubling her husband. This leads Bakula's character to a murderous satanic cult trying to resurrect its evil leader killed years earlier by the now famous magician and his now wife. The special effects are incredible. One of the evil cultists carries a balisong and it shows up several times. The manipulations are simple but smooth.
The Outsiders   I'm told that one of the characters flips a balisong a few times.
Codename Wildgeese   Another one I've not seen. But, one of my many field agents reports briefly: starring Scott Glenn not Roger Moore). He uses a bali quite nicely .
Sword of Heaven   Again, another dispatch from the field: staring Tadashi Yamashita, one of the villain uses
Taylor/Seto balis in both hands. Note that the title might be different as sometime the importer changes it to suit local marketing strategy ..
China Girl   And yet another new field report: a Romeo-Juliet type story, but between an Italian boy and Chinese girl. The boy's elder brother was killed with a bali (a bad reputation for bali!) that was bowie bladed (I guess 5"), with brass handle and insert, but it seems to be more of early Bali-Song era than an FHM ..
Bound By Honor   See Blood In, Blood Out since Bound By Honor is the title under which this film originally appeared
Arctic Heat   Another dispatch from one of my field operatives: about 3 (?) college students got into Russia (USSR then) prison. In the prison there was such thing as human chess play, where the execution is real. One girl (I forgot why and how) managed to get a bali to be used by our hero to shave, and the opening is slow and deliberate with BOTH hands (by the girl). I think it is the PC 4" Skeletonized
American Ninja   A brief flash from the field: Dudikoff stabbed it on the floor of the back of truck and pulled himself up during the chase right after the BG kidnapped the General's daughter.
Ten to Midnight   The corner teletype here at Balisong HQ springs to life again with this brief report: The naked killer (Jan Michael Vincent) use a spearpoint bali to do the killing. I love to have his well toned body although he is somewhat short for a Caucasian.

This just came in on the priority channel. Crypto got right on it:

Here's the A HongKong movie, Attrition, flashes a drop point 4" blade with black insert handle by the co-hero .. It was hold with the index finger between the handles.

Born American  

The old teletype springs to life again with another report from one of my field agents:

Found a balisong in a movie. The film is "Born American" and details three vacationers in Europe who cross the iron curtain into Russia and are captured. I thought this movie would be of most intrest because it is actually the hero who holds the knife. The scene is near the end, and is given to the American for his escape by a soldier of fortune in the Russian prison.

The manipulation is simple. It's just barely clear enough to see the print on the tang, and it appears to be marked with the Benchmade over U.S.A. The only use of the knife gets is the hero shaving with it, unlatched, in the scene after it is given to him.

The Mummy Returns   More Bali action in "The Mummy Returns". Nice but simple and smooth manipulation. Apparently Brendan Frazier has had some practice from both his movies and performs simple openings with good show quality.
 New Jack City    In the movie "New Jack City", around the middle of the
film Wesley Snipe's character quickly flips open a
Balisong and cuts off the ponytail of a gangster from
a rival italian gang while Snipe's flunkies hold him
down. There's really no definite way to tell what
type or model it was, but it was indeed a butterfly
 Tomb Raider II   Angelina Jolie returns as Laura Croft... this time sporting a balisong.

Wow! Just when I find myself thinking, "That must be all of them," more reports arrive. If You'd like to contribute your comments about these or other popular movies containing balisongs, please e-mail me.