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Rick, a down-and-out American boxer, is hired to transport a sword to Japan, unaware that the whole thing is a set up in a bitter blood-feud between two brothers, one who follows the traditional path of the samurai and the other a businessman. At the behest of the businessman, Rick undertakes samurai training from the other brother, but joins his cause. He also becomes romantically involved with the samurai's daughter. Written by
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The Challenge is one of John Frankenheimer's more tolerable action movies from the 1980s. It was the decade that the formerly great director made a number of duds, such as the embarrassing The Holcroft Covenant, but this one is OK in its simple minded way.
The story concerns American boxer Scott Glenn, who is hired to smuggle a priceless Samurai sword into Japan. He does it easily enough, but then discovers that the sword is responsible for a family feud, with two sides of the same family claiming that it is rightfully theirs.
The film is quite action packed and definitely bloodthirsty. It has a good sense of pace for the opening three quarters of an hour, and builds up an interesting plot. There's a slow bit for the next hour or so, but it comes back to life with a vengeance in the closing minutes with a truly outstanding sequence in which Glenn and his ninja buddy infiltrate a heavily guarded building. The Challenge is definitely no masterpiece (the afore-mentioned dull patch in the middle ruins it chances of that) but it's an enjoyable enough way to pass a couple of hours.
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