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Akira Saito, a Japanese businessman lives in Tokyo with his Japanese-American wife Aiko and their children, Takeshi and Tomoya. When the family has a chance to move to the United States so that Aiko can teach the children about their American heritage, they pack up and head for Houston, Texas and run a restaurant. This is where the trouble begins. A band of crooked cops store stolen goods in the back room of the restaurant and unknown to the Saitos family, a priceless necklace (the Van Atta necklace), is wanted by a local syndicate. When one of the dirty cops decide to take the necklace for himself, the syndicate goes after the previous owner of the restaurant, then after the Saitos'. When one of the boys is kidnapped by top thug Limehouse, Akira quietly rescues him. However, when Aiko and Tomoya are run down by Limehouse in an effort to get the necklace, Akira has had enough. For years, Akira has kept a dark secret. Akira finally decides to unleash his dark side. Written by
A Japanese man (Shô Kosugi) moves his wife and two sons to America to start a new life but it's soon turned into chaos when a gangster starts terrorizing them believing that they have a priceless jewel. What we've got here is basically a DEATH WISH movie but instead of Charles Bronson we're given a ninja. This here certainly doesn't come close to the same level as one of the DEATH WISH films and I'd say it's no where near the level of REVENGE OF THE NINJA but fans of the genre will probably still have a good time with it. I think the biggest problem working against the film is that we've simply seen this type of story way too many times and outside the ninja stuff, there's really nothing new done with it here. We basically have a good-hearted man coming to America do to everything right but then he runs up against a ruthless gangster who just wants to kill and torture. It's pretty strange to see how much of the violence is towards the two young kids and when you see this you know you're watching something from the 1980s. The film certainly picks up some steam as it moves along and reaches the revenge aspect. The finale has Kosugi putting on the ninja suit, grabbing his sword and stars and going out for revenge. These scenes have a certain campy feel to them but there's no question that they're good enough to please fans of the genre. Kosugi certainly doesn't fit the profile of a "great actor" but I do think he did well enough for the part and there's no question that you're able to connect with him and feel for his situation. The rest of the performances are rather forgettable but they're good enough for this type of film. The violence in the film is all rather tame, although there's an uncut version out there that features a little bit more. Still, PRAY FOR DEATH is far from what one would consider a good movie but it has its own charm that makes it viewable entertainment.
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