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Karate Bullfighter (1977)
"Kenka karate kyokushinken" (original title)

R  |   |  Action, Biography, Drama  |  March 1977 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 298 users  
Reviews: 7 user | 8 critic

This movie is based on the true life story of a Korean fighter named Choi Bae-dal (who later changed his name to Masutatsu Oyama), the founder of Kyokushin Karate in Japan.



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Credited cast:
Jirô Yabuki ...
Shogo Ariake (as Jirô Chiba)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Sensei Masutatsu Oyama (as Sonny Chiba)
Kenji Imai
Masashi Ishibashi ...
Hideo Murota
Mikio Narita ...
Yumi Takigawa ...


This movie is based on the true life story of a Korean fighter named Choi Bae-dal (who later changed his name to Masutatsu Oyama), the founder of Kyokushin Karate in Japan.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


No one can touch this karate master... and live.


R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

March 1977 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Karate Bull Fighter  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This movie is based on the true life story of a Korean fighter named Choi Bae-dal (who later changed his name to Masutatsu Oyama), the founder of Kyokushin Karate in Japan. Choi was born in South Korea in 1923, immigrated to Japan in 1938, and founded the Kyokushin Karate organization in 1953. Currently, Kyokushin Karate is practiced by more than 12 million practicioners in over 120 countries around the world. See more »


Followed by Karate for Life (1977) See more »

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User Reviews

Story and characters limit the engagement while the action is only solid
12 August 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This film is a biography of Korean karate master Oyama, whose students include the actor that drew me to watch this film, Sonny Chiba. I wasn't sure how I felt about a film about someone who, ignore the one heroic bull fight shown here, he did make a career out of "fighting" and killing tamed and tethered bulls with his bare hands; given my feeling on blood sports generally, this seemed to be a rung down the ladder from even those. That said I thought I'd watch the film to see what Chiba could do. The first thing that hits you is that the film has dated and unfortunately it is well enough made that it has not dated in a cheesy enjoyable way.

The story told here is interesting enough in its very brisk flit through the early life of Oyama. We see his frustration with the world of karate, his killing in self-defence of a man and his subsequent attempts to make it right in regards the man's widow and young son. There isn't a lot of drama in the telling though and not a great deal of characterisation to gets one teeth into – interesting in the overview to a point but not a gripping story. This leaves the martial arts action to carry the burden and this it does, to a point. The fights are reasonably enjoyable but they are pretty "straight" in their delivery with very little in the way of impressive choreography or design to them. They aren't helped much by the very shaky camera which doesn't look like a deliberate choice since it tends to detract rather than add (those that think the Bourne movies etc just have "shaky cameras" should watch this to see the difference between it working as a device and not working as a device). The actions and tough standoffs are quite good though, but having Chiba in there makes them a bit better.

As a physical presence I didn't see here why he has a big name, since to my amateur eye he is not as good as others I have seen make it into film, but he does have a decent presence as a leading man in this film. Yamaguchi maybe doesn't make this a thrilling martial arts film that I was hoping for, but there are some very good locations that are used well, a rain storm, the long grass of fields etc that I thought looked better than they played out.

Maybe I'll try the rest of this short series of films from Chiba, but on the basis of this one I'm not so sure. It lacked a strong plot and characters to draw me in and the action was solid but not spectacular or thrilling. Still a solid martial arts film, but not a great deal more than that.

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