Teruo Ishii was a bit of a troll. When the studio expected something he
didn't want to do, he would just have fun with it, go all out, and more
or less attempt to sabotage the whole production. With The Executioner
they wanted a karate film with Sonny Chiba, and technically that's what
he gave them--in the same sense The Room is technically a drama that
deals with complex social issues.
So, aside from the fact Chiba's character is supposed to have inherited
ninjitsu, this is basically a live action adaptation of Lupin III. It's
over-the-top stylish, gaudy, ultra-violent, aggressively sexist, and
it's just wink wink nudge nudge the whole way through. The puerility
can become a bit much. At times it feels like you're being challenged
to see how much sleaze you can take, but the movie oozes style and is a
lot of fun, so you stick with it. A few boner and rape jokes later,
you're thinking this is absolutely stupid, why would anybody watch
this? Then you see something garishly brilliant that reminds you of
Dario Argento crossed with French new wave. Did Sonny Chiba just rip
that guy's rib out? Holy smokes! And suddenly you're back on the movie's
And it just goes on like that. It's some of the most extreme,
exploitative, intoxicating, dumb tacky pulp you'll see this side of The
Street Fighter. Much to Ishii's dismay, The Executioner was a success
in Japan, and he was called on to make a sequel. It is also insane.
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