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Karate Killer (1976)

Kill or Be Killed (original title)
Two former ranking figures of the Axis powers schedule a deadly martial arts tournament in an isolated locale. The two rivals then race to assemble the top competitors from around the world... See full summary »


Ivan Hall


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Cast overview, first billed only:
James Ryan ... Steve Hunt
Charlotte Michelle Charlotte Michelle ... Olga
Norman Coombes Norman Coombes ... Baron von Rudloff
Daniel DuPlessis Daniel DuPlessis ... Chico
Raymond Ho-Tong Raymond Ho-Tong ... Miyagi
Ed Kannemeyer Ed Kannemeyer ... Ruell
Douglas Baggott Douglas Baggott ... Luke
Stuart Parker Stuart Parker
Jorg Henrichsen Jorg Henrichsen
Steve Coetzer Steve Coetzer
Klaus Zungler Klaus Zungler
Phillip Gerber Phillip Gerber
Bevan Bagott Bevan Bagott ... Karateka
Ian Bell Ian Bell ... Karateka
Pieter Burger Pieter Burger ... Karateka


Two former ranking figures of the Axis powers schedule a deadly martial arts tournament in an isolated locale. The two rivals then race to assemble the top competitors from around the world, with Steve Hunt being the most sought after fighter. Written by JD-2 <Badge19@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Greatest Hollywood Martial-Arts Movie ever Made! See more »


Action | Drama | Sport


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Parents Guide:

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South Africa | USA



Release Date:

17 June 1976 (South Africa) See more »

Also Known As:

Karate Killer See more »

Filming Locations:

South Africa

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Originally released as "Kill or Be Killed," it was popular enough to spawn the sequel "Kill and Kill Again". See more »


Several times the lips don't match the words spoken, probably due to language dubbing. See more »


Featured in Trailer Trauma V: 70s Action Attack! (2020) See more »

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User Reviews

A real hoot.
21 May 2018 | by Hey_SwedenSee all my reviews

James Ryan portrays Steve Hunt, a karate expert caught up in a grudge match between two WWII war criminals, Baron von Rudloff (Norman Coombes) and Miyagi (!) (Raymond Ho-Tong). The two men are going to have their teams of martial artists square off in a tournament, with the first team to garner 20 points declared the winner. Steve and his girlfriend Olga (Charlotte Michelle) try a few times to escape, but to no avail. There's no way Steve isn't going to end up participating. Fortunately for the two of them, they have a helping hand in the form of Chico (Daniel DuPlessis), a put-upon little person who is the Barons' associate.

Filmed in South Africa in 1976, but not released in North America until 1980, when martial arts mania was then in full swing, "Kill or Be Killed" is on the low-budget and crude side. The 1981 sequel, "Kill and Kill Again", is a little more polished. While the sequel blatantly goes for tongue-in-cheek, this is played somewhat straighter - still, there's plenty of time for some humour, which helps to make the movie very enjoyable. There's lots of fights, lots of action - and lots of fun. Some of the acting is pretty cheesy, especially from hammy villain Coombes. The most appealing performer is diminutive, likeable chap DuPlessis, who figures in one extended, amusing montage where he's recruiting fighters for the Barons' team. The leading lady Michelle is quite gorgeous, the scenery is very striking, and it would be hard not to get into the spirit of "Kill or Be Killed" thanks to that rousing music score (which one has to assume is stock music, given that there's no composer credited).

Highly enjoyable for any fan of karate cinema, with engaging heroes and wonderfully despicable antagonists, including one fighter (who kind of resembles Jeff Conaway) constantly making trouble for Steve and Chico.

The ultimate resolution, however, falls short of being really satisfying.

Eight out of 10.

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