36 user 40 critic

The Challenge (1982)

R | | Action, Drama | 23 July 1982 (USA)
A down-and-out American boxer becomes involved in a feud between two Japanese brothers.


John Frankenheimer




Cast overview, first billed only:
Scott Glenn ... Rick
Toshirô Mifune ... Yoshida
Donna Kei Benz Donna Kei Benz ... Akiko
Atsuo Nakamura Atsuo Nakamura ... Hideo
Calvin Jung Calvin Jung ... Ando
Clyde Kusatsu ... Go
Sab Shimono ... Toshio
Kiyoaki Nagai Kiyoaki Nagai ... Kubo
Kenta Fukasaku Kenta Fukasaku ... Jiro
Shôgo Shimada ... Father of Yoshida
Yoshio Inaba Yoshio Inaba ... Instructor
Seiji Miyaguchi ... Old Man
Miiko Taka ... Yoshida's Wife
Akio Kameda Akio Kameda ... Boxer
Hisashi Osaka Hisashi Osaka ... Knifeman


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 <scrow@chop.isca.uiowa.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


One American Against All Odds. See more »


Action | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


According to co-writer John Sayles, director John Frankenheimer brought him to Japan to change all the Chinese characters of the script into Japanese characters in only five days. One day he went to Kyoto to see the locations for the big battle scene at the end of the movie; the other four days he was locked up re-working the script in the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo while Toshirô Mifune took everyone else out for dinner. See more »


After Akiko disappears at the street festival, Rick runs into a guy with a walkie-talkie. As they're talking, people passing in the background look at the camera, duck, and run out of frame. See more »


Rick: Any rules?
Yoshida: One fights to survive.
See more »

Alternate Versions

TV Version, Sword of the Ninja, was recut by the director and runs 97 m. See more »

User Reviews

Keeps coming to mind.
20 May 2000 | by khodgmanSee all my reviews

This isn't an award winning film. This isn't a well known film. But it has a good premise and is one of my secret pleasures. Two Brothers in a long standing feud over an ancient family sword and an American "dupe" that's been thrown into the fray. We watch his journey and education in a different culture with different values (yet oddly similar to ours, and riddled with similar weaknesses.)

The reason I know I like this one (even with all the flaws) is that it keeps coming to mind from time to time. And after some thought, I think it boils down to basic examinations of how to live one's life. How important is Honor? Is it better to take the quick and easy $ or to work for it? How important are family bonds? Are the modern ways of life any better than the traditional ones? Is it ever too late to turn your life around? And so forth. These are why I like this movie. Sure it can come off as a bit preachy about duty, honor, loyalty and traditional ways, but it has always made me think about what is the best way to live one's life.

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USA | Japan


English | Japanese

Release Date:

23 July 1982 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Equals See more »

Filming Locations:

Kyoto, Japan See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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