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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
After a peace loving Japanese immigrant (Sho Kosugi) and his family become victims of a crime syndicate, a master ninja emerges.
Director Gordon Hessler had a great run going into the 1970s, working with Vincent Price, AIP and all those talented folks. Look at this three film run: "The Oblong Box" (1969), "Scream and Scream Again" (1970) and "Cry of the Banshee" (1970). Unfortunately, it seems to have been downhill after that, or at the very least, he was behind films that did not quite get the attention of these three.
Then comes 1985, where we have this unusual gem. A Japanese ninja film, set in America and directed by a Brit. It is quite an unusual blend, something you might expect from Cannon. Or perhaps Transworld, which would be correct.
This sort of over-the-top movie is despised by most critics (with good reason), but embraced by those in the horror and cult community. Joe Bob Briggs praised star Sho Kosugi as "the best kung fu man since Bruce Lee" and ranked the film high on his 10-best list for 1986. Briggs is my kind of reviewer, who knows good cheese when he smells it. Kosugi really was the defining ninja of the 1980s (with all due respect to a certain group of turtles).
Arrow Films has released the film on blu-ray, and have done a very fine job of it. We have a 1080p presentation from a transfer of original elements by MGM of the unrated version. yes, the unrated version, which means more of that wonderful scene with the burning elderly man! We have a brand new interview with Sho Kosugi, as well as an archive interview and Ninjitsu demonstration with Kosugi from the film's New York premiere.
I would love to have seen a an audio commentary from Kosugi, or perhaps something from Hessler, but he likely passed before Arrow got the rights. All in all, this is a great release and anyone who loves the days of renting action films based on their cover is going to appreciate what this gem has to offer.
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