AKA: The Last Reunion, Ninja Nightmare
Directed by: Jay Wertz
Starring: Leo Fong, Hal Bokar, Cameron Mitchell, Phillip Baker Hall, Stack Pierce, and Joe Mari Avellana
During the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in 1945 (starting exactly like previous Fong vehicle Murder in the Orient, 1974), a group of American soldiers invade the home of Japanese general Matsuda. The soldiers proceed to rape and murder his wife, and eventually kill him as well. A massacre ensues. Sadly, their young son witnessed all the horror. Then we are told it is March 27, 1978 in San Francisco. The boy from that terrible day in the forties is now a grown man, and he has been obsessed with getting revenge on the soldiers that did this to his mom and dad. He has plenty of haunting memories from that time. When Matsuda (Fong) sees that the 33rd reunion of the 75th Rangers is occurring in Manila, Matsuda goes as well, where he attempts to pick the soldiers off one by one who killed his family, making it, for them, The Last Reunion.
The Last Reunion, as it was originally and perhaps more appropriately known (but undoubtedly retitled because it was not exploitative enough), is a fairly serious drive-in style drama, but with a structure not unlike a slasher film. A lone man is picking people off one by one, yes, but here the characters and scenarios have a little more substance and flesh to them than usual.
Among the group of soldiers, the mainstay Cameron Mitchell portrays Lt. Sam Hacker, the most sympathetic of the bunch. As we will see later in Rage to Kill (1987), he gets a chance to dance. The other sympathetic soldier is Frank Washington, played by Stack Pierce. They primarily have to deal with the belligerent, angry, annoying and unlikable Steadman (Bokar). Bokar does a great job because you hate him so much. Famous, respected actor Philip Baker Hall shows up as Sills, the guilt-ridden alcoholic in a pretty early, mustachioed role. In fact, all the men seem to want to do is get hammered, but Matsuda puts a serious wrinkle in their plans.
I know it's an oversimplification, but one thing I personally found distasteful in this film was that the bad guys are American Soldiers. They are portrayed not as heroes, but as amoral rapists and murderers. Not cool. Even after their atrocity, one of the soldiers says "Sorry, Kid", as if they ran over his bike with their car or something. But on a much, much lighter note, when Matsuda decides he is going to get revenge (and later as well, during the "film set" scene), rather than say something that explains his feelings, or explains something, he simply screams "Bushidoooooooo!!! Bushidooooooo!!!!" Man that's funny. You have to see it. Fong really comes alive.
A highlight of the movie are its many musical acts, especially an outfit called the D'Hi Octave Band. They are a Filipino, female-fronted disco act that has matching outfits. They even play at a club called "Disco". Their scene is a film highlight, and fits in perfectly with the seventies feel of the movie.
By today's standards a bit slow, Revenge of the Bushido Blade is a quality production of its kind that is well worth watching.
Comeuppance Review by Brett and Ty
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