Directed by: Gordon Hessler
Starring: Sho Kosugi, Lewis Van Bergen, Robin Evans, and Richard Wiley
"When just getting even is not enough!"
Shiro Tanaka (Sho) is a Phoenix, Arizona cop working for the “Drug
Investigation Bureau”. Both he and his partner Ray (Wiley) are sick of
department red tape, and even though they always get results, the top
brass is always coming down on them for their “reckless” ways. While
working an angle, Ray goes solo to the compound of the sadistic drug
lord Havelock (Van Bergen), where he is then tortured and killed. Shiro
vows revenge and uses every weapon at his disposal to stop his
arch-nemesis, and eventually this leads them both into the jungles of Argentina where the final battle commences. Will the resourceful Shiro win the day?
from the opening “party boat” scene, you know you’re in for a heavy
dose of 80’s awesomeness. (frustratingly, the one song used in the
film, a Wang Chung/Mister Mister-like jaunt, is not listed in the
credits or anywhere online that we could find). Both here and
throughout the whole film, Sho’s thick accent is in full force. Some of
the most hilarious moments in the movie come during the dialogue scenes,
where the other actors have to simply pretend his accent isn’t
unintelligible. So, to keep Sho’s dialogue to a minimum, he pauses
instead of speaks in many cases. The result is amusing. But the other
actors aren’t blameless here either - while Sho’s name in the movie is
“Shiro”, it sounds like most people are calling him “Churro”. While this
would be insulting to Mexicans and Japanese alike, I think we can put
this down to lack of understanding of Japanese naming traditions. While
this is part and parcel of the whole Sho experience, fans really want to
see Sho in action, and they are treated to some great stuff here.
While the film lacks one of Sho’s trademark opening-credits displays of his moves, we do see throughout the
movie his wide array of weaponry. Some of which he is credited with creating himself. While the bad guys
have some noteworthy hardware, such as long , Wolverine-like metal
claws that remind you of Terror Claws Skeletor, in almost every action
scene, Sho seems to have a tackle box filled with throwing stars, nunchuks, swords, grappling hooks and many other items. One of the coolest is a digital throwing star which blows up on contact. It doesn’t get any more awesome than that.
But, if truth must be told, there is some filler in this one. This is director Gordon Hessler's
immediate follow-up to Pray for Death (1985), which is a much more consistent
film. Yes, Havelock is the classic “hiss-able” bad guy, but Limehouse
Willie beats him in both the name and pure evilness departments. Once
the action moves to Argentina, it gets dangerously close to a standard
Exploding Hut jungle slog, and Sho can do better. We liked him in the
scenes with his
tuxedo and white scarf, looking suave. Despite what may surround him,
one fact is undeniable: Sho is cool.
Interestingly, while Sho
is, here, for all intents and purposes, a ninja, the whole “ninja”
aspect is not played up at all. No one says the word “ninja” and no
emphasis is put there. Perhaps by 1987 the filmmakers felt the whole
Ninja Boom was on the wane and they would try out Sho as a cop...who’s
basically a ninja.
So go back to a time when men smoked in hotel
lobbies (and the prerequisite abandoned warehouses), and Sho ruled the
video store shelves. While we believe the best Sho movie we’ve seen to
date is Pray for Death, the Cannon-like fun of Rage of Honor shouldn’t
be forgotten among those who can’t get enough of the thrills of Sho.
Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett