Thursday, March 31, 2016

Rage Of Honor

After starring in several entertaining action movies for Cannon, such as ENTER THE NINJA and REVENGE OF THE NINJA, Japanese martial artist Sho Kosugi jumped to Crown International to make the disappointing 9 DEATHS OF THE NINJA and then Trans World Entertainment for PRAY FOR DEATH and RAGE OF HONOR. Both Trans World pictures were directed by veteran Gordon Hessler, whose career began in television on ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS. Hessler directed three episodes of the busy Kosugi’s NBC television series THE MASTER before helming the Trans World films.

Shiro Tanaka (Kosugi) is a federal narcotics agent working undercover in Buenos Aires to bring down a major drug operation run by the sadistic Havelock (the nonthreatening Lewis Van Bergen, who starred in ABC’s SABLE next). One night while Shiro is dining in a tuxedo at an elegant restaurant with his American girlfriend Jennifer (Robin Evans), his partner is tortured and murdered by Havelock. Enraged at not only Havelock, but also his by-the-book boss (Gerry Gibson) who pulls him off the case, Shiro quits the agency and bolts to Argentina, where Havelock has also kidnapped both Jennifer and his pal Dick (Chip Lucia), leading to a one-man assault on Havelock’s jungle retreat.

Although Kosugi doesn’t wear the traditional ninja garb from his Cannon movies, he’s still the same old Sho, mowing down dozens of foes with his vast armory of edged weapons. Spikes, spears, shurikens—stand in Sho’s way, and prepare for a blade in your gut. Or forehead. Or neck. And sometimes Kosugi tries killing the old-fashioned American way: with a good ol’ automatic pistol. Action fans may bemoan Hessler’s bloodless approach to the shooting and slicing, which may have been a reaction to PRAY FOR DEATH’s dismemberment by the MPAA.

RAGE OF HONOR is standard ‘80s action fare, lacking the outlandish absurdities of Kosugi’s more entertaining Cannon fare. It picks up in the second half when Kosugi begins his trail of vengeance, and the last half hour or so is basically one long chase and fight with Kosugi doubling as the film’s martial arts choreographer and weapons designer.

The film also contains less dialogue for its star, whose mangling of the English language is in direct proportion to his stiff performance, and unfortunately Hessler hasn’t recruited a supporting cast strong enough to counterbalance Kosugi’s shortcomings. Stelvio Cipriani composed the bland score. Filmed on location in Arizona and Argentina, RAGE OF HONOR was produced by Don Van Atta, whose background was TV sitcoms like MADAME’S PLACE and BOSOM BUDDIES.

1 comment:

Glen Davis said...

It seemed like the longer he was in the country, the worse Sho Kosugi's English became.