Karate kill or be killed.
After losing touch with his sister a young Japanese fella named Kenji (Hayate) is finally given the opportunity to search for her. But as she’s gone missing on the other side of the world trying to make it under the bright lights of LA, where does he start? Fortunately for him a kick in the face translates into exactly the same thing all over the world.
It’s unfortunate however that after picking up a lead, his sister was last seen working in a hostess bar owned by an unscrupulous Japanese owner with a gambling debt. A debt that was collected by a group of dark web Internet celebrities with the catchy name of “Capital Messiah”. When you discover CM’s big selling point is snuff videos, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out where Kenjis little sister Mayumi (Mana Sakura) has ended up.
I would say “cue the violence” but by this point we’re already crotch deep in it. It’s not just Capital Messiahs head honcho Vendenski (Kirk Geiger) getting g the blood flowing, Kenji cuts a path through people tracking him down as well. By the time he meets up with Asamis character Keiko we need a flotation device.
Story wise it’s a classic revenge plot with a little game of death thrown in. An in depth story is secondary to the action & violence in Karate Kill though, after his last feature “Gun Woman” it was obvious director & writer Kurando Mitsutake had a way of mixing up action scenes so they stood out. Not just the physical aspects where characters had their own style, but with the environments of the “marquee” fights. Each one stood out as unique, if not for the style & the environment it was the characters involved. Top marks in that department for Kirk Geiger’s Charles Manson style cult leader in charge of Capital Messiah, a truly nasty bad guy who rantings and ravings are the polar opposite of the silent but deadly protagonist Keiji.
If there’s a failing its the lack of time spent with some characters, Noriaki Kamata as the “club manager” as well as David Sakurais “Japanese swordsman” are two that don’t even have names but feel like they have more to offer. Not to forget Keiko & Simona (Katarina Leigh Waters) who’s rivalry was too brief. I’d dig a sequel/prequel with any of them.
Also the violence… That might not be everyone’s cup of tea. I like mine strong though so I dug it. There are a few cgi grumbles here and there, but the fights have a solid feel to them and more than make up for it.
Final thoughts? Anybody who lives on a diet of horror, low budget 80’s action and “kung fu” flicks, should find this ticking all the boxes. Those not familiar in the ways of Golden Harvest or Canon however, might find it rough around the edges or a little hard to swallow.