Archive for the Kane Kosugi Category

Arrow Video has you covered! Pray For Death! Sho Kosugi! Blu-Ray!

Posted in Kane Kosugi, Sho Kosugi on June 6, 2016 by Michael S. Moore

PFD

It’s insane to think that there was any chance that Sho Kosugi’s Cannon films would come to Blu-Ray, but thanks to Arrow Video it’s a reality! The first film up is Pray for Death, and you can read my review of that film here. The Blu-Ray transfer is as good as you could hope, and there is both an R-rated and Unrated version. I won’t give much away about the unrated version, but I’ll say that the death of Saito’s wife is far more brutal here than in the original, and we get to see Kane making the Ninja Bicycle! If you haven’t seen this film, and don’t know what I’m talking about, get thee out and see it, preferably in this format! Sho has never looked so good on film, and the extras contain an interview with the man himself, and his stories about how he came to be with Cannon Films make this an instant get. Here are some of the other extras: (I wasn’t given a version with all of the extras at this time)

Bonus Materials

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation from a transfer of original elements by MGM
  • R-rated and Unrated Versions
  • Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Brand new interview with star Sho Kosugi
  • Archive interview and Ninjutsu demonstration with Kosugi from the film’s New York premiere
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin

That reversible sleeve rocks! This is out now, so go get it, and see one of the gems of Cannon Films, and one of the films that started the ninja craze of the 80’s! Now we just need American Ninja in Blu…

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Review: Ninja: Shadow of a Tear (2013)

Posted in Isaac Florentine, Kane Kosugi, Kazu Tang, Mika Hijii, Ron Smoorenburg, Scott Adkins, Tim Man on March 17, 2014 by Michael S. Moore

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Starring Scott Adkins, Kane Kosugi, Mika Hijii, Patrick Kazu Tang, Shun Sugata, Ron Smoorenburg, Jawed El Berni, Tim Man

Fight Choreography by Tim Man

Directed by Isaac Florentine

The original Ninja film was a breath of fresh air. Not only did it bring the ninja back in a big way (Ninja Assassin notwithstanding), but also continued to upward rise of martial arts star Scott Adkins and helmer Isacc Florentine after the classic Undisputed 3. Afterward came a little Indonesian film called The Raid, that upped the ante for everyone. Now we return to the adventures of Casey Bowman and his now wife Namiko (Hijii), and what ensues is a tonally different film than the comic-book style of the original.

Adkins returns as Casey Bowman, who, since the previous film, has married his deceased Sensei’s daughter Namiko and taken control of the Takeda Dojo. Namiko, who is now pregnant, asks Casey to go to the store to get chocolate and seaweed, and Casey returns to fine Namiko murdered by an assailant with a barbed chain weapon. During her funeral Nakabara, an old friend of the clan (Kosugi) shows up to offer his condolences, and to offer Casey a place to train and clear his head, at his Indonesian Dojo. Casey does so, but not before beating the daylights out of an entire dojo plus two thugs he believes were in on it. The thugs reveal that Boss Goro, a Japanese drug lord in Burma, had murdered Namiko. This takes Casey on a whirlwind trip of revenge, but fight after fight brings him closer to his target, who may not be the only villain responsible for Namiko’s death…

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Ninja 2 is a far darker film that the previous movie, but that’s to the film’s advantage. Scott Adkins returns as a far more vengeful Casey, and his kills are much more brutal than anything he did in the original film. Adkins’ acting is getting better and better with each film, and he does an even better job of conveying Casey’s emotions as his world falls apart. The only thing I miss is the Hugh Jackman Wolverine jacket he wore in the first film! Kane Kosugi does a good job here as well, and I was happy to see Kane in a good film. I hope that he teams up with Florentine again in a film he can star in. Kane’s skills have always been exemplary, but his film choices have left a lot to be desired. Shun Sugata is also good as Goro, and I smiled as he channelled several of Sonny Chiba’s mannerisms into his fight style. If I have a true issue with the film is that there wasn’t enough action with Casey in his ninja outfit.

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The fights by Tim Man is the star attraction here, and rightly so. There are a ton of fights in this film, and each one has a different dynamic and aesthetic, and the first fights involving Patrick Kazu Tang are great, but it’s only a hint at the things to come. A too-short fight that included Ron Smoorenburg (Who am I?) and a great fight between Casey Bowman and a fellow student Lucas (el Berni) leads to the two big fights in the film: Scott Adkins vs Tim Man, in a stunningly great looking fight, full of acrobatics and martial arts mastery, but the best is truly saved for last. Scott Adkins vs. Kane Kosugi is one of those fights I’ve always wanted to see (check that off my bucket list!) and it does not disappoint! Both men bring their all to the fight, and is a showcase of their martial arts at their prime. Can we please get Kane Kosugi into a film of his own?

Ninja 2 leaves Casey Bowman in a strange place. His wife and her father are gone. Casey, the man without a family, has lost his. What comes next? It will be fun to see where Casey the ninja goes from here.

 

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 9

Full of exciting fights and Scott Adkins at his best, the showdown versus Kane Kosugi is worth the price of admission alone!

Scott Adkins vs. Kane Kosugi! The Trailer for Ninja 2: Shadow of a Tear!

Posted in Kane Kosugi, Mika Hijii, Ron Smoorenburg, Scott Adkins with tags , on September 9, 2013 by Michael S. Moore

Ninja 2

Scott Adkins, how we’ve missed you! While we all await Undisputed 4 (if it still happens) we return to one of Scott’s other popular characters, Casey the Ninja, who looks to have settled in with Mika Hijii from the events of the previous film, but you know in action hero realm that means the family has gotta get jacked up so the hero can return to action, and he does so here. The action looks less comic-booky and more Ong Bak-ish than the previous film, but you’ll get no complaints from me. Adkins looks to be in fine form. Toss in a fight with Ron Smoorenburg (Who Am I?) and what looks like a bigger budget, and we have the makings of a great martial arts film! Check out the trailer below!

Review: Choy Lee Fut (2011)

Posted in Kane Kosugi, Lar Kar Wing, Sammo Hung, Sammy Hung, Yuen Wah with tags , , on July 20, 2011 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Sammy Hung, Kane Kosugi, Sammo Hung, Yuen Wah, Lar Kar Wing

Fight Choreography by Sammo Hung and Sam Wong

Directed by Sam Wong and Tommy Lor

Choy Lay Fut (also spelled Choy Lee Fut and Choy Li Fut) is a southern style of kung fu that emphasizes long range striking along with continuous and powerful hand techniques and fluid footwork. There have been very few films made about the form, and since it is the style I am a practitioner of, I was pleased as punch when I heard they were finally making a serious film about it. After seeing the film I must say…

…I’m still waiting for that film, ‘cause this ain’t it.

The film stars Sammy Hung as Jie Chen, a young man who live in the UK along with his Japanese best friend Ken Takeda (Kosugi). Both young men are living day to day in England with no real direction, but Jie gets a visit from his father Wai-Yip (Sammo) who is traveling the world bringing Choy Lee Fut to wherever he goes. After a long talk Jie decides to return home, and brings Ken with him, since Ken wants to study Choy Lee Fut. No sooner do they return to the family school than they find trouble when the current teacher, Wai-Yip’s brother Tin-Cheuk (Wah), a teacher and major pothead is being harassed by a local Choy Lay Fut corporation, Pan-American International,  to buy out the school, which has been given permission to buy the school from Jie’s father.  Jie talks their representative, Xia, into a duel between the two organizations, with 3 million dollars and ownership of the school itself in the balance. Things get complicated when Jie falls in love with Xia, and she may or may not feel the same way, but Jie, Ken, and senior teacher Si-Hai Ren find that they will have to train harder than they ever have before using traditional techniques versus the modern equipment and training used by the three fighters they will have to face…

If this film is about Choy Lay Fut, then except for a few scenes and moments it’s more about Jie trying to cultivate a silly relationship with Xia that could have been left on the cutting room floor, but takes up the majority of the film’s running time. The few moments that actually have to do with their training are okay, the best being the training sequence with the three masters, one of whom is Shaw Brothers star Lar Kar Wing as a Hung Gar master. Even this isn’t very well done, leaving us with a brief montage of their training with these masters, which really should have taken up a far larger part of the film. At least the music was cool in this scene. The only real fights come at the end of the film during the tournament, but these are horribly edited, and the best fight involves Kane Kosugi and Ian Powers, but even that is compromised in post-production. If the fight choreography is good, I sure as hell couldn’t tell as they went MTV crazy with the editing. Also, a fight between Yuen Wah and Sammo Hung takes place on a mountain with obvious green screens being the background for the fight. So they couldn’t find one damn real mountain in China to film on? Really?

Sammy Hung is okay, but has a looooong way to go before he’s anywhere near as good as his father. Kane, on the other hand, is every bit as good as you would expect, and is a better actor than Sammy. Both boys are still young, and can forge their own path in martial arts cinema, but they’ll need to get away from films like this. The script itself is terrible and only Yuen Wah’s fun character keeps things from going completely bad.

If you are looking for a film about Choy Lay Fut, you won’t find it here. Nothing about the form is explained, and it ends up being a film that has no heart, no character, and not much in the way of fighting, which is the cardinal sin here. Probably the most disappointing film of the year for me so far. It does have really cool soundtrack, however. If only more care had been placed into the film itself.

(On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best):

CHOREOGRAPHY: (4) Of all of Sammo’s films, this one has to be the worst. It’s hard to say who the real culprit is, Sammo himself or the editing, but both combine to make a really weak effort.

STUNTWORK: (2) Yeah. You won’t find much fighting here, so what do the stuntmen have to do?

STAR POWER: (7) Sammo Hung, Yuen Wah, Kane Kosugi, Lar Kar Wing should have been able to elevate this film. They couldn’t, and that should tell you all you need to know. Sammy was okay, but just barely.

FINAL GRADE: (3) This is a terrible film, more so if you are a martial arts film fan, and perhaps even more if you are a Choy Lay Fut practitioner. This may very well be Sammo and Yuen Wah’s worst film.


Review: Pray For Death (1985)

Posted in Kane Kosugi, Reviews, Sho Kosugi with tags , , , on December 27, 2010 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Sho Kosugi, Kane Kosugi, Shane Kosugi

Fight Choreography by Sho Kosugi

Directed by Gordon Hessler

This film should serve as a public service announcement to mobsters everywhere. Should a badass ninja warrior board your boat, jack up twenty of your hired goons, and appear behind you with a knife and threatens to kill you in such a way that you’ll pray for death before it’s over if you don’t stop jacking with his family and then disappears without a trace, you should probably leave his family the hell alone. One such mobster named Limehouse decides not to listen to this, and a very brutal lesson is learned.

Sho Kosugi plays Akira Saito, a business man who hides from his children (it’s hinted that his wife knows) that he is in fact a badass retired ninja, and we find out the reason why he retired when we go into a flash back to find that his martial arts brother dressed as a ninja and tried to steal from the temple, and is stopped after a good fight not by Saito, but from clumsiness that comes straight from a Home Alone film as he slips on his scabbard and impales himself on his own sword he had stabbed into a pillar a moment earlier. Okay, so the impaling isn’t Home Alone, but I betcha that would’ve made that film a whole lot cooler. Anyway, as Saito’s wife Aiko is mixed race anglo-american and japanese, he decides to move his family to Houston, Texas so she can be closer to that side of her family over there. Unfortunately since you know this film’s called Pray for Death, you just know shit has to go wrong, and that will probably cost his wife Aiko her life. The kid’s will make it because they are a) Sho’s sons in real life, and b) they’re contractually obligated to live…and kick ass. Saito buys a restaurant from retiree, and changes it to a Japanese restaurant. Unknown to Saito, and even the previous owner, is that the local mob is using the back room of the restaurant to move stolen merchandise that a pair of corrupt cops leave for them. Two cops decide to keep an expensive necklace for themselves, and that sets off a tragic chain of events as Limehouse and his mob believe that Saito has the necklace.

They start by kidnapping Saito’s youngest son Tomoya while he oldest son Takeshi is beating up some local kids who try to steal Tomoya’s bicycle, and Kane is great in this scene, beating the crap out of these kids. Limehouse sees this when he takes Tomoya to his car, and instead of trying to fight Takeshi, he saves himself the embarrassment by punching Takeshi dead in the face as he runs up to the car, and then knocks the shit out of him with the car door. I’ll give it up for Limehouse here. Yeah, that’s a dick move, but he thought it better than being beaten up like a bitch by a eight-year-old.

Saito goes to get Tomoya back from Limehouse, and escapes with his son. Further pissed off Limehouse has some of his men hit Aiko and Tomoya with a car. I mean, shit. Limehouse doesn’t believe in doing any half-assed. Aiko and Tomoya are both still alive and taken to the hospital, and Saito pays a visit to Limehouse’s boat where he’s having a party. Saito decides that black leather clothing would suffice instead of a ninja costume, and sneaks his way onto the boat and delivers the public service announcement I had already mentioned.

Not really understanding the three strikes rule, Limehouse infiltrates the hospital and kills Aiko (told you) and gets away before he can do the same to Tomoya. Not really caring for the police, Saito takes his sons to a warehouse he owns and is so pissed off he forges his own sword in the warehouse. Do you realize how pissed off you have to be to do this? The work, the heat, the money spent, oh shit yeah, someone’s gonna die badly.

Not only that, but after he leaves for vengeance, Takeshi has to defend Tomoya from the mobsters who find out he’s there, and does so with the aid of a ninja bicycle. Damn right, this bike is a 4-speed and also has detachable nunchaku, pink gas that erupts from the back, a slingshot you can draw back and smack a guy right in the nuts should he grab the bike from the front, and side bars that can come out and trip up anyone he rides by. That is simply badass. You leave to kill people, but you also leave your little boy a ninja death bicycle. Once I have a kid he’s getting one of those. Damn straight.

The final fight isn’t great or well done as Limehouse is more of a challenge than he should be, but the moment he meets his end would make the Jigsaw killer in Saw really happy as Limehouse meets a bloody end that really does make him pray for death. Saito returns to his sons, and they decide to stay in the USA since there is so much more ass to kick here.

The film has really shoddy production values, and unfortunately most of Sho Kosugi’s American films do, but Sho and his sons elevate the film, even overcoming terrible cinematography that add nothing to the fight scenes. The acting is terrible, but Sho’s onscreen presence is undeniable. The fight scenes range from okay to decent, and features some good ninja stuff, but overall could have been much better. This is one film that really took itself way too seriously.

(Out of scale of 1-10, 10 being the best)

CHOREGRAPHY: (6) Sho is capable of much better, but the fight scenes were not too exciting. This is largely due to the fact that he doesn’t fight anyone who knows anything.

STUNTS: (4) Not great. Bad reaction deaths from the mobsters, and it all looked really fake.

STAR POWER: (7) Sho and Kane. That’s it.

FINAL GRADE: (5) Sho has done much better than this, and while not terrible, doesn’t really do much to advance the genre nor is terribly enjoyable to watch more than once. It’s still great to watch Sho onscreen, however.

Review: Revenge of the Ninja (1983)

Posted in Kane Kosugi, Keith Vitali, Professor Toru Tanaka, Reviews, Sho Kosugi with tags , , on December 7, 2010 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Sho Kosugi, Kane Kosugi, and Keith Vitali

Fight Choreography by Sho Kosugi

Directed by Sam Firstenberg

Ah yes, another ninja movie from Cannon films. This time, however, they decided to go and get a real ninja to play one! Golan and Globus are getting smarter all the time! All kidding aside, why the hell does Sam Firstenberg get these films to direct? He’s not a martial artist in any way I’m aware of, but his filmography is full of martial arts flicks. Of course, they are all Cannon films, so perhaps he’s a friend to Golan or Globus (I love saying their names. They sound like James Bond villains!). I have to say I truly miss Cannon films. They cranked out martial arts and action flicks by the dozen, kinda like Saw movies.

They were low budget, not especially well acted most of the time, but always a hell of a lot of fun, not unlike a less crazier and larger budgeted Troma film, or a less expensive Luc Besson production. One thing about Cannon: you always knew what the hell you were in for, and this time Sho Kosugi jumps into action from the guys who would soon bring you American Ninja.

The film opens with a daytime ninja attack on the family of Cho Osaki, and the family is massacred Troma style except for Ninja Auntie and Cho’s baby son Kane. Holy shit, that’s a badass name. I now want to name my first son Kane. Who would jack with a kid named Kane? Doesn’t “Kane” sound like an Old Testament ass-whupping can be in your future if you mess with someone with that name? But I digress. Cho returns home with his American business partner Braden to see everyone dead except for Ninja Auntie and Kane. He barely has a chance to see the body of his dead wife when Ninjas come out by the dozen to kill Cho, and they needed every one of them as Cho turns on the ninja juice and starts slicing and dicing them in a good fight scene that is not particularly well shot, but does just enough to get the fight scene across. Note to all future ninjas: if three of you are going to launch arrows at a dude like Cho, it might be a good idea to fire your arrows AT THE SAME TIME. Three jackasses fire their arrows one at a time, allowing a badass like Cho to catch two in the hand and one with his teeth, and use two of them to skewer their ninja buddy trying to kill Cho from just under the bridge Cho’s standing on. After the ninja population is severely depleted, Cho, Ninja Auntie, and Kane go to the USA on the advice of Braden, but of course Ninja Auntie has to bring the whole party down by mentioning that the ninjas would follow them to the USA and find them eventually.

Fast forward six years later and Ninja Auntie walks seven-year old Kane home from school, and he gets ambushed by a group of bullies who decide to kick his ass for some unknown reason, but his name is Kane, and they should have known better. Hell, even Ninja Auntie sat back to watch the epic asskicking these kids were about to receive, and did they ever! He beats the crap out of these kids, all of whom regret having things like testicles that can get punched or kicked in, and Cho shows up just in time to a) stop Kane from showing him up. After all, this is his flick, and b) he was proud of the beatdown his son gave, but doesn’t want his son to be arrested by the police, ‘cause he’d probably kick their asses too.

Once again Ninja Auntie takes all the fun out of it by reminding them that the ninjas are out there, and he needs to teach Kane how to be one. We next meet Braden’s lady, Cathy, who is learning from Cho, and even trying to turn him on by fighting wearing only a small top, and flesh-colored hose to cover up everything else. Their sparring beats just about every fight in American Ninja.

We come to find out that the Japanese art exhibit is a front to smuggle heroin into the United States and wherever, and Braden is the lead dog on it, having a deal fall through with the local mafia. So Braden goes screw it, and becomes Ninja Braden, and starts wasting mafioso’s like a slasher flick. This brings the police into it, and one of Cho’s friends, Dave Hatcher (Vitali). Cho and Dave have a pretty good sparring fight as well. They team up to defeat Ninja Braden, who kidnaps Kane and Cathy in order to draw Cho out for a final fight.

The film is full of good, solid ninja moments. The fight scenes are well done, but I’m not so sure about the shoddy camera work. They chose some funky angles to show the action from. Sho brings the fight and the pain, and anytime he or Kane are in the film it get exciting. There’s even one scene where he’s engaged by remnants of the Village People and after a bit remembers that he’s a freakin’ ninja! He then dispatches the shit out them really fast. One baddie got away, because he hit Sho with a van. Keith Vitali has too few scenes, and his final fight with Ninja Braden really sucks. Speaking of which, Braden has a chef played by Professor Toru Tanaka, who has like two scenes before he gets killed for inexplicable trying to rape Cathy and is killed by Braden.

Favorite Ninja moment: Ninja Braden arrives at the mafia’s headquarters and starts to pick a lock. One of the guards sees him from down the hall, and starts making his way to Braden, who tosses some ninja caltrops behind him, and without looking then tosses some metal balls. Guard slips on metal balls and falls face first on the caltrops and dies painfully. Very, very cool scene.

2nd Favorite Ninja moment: Cho infiltrates mafia headquarters to find Ninja Braden, and has a guard remove his mask, and he blows steel spikes into the dude’s face! Never take a ninja’s mask off!

I have to say a word about Kane. At the time he had to be the best martial arts kid in film, and I’ll say even better than Ernie Reyes Jr. was at the time. He has convincing fights versus adults and kids alike, and his sword kata scene is awesome.

This was Sho’s second film and first starring role under the house of Cannon Films, which he would never really leave, and was able to turn out a pretty good starring role for himself. The productions values weren’t much better than American Ninja, but Sho elevated the material with his excellent fight choreography.

(On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best)

CHOREOGRAPHY: (8) Sho showed up and brought excellent ninja fight choreography with him. The fights were fast but well done, and was able to show off quite a few ninjitsu moves. The final fight did leave a bit to be desired, however.

STUNTS: (7) The stuntmen did a good job, and even the stunt kids and Kane did a good job holding their own with the adults.

STAR POWER: (8) Sho Kosugi is synonymous with the word ninja, and his son Kane has starred in few films of his own, but he’s still looking for a star vehicle worthy of his skills. Keith Vitali would be one of the baddies in Wheels on Meals and kick the crap out of Sammo Hung. Professor Toru Tanaka didn’t have much to do, but it’s always good to see him.

FINAL GRADE: (8) A fun first starring film for Sho Kosugi, who wouldn’t star in too many more films, but made his presence felt in the martial arts film world. Not even the shoddy directing could mask his greatness.