Dread Central - Karate Kill Review

By Kirk Geiger on Jul 23, 2017 at 11:43 PM in Karate Kill, Kirk Geiger's Press

written by: Mr. Dark

Cannon Films lives!

In spirit, anyway.

Karate Kill from Gun Woman director Kurando Mitsutake if everything we loved about that great era of over-the-top action films and more.  It’s 1987 again, folks.

Karate Kill has the classic Cannon story structure.  Kenji (Hayate) is a karate master who is working hard to support his little sister (Mana Sakura).  She’s left Japan to come to LA and study acting, but suddenly she stops contacting Kenji.  He’s left with no choice but to go to America and find out what happened to her.

Of course, this being the kind of movie it is, this involves a sadistic cult of murder-worshiping psychos who sell snuff films online.

The movie starts with a gunshot, and before the opening credits run we have several naked tits, two brutal martial arts beat downs, and a vigorous ass eating.  Not beating, eating.  Motorboat city.  Yeah.

That sets the tone.  While Gun Woman was a dark and gritty revenge tale, this is a batshit insane revenge tale with a boob-per-minute ratio that’d make Joe Bob Briggs a happy man.  Blood is copious, which is what pushes this martial arts action flick into horror territory.  The cult, Capital Messiah, is bad news, and their hijinx lead to a great deal of red stuff spilling everywhere.  There’s slicing, there’s shooting, there’s a garbage disposal.

Much like Gun Woman, this is a Japanese/American co-production.  90% of the dialogue is in Japanese, subtitled, but make no mistake: this is an American movie. This is the movie Chuck Norris would have made if he’d had a period where he did way too much cocaine.

Kenji’s trip to the Texas desert to confront the cult and rescue his sister is chock-full of set pieces straight out of Breaker, Breaker as he cuts a swath through Japanese gangsters and redneck racists alike.  Eventually he runs into the one-handed Keiko (Gun Woman’s Asami) who adds her firearm know-how to Kenji’s unarmed prowess.  Is there a training montage?  Of course!  Do Kenji and Keiko get it on before the final battle?  Absolutely!  How did Keiko come to have all those weapons and that prosthetic hand despite barely escaping Capital Messiah with her life?  Who gives a rat’s ass!  You’ll be far too busy enjoying the mayhem to care.

One thing the movie definitely shares with the Cannon pictures of old is the budget, and it does hurt it.  The over-presence of CGI gore is noticeable and annoying, although likely mandated by the budget constraints.  It doesn’t derail things, but while there are still buckets of physical grue, there are at least two or three major segments where visible CGI blood FX kick you out of the action.

By the time Kenji finally karate kills his way to face cult leader Vendenski (Kurt Geiger in a gleefully maniacal performance) you’ll be grinning from ear to ear.  With visible influences ranging from Bruce Lee to Tarantino, Mitsutake-san has created something that’s just a joy to watch.  It doesn’t try to be more than it is: the best of something cinema gave up, returned to us in crimson glory.  Somewhere, Golan and Globus are smiling down on us.

CLICK HERE to read the original Dread Central review


"The real showcase here is Kirk Geiger as Vendenski. An utterly amazing nut-case of a performance. I hadn't heard of Geiger beforehand, but I'll be keeping my eye on him from now on."
Stephen Harper
The Slaughtered Bird Magazine