Beneath The Underground - Karate Kill

By Kirk Geiger on Jul 30, 2017 at 12:46 AM in Karate Kill, Kirk Geiger's Press
Beneath The Underground - Karate Kill Logo

Posted By Jim Morazzini on Jun 21, 2017

Having previously reviewed Kurando Mitsutake’s absolutely batshit insane revenge film GUN WOMAN I was beyond delighted when the screener for his latest film KARATE KILL appeared in my mailbox. And while it doesn’t quite reach Gun Woman’s level of creative gore and violence it still manages to be an incredibly fun dose of violent, bloody mayhem in the tradition of films like Sonny Chiba’sTHE STREET FIGHTER”.

Kenji (Hayate) is worried about his little sister Mayumi (Mana Sakura) who has vanished while studying in the US. After not hearing from her for a month he goes looking for her. After a violent encounter with her apartment’s new occupant Kenji gets a tip that Mayumi was working at a hostess club. After more violence he finds out the owner has sold her off to Capital Messiah, a cult with a sideline in snuff films. Kenji heads to their compound in Texas, joined along the way by Keiko (Asami GUN WOMAN, MACHINE GIRL) the only person to escape Capital Messiah and more than willing to join up with our hero. But everything isn’t what it seems and our heroes are in for a long, bloody fight.

KARATE KILL is a wonderful homage to grindhouse martial arts films, paying respect to them in a way a film like KILL BILL could only dream of. It has a low budget grittiness that can’t be emulated or faked, along with some inventive set pieces, such as an internet streamed fight to the death inside a barbed wire lined semi. Hayate channels Sonny Chiba as a take no shit killing machine. This is Hayate’s first film and he certainly has a future as an action hero. Asami’s character, with her hook hand and big gun is a nod to William Devane’s Major Charles Rane in ROLLING THUNDER, she even lost her hand in the same manner, something we see in a gory flashback. There’s also a quick cameo by Akihiro Kitamura referencing his part in HUMAN CENTIPEDE which gave me a chuckle.

The fight choreography is realistic and convincing with none of the wire work or camera tricks so common in the genre now. While I love a lot of contemporary martial arts films, there’s really no substitute for realistic, bone snapping fight scenes which this has plenty of. There’s also a good deal of mayhem rendered with guns and assorted sharp objects. Most of it is well done practical effects, but there is some unfortunately obvious CGI blood splatter in a few scenes.

One of the best, and most enjoyable films I’ve seen this year, KARATE KILL is perfect for action fans, and horror fans should enjoy it’s snuff angle as well. After this and GUN WOMAN I’ll be anxiously awaiting whatever Mitsutake does next.

There are a lot of great actors to be found in this movie, and far too many to mention. Who steals the show, however, is Geiger. If an award were to be handed out this year for Best Actor, Geiger deserves to win. His portrayal of Vendeski is flat-out superb, and quite an eye-opener. He brings such life into his sinister, crazed-out cult-leader character, flawlessly tackling this task. His facial expressions and line-delivery are spot-on. Geiger’s Vendeski will scare and creep-out any unsuspecting viewer, and even cause a few chuckles along the way.
Steven DeJoseph Jr.
Cryptic Rock