Bullet Points: Rage of Honor
I would probably refer to myself as a Sho Kosugi aficionado, but there was actually one Sho Kosugi movie out there from his hey day in the 1980’s that I had never seen before, that movie was Rage of Honor.
Rage of Honor falls somewhere in the middle of the pack where Kosugi movies are concerned. It is not to the level of Pray for Death or Revenge of the Ninja, but it is no Ninja III: The Domination either. It is probably just behind Black Eagle and slightly ahead of 9 Deaths of the Ninja. So for those of you keeping track it is 1. Pray for Death, 2. Revenge of the Ninja, 3. Black Eagle, 4. Rage of Honor, 5. 9 Deaths of the Ninja, 6. Ninja III: The Domination.
- The Premise: In Rage of Honor, Sho plays Shiro Tanaka. Tanaka is an agent for the United States Drug Investigation Bureau (DIB for short?) As I have stated in previous reviews and posts, the war on drugs was big in the 80’s so it is really no surprise when good guys vs. drug dealers show up in movies and TV from that time period. Tanaka works with two partners (Ray and Dick) and this trio gets things done, and it really angers their boss Mr. Sterling. When Ray is killed by the main bad guy, Havlock, Tanaka goes after him… not for revenge mind you, but for honor and for this not being a revenge mission, Tanaka demonstrates a lot of rage going after this honor, but at least it is a rage of honor.
- Jam Packed: Allow me to describe to you the events that will unfold before your eyes within the first ten minutes of Rage of Honor. A drug dealer is throwing a big party on his yacht in Buenos Aries. Tanaka and his boys crash the party. One of the guards ends up with a gun in his pooper. The drug dealer tries to escape using a speed boat, but Tanaka commandeers a speed boat of his own and the chase is on. The chase ends after Tanaka delivers a throwing star to the neck of the drug dealer and he crashes his speed boat and it blows up. Then we get the first of many arguments between Tanaka and Tanaka gives his girlfriend a pearl necklace.
- No Army Can Stop Him: Kosugi not only shows off his impressive ninja skills in this one, he also incorporates the use of guns, forming a hybrid offense that allows him to take out a warehouse full of security guards, a jungle full of unfriendly natives and even an army of fellow ninjas that wear camouflage ninja gear and use flamethrowers.
- I Love the 80’s: If I was completely unaware that this movie was from the 1980’s two things would have given it away. First is the hairstyle of Havlock (Lewis Van Bergen) second is the fact that a theme in the plot is recovering a 5 1/4″ floppy disk with all the details of the drug dealing operation Havlock is involved in.
There are no surprises in this one. Unless you count the movie not incorporating either or both of Sho Kosugi’s sons (Kane & Shane) into the movie as a surprise.
Kosugi is a highly talented practitioner of the martial arts, but he’ll never be accused of being a great actor or for even having much personality. But he’s got mad ninja skills, which was enough for him to get by. If you aren’t a hardcore Kosugi or ninja fan, you will probably want to skip this one.
For those of you who plan on checking it out, here’s a few more things to look for…
- Improv: Don’t have a throwing star? No problem, use a saw blade instead.
- Recuperative Powers: At one point Tanaka gets caught in a jungle trap, but unless my eyes deceived me, moments later there was no blood or even holes in the shirt where he was spiked. I didn’t know the healing powers of the ninja transferred to the clothes they wore.
- DIY: Many of the ninja weapons used in the movie were designed by Sho Kosugi himself.