Rage of Honor (1987) (Blu-ray Review)
Directed By: Gordon Hessler
Starring: Shô Kosugi, Lewis Van Bergen, Robin Evans
Rated: R/Region A/1:85/1080p/Number of Discs 1
Available from Arrow Video
Following his star turns in 80s actioners Enter the Ninja and Revenge of the Ninja, Sho Kosugi continued his domination of the US martial arts movie with 1987 s Rage of Honor helmed once again by Pray for Death director Gordon Hessler (The Golden Voyage of Sinbad). Federal agent Shiro Tanaka (Kosugi) used to live for his job now, he lives only for revenge. When his partner is killed during a bungled drug bust, Shiro throws away his badge and the rule book with it: arming himself with an array of deadly weaponry including nunchucks, blades and ninja stars he sets out to Buenos Aires to settle the score with the bad guys. Packing explosions, flying kicks and somersaults aplenty (as well as some truly logic-bending stunt sequences), Rage of Honor sees Kosugi at the top of his game as he battles his way from the streets of the urban jungle to the very literal jungles of South America.
Unlike Pray for Death and Enter the Ninja, Shô Kosugi’s Rage of Honor isn’t as much of a ninja movie more so than just a film showing Shô Kosugi being a bad ass. Which, rest a sure those moments in this movie is when this movie is at its best. We open with Shô and a couple of his officer comrades doing a big drug bust. Soon after at least one of those buddies follows a bust solo to his doom. That and the idea that it might have been an inside job leads Shô’s character on the trail that leads to even more trouble for his other friend and his woman. The movie has a bit of “who done it” flavor to it, as we wait to find out who is the inside man. That question is answered soon, but the bad guys are sorta lead by a very charismatic villain that gives Shô a good challenge. The movie does tend to drag, however, when someone isn’t doing battle. That is the only downer of the film, but it can be a big downer from time to time, as we just wait for something to happen. But, it does make-up for things a bit when you take into account that most the action scenes we do get here are top-notch, even if the movie does fall very short of Pray for Death standards. Not that it is a bad movie, but it just isn’t a movie on THAT level. And as silly as it sounds, Shô’s character doesn’t dawn the Ninja gear in this movie and I think that is a bit of a let-down, even if it really shouldn’t matter at all.
One of the charms the movie has is the battle between our leading man and the leading bad guy. These guys tie up more than once here. It goes on and on and on it seems, which gets a bit amusing, especially near the end. I guess they were aiming for an epic feel there, but it seems to be a bit more ironic than anything. We do see pretty much the kitchen sink tossed at the hero in this one and I admit there were times I wasn’t even sure how he’d get out of them. I guess when it all is said and done, the movie ends much better than it starts. If we didn’t have such a slow and sluggish middle, then I’d probably be giving this one a high score than I am. We do get a solid transfer, one that has a lot of grain, but detail is still there. We also get the second half of the Shô Kosugi interview we got started on with the Pray for Death release. Arrow doesn’t toss in a DVD with this release, but I don’t think it is missed at all anyway. I can’t imagine too many people pick up Arrow releases for the DVD disc anyway. Regardless, it is a good enough movie. One that can be fun, but not great. It looks good enough and comes with the tender love and care for Cinema all Arrow release come with.
– High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation from a transfer of original elements by MGM
– Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
– Sho and Tell Part 2: The Domination brand new interview with star Sho Kosugi on Rage of Honor and the later stages of his film career
– Sho Kosugi Trailer Gallery: Enter the Ninja (1981), Revenge of the Ninja (1983), Pray for Death (1985) and Rage of Honor (1987)
– Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin
– The first pressing includes a collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film and an extract from Kosugi s upcoming book
Quality of Transfer: 88%