Karate Kill (2016) movie review
They killed his master, now he must kill them!
No, wait, that’s the other one.
They did … something, to his little sister and she has gone missing in Los Angeles, so whoever stands in his way of finding her will face the wrath of mysterious loner and lethal Karate master Kenji.
In some rare cases, a film is so free from pretense, so upfront with its motives and influences, you can get a pretty good idea just from looking at the poster. KARATE KILL is one such movie.
If you like what you see in that poster, there’s a damned good chance you’ll enjoy Kurando Mitsutake’s KARATE KILL. To be honest, this writer was more or less sold by the title. My expectations, going into the film, were that a person or persons would be killed and that Karate would be involved somehow. The film delivers on that promise in spades.
KARATE KILL follows a Japanese martial artist, Kenji, as he searches for his sister, who has gone missing in America. Kenji is a man of few words, and many punches. His search takes him on an odyssey through the darkest parts of America, from seedy criminal nightclubs in LA to a cult compound in Texas. And along the way, you’d better believe he kills some fools with Karate.
Highlights include an uninterrupted single take in which he fights five opponents, and an open-handed fight against an opponent armed with a sword, which takes place in the back of a speeding truck. Hayate’s style strikes a nice balance between looking flashy and looking brutally efficient. One can only hope we get to see more of his unique brand of Karate on the screen in the future.
Not everyone is going to find the same joy I did when the crazed cult leader starts chewing scenery, or when Kenji must learn to dodge bullets in a lengthy training montage. But if you like the promises of the poster, ridiculously violent Karate fights, or the Cannon films of the ’80s, see this movie.
Please note, Karate Kill is not to be confused with 1976’s Karate Killer. Or with 1976’s Karate Kill. Or 1976’s Kill or Be Killed, widely hailed as the greatest karate movie of all time. Actually, all three are the same movie; it also went by Karate Olympia. Karate Kill is also not to be confused with 1976’s Karate Warriors, either. Or 1976’s The Bodyguard, originally released as Karate Kiba. Or 1976’s Lady Karate. Or 1976’s The Stronger Karate. Or 1976’s Karate from Shaolin Temple, which doesn’t even make sense.
1976 was awesome.