Sho Kosugi is at it again in this film from 1987. Directed by Gordon Hessler who previously directed the Kosugi film Pray for Death (1985), and who would direct Kosugi in the future alongside Christopher Lee (!) in Journey of Honor. Once again the film was produced by Trans World Entertainment. Again Kosugi does the fight choreography as well. This film however is not the strongest in Kosugi’s filmography or Hesslers.
Kosugi plays Shiro a Japanese cop on the hunt for some seriously bad international drug dealers. He’s married to his job and is constantly thrown into dangerous situations (and we wouldn’t have it any other way), but his lady doesn’t like it. She leaves Shiro which breaks his ninja heart. She’s then kidnapped by the same drug thugs that he’s after along with his good buddy Ray. Shiro must then infiltrate the jungles that hide the drug lord’s operations in order to save his lady his buddy and take out the trash.
Automatically it isn’t the most original storyline. The 80’s were saturated with similarly plotted films. It’s almost as if the screenwriter Robert Short dug through a hat full of clichés. That wouldn’t be a problem, in fact it could be a plus, but the film lacks oomph for lack of a better word. The action is well executed and we even get some over the top ninja action, though to be honest, not much. The problem is the film feels like was made for no real purpose. There’s a distinct lack of passion going on and it really hampers the vibe of the film. It feels like the budget was lacking and so was the enthusiasm. Maybe everyone was really hungry and wanted to grab a donut and the only thing in their way was making this pesky movie? The film takes place in multiple locations around the world so one would think that the exotic locations would make the film feel more impressive but instead it just looks cheap. I love Kosugi and he puts in a performance that matches any other film. He goes full tilt and I appreciate that about him, the problem is the film just feels stagnant and dull.
The presentation of the film however is fantastic and I wouldn’t expect anything less from Arrow. If you’re new to Kosugi, Revenge of the Ninja or Ninja III: The Domination are better places to start. Rage of Honor is not a terrible film it’s just a bit lackluster. It’s head and shoulders above Black Eagle so there’s that. I was hoping for more bonkers over the top action but instead the film feels middle of the road.