Kenji, a karate master who keeps to himself, learns of his little sister’s disappearance so he flies to the US to find her and kill anyone who gets in his way. Writer/director Kurando Mitsutake builds a crazy fun action film. His film not a character study and that is perfectly fine. It’s build like an 80’s action film on steroids which mean the characters are okay, the bad guys are really bad and the good guys are not so numerous. However, the fight scenes are many and highly entertaining. The film is built to showcase the fighting and the action, the kidnapping of the little sister is only a reason for the lead to go nuts and fight everyone in his path to get her back. The film is in both Japanese and English adding an angle to Kenji’s travel to the US as he does not speak English and must rely on other Japanese people for most of his communications. The cultural differences are there from that but also seem to be exaggerated for the sake of entertainment.
This also means that this film is not exactly politically correct throughout, which if the viewer selected this film, they should be able to handle this along with the high levels of violence. The lead in this film is more than a lead; the film is made to celebrate his martial arts and fighting capacities. This lead is played by Hayate who’s first and only film this is. He’s great with his fight scenes, kicking and beating everyone in his path while his acting is decent. Playing his sister Mayumi is Mana Sakura who puts more emotions in her part while also being a fairly basic damsel in distress. The fact that the two are brother and sister does change from the usual damsel/savior dynamic that usually adds a romantic angle to things which Karate Kills thankfully keeps for another character. During his travels and fights, Kenji meets Keiko played by genre favorite Asami who is badass and not one to be messed with here.
With the number of fights in this movie, the stunt coordinator must be named and praised. Keiya Tabuchi does fantastic work here, creating crazy, fascinating, violent, and entertaining as can be fights. The fights are what this movie is about really. It’s a long string of punches, and kicks, and head butts, and…, and…, and… It’s great. The fighting is clearly tailored to lead Hayate’s specialty and capacities, adding a few things to go with Asami’s badassery. The film gains a lot from those fights that feel right out of an 80’s to early 90’s action flick. The set-ups for these are simple, but the main events of each of these are great.
Helping this film feel like an 80’s action flick are the cinematography by Toshiyuki Imai and the editing by Sam Yano. Their work put together give the film the right look and the right feel. The editing is thankfully done in a clear manner and the fights are visible which is something that is not done enough is. This editing adds to the action and helps the viewer enjoy the film. Karate Kill is one of those movies that makes the viewers say “Fuck Yeah” multiple times while watching. It’s fun and it’s insane. The fights are great to watch and the filmmaker knows this and gives the public what they are looking for. The film does not hold back, has plenty of violence, bad language, and nudity. It’s not a politically correct film and will not be for everyone, but the fans of its genre should love it.
Philadelphia Unnamed Film Festival had its first edition on October 6th through October 9th, 2016.