Karate Warriors (1976)

Kazuhiko Yamaguchi’s “Karate Warriors” (aka “Killing Fist and Child”) is a solid action film mainly because of Sonny Chiba, and because Chiba’s charisma makes up for the overall plot’s shortcomings. His mystique is often entertaining and there are also the pre-requisite great fight sequences. Chiba is a force of nature here, and like “Yojimbo” he plays the rival gangs against one another for his own personal sake.

The fourth in the “Street Fighter” series, Chiba is Tsurugi a man who’s embarked on a town where two gangs are in constant war, and all affairs are run by them. People in the town are gang members and gang members only and Chico’s mild mannered attempts at a job at interrupted by the brewing tensions that pull him in. After meeting a little boy, Tsurugi comes across a samurai named Mizuki who works for one of the gangs in town and attempts to get him a position as one of the henchmen after beating up a group of would-be kidnappers.

“Karate Warriors” is a ridiculously simplistic action film that’s based around gangs running back and forth yelling at each other, a mysterious penchant for rape on poor hapless women, and Sonny Chiba kicking a lot of gang ass, and kick it he does. Dressed in a brown leather jacket, the man is really an Eastwood-like individual that arrives in town and suddenly is forced to interact with the villains.

Here the whole gang life really appeals to him, and he’s hardly what you’d call a hero in the end. Like most Grindhouse fare of this ilk, “Karate Warriors” can definitely be tedious and rather nonsensical, but that’s kind of par for the course. The plot is slim thus placing the action forward as the primary motive for viewing, and Chiba’s primary characterization is his ability to look bad ass throwing a round house kick or flipping off a henchman’s head in mid air.