Karate Kill harkens back to a politically incorrect era of filmmaking filled with Oh-My-God moments. From writer/director Kurando Mitsutake, Karate Kill is a martial arts movie featuring over-the-top gore, gallons of fake blood, and an abundance of nudity. I also forget to mention the racist cult leader, internet snuff films, and abundance of nudity.
Karate Kill is the nickname of the film’s hero, Kenji (Hayate). Overworked Kenji comes to Los Angeles from Japan to find his sister, Mayumi (Mana Sakura). Mayumi came to Los Angeles to study and become an actress. Kenji’s investigation leads him to a seedy Japanese gentlemen’s club where Mayumi worked as a hostess. Then to a racist cult compound specializing in producing real internet snuff films where Mayumi has been enslaved.
“…a martial arts movie featuring over-the-top gore, gallons of fake blood, and an abundance of nudity.”
Let’s break Karate Kill down a little bit. The film’s karate and martial arts are above average but not the greatest. Moves are enhanced by canned sound effects and creative camera angles. Each fight ends with an over-the-top grotesque finishing move of dismemberment or a massive stream of blood. Early on, Kenji ends a fight by grabbing his opponent’s ear, rips it out of his head and tosses it into a glass of booze.
The story is filled with hokey melodrama. After the death of their parents, Kenji promises to always protect his sister by becoming a karate master. Let’s just say that plan does not work. I mean it really doesn’t work. From there the story is all about Kenji being just a step away from finding his sister. Kenji is also faced with the problem of guns and defeating bullets, which plays a significant role in the plot.
The villain is Vandenski (Kirk Geiger), the leader of an internet cult called Capital Messiah. Still fuming over the attack on Pearl Harbor (which he is way too young), Vandenski seeks revenge on the Japanese. The cult live-streams their outrage by torturing and murdering Japanese girls and pitting Japanese men against each other in death battles.
“…Kenji promises to always protect his sister by becoming a karate master. Let’s just say that plan does not work.”
No cult classic would be complete without gratuitous nudity. Practically, every woman in this film is topless at some point. The problem is the nudity is always associated with violence and almost crosses the line of misogyny. Who am I kidding? It not only crosses the line but goes for the touchdown. I’m not a big proponent of political correctness in storytelling, but Karate Kill makes no attempt to put a little irony or wink into these moments.
Bad acting and hokey storyline aside, Karate Kill is filmed brilliantly. Director Mitsutake went through the trouble of planning each shot meticulously. He is constantly looking for the most interesting angle. During one battle, Mitsutake rotates the camera 360 degrees. This unique film style makes his low budget sets and locations look interesting too.
Karate Kill is going for a specific niche audience, who like martial arts, blood, and boobs. There is a lot to love in this film, but it’s the sadistic treatment of women that makes it hard to give a recommendation.
Karate Kill (2016) Written and directed by Kurando Mitsutake. Starring: Hayate, Mana Sakura, Asami, Kirk Geiger, Katarina Leigh Waters.
2 out of 5