Awhile back, I reviewed the trailer for Karate Kill, and I thought it looked like a cross between a martial arts film and an exploitation film. The trailer instantly piqued my interest and I have been looking forward to it ever since. Recently, I got the chance to check out Karate Kill. Did it measure up to my expectations? Here are my thoughts.
Karate Kill is the latest from writer/director Kurando Mitsutake (Gun Woman 2014). The film stars Hayate, Asami (Machine Girl 2008), Kirk Geiger (Crazy Bitches/Get Crazier), Mana Sakura, Noriaki Kamata, and Katarina Leigh Waters.
When Karate master Kenji’s (Hayate) young sister (Mana Sakura) is kidnapped by a dangerous cult, and taken to the U.S. he will stop at nothing to find her. Partnered with a mysterious shot-gun toting partner, Kenji must use his mastery of Karate to dismantle the cult members one by one in spectacular and bloody fashion, until he finds his sister.
Karate Kill is the perfect melding of martial arts and exploitation and I absolutely loved it. The film features excellent fight scenes, great gore and lots of nudity. Some of the more violent bits include a man’s head getting shoved into a mirror, an ear being ripped off, a wooden sword to the side of the head, a man getting stabbed repeatedly before having his throat slashed, a few gunshots to the head, wrist cuttings, a hand being shoved down a garbage disposal, a shotgun blast exploding out of someone’s back, an eye getting jabbed out, a crushed hand, a self inflicted shot gun blast to the head, a hand being stabbed through a neck, and an insane fight scene in the trailer of a moving semi.
The fight scenes are shot up close and personal and it looks like a lot of the actors did their own fights/stunts. The fight scenes are fast, brutal and, most of all, fun. If I had one complaint in regards to the gore, it’s that there is some fairly obvious and annoying CGI blood spray and splatter during the end section of Karate Kill but it happened so late that it didn’t really affect my enjoyment much overall.
For someone who has no prior acting experience, I was pretty impressed with Hayate as Kenji. Without saying a whole lot, he manages to make the character likable. He speaks with his actions. He’s just an average guy (who happens to be a karate master) who is trying to save what little family he has left. Asami, who I absolutely loved in Machine Girl, does a great job as a shotgun-wielding badass with a hook for a hand. She’s beautiful, strong, and oozes sex appeal. Mana Sakura plays Kenji’s sister, Mayumi, and she really isn’t given much to do other than scream and be topless, but she does both well so I can’t complain. Kirk Geiger, Tomm Voss, and Katarina Leigh Waters round out the main cast as the villain and his henchmen respectively. They are extremely sadistic and twisted, yet manage to be fun and campy at the same time.
Karate Kill is a fucking blast from start to finish. It manages to be bloody and brutal enough to please horror fans while still being action packed and fun enough for the martial arts/action fans. If you dig martial arts films, horror films, exploitation films or films that aren’t afraid to cross genres, then I highly recommend you check out Karate Kill when its hits VOD and DVD/Blu-Ray on July 18th.