Rage of Honor
Directed by: Gordon Hessler
Run time: 98 minutes
The Lowdown: Man, oh man, when I was a teenager growing up in the 1980s, I absolutely loved
Shô Kosugi and his amazing ninja skills.
You couldn’t go see a ninja movie in the theater without knowing who Kosugi was. From “Enter the
Ninja” to “Revenge of the Ninja” to “Ninja III: The Domination” (my personal favorite) and “Nine
Deaths of the Ninja,” Kosugi kicked ass in a string of quickly made action flicks from 1981 to 1985.
By that point, Kosugi was ready to test his box office appeal on a broader stage, and so Rage of
Honor was born as a vehicle to allow Kosugi to non-ninja his way into America’s collective movie-going
Rage of Honor is a straight-up police action thriller not unlike similar films of that era starring
Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme and more. Kosugi plays Shiro, a Japanese cop tracking a
vicious drug syndicate to Singapore and South America, determined to extract revenge for the
murder of his partner.
It’s not a particularly great action movie – not like, say, “Ninja III: The Domination,” which features
demonic possession, ninja bad-assery and aerobics – but it features enough truly memorable,
“What the hell was that?” moments that one quickly understands why Arrow Video decided to
make a high-definition transfer release.
Despite stating his intention to stay away from his more-recognizable antics, Kosugi still comes off
like a skilled martial arts assassin, only he’s wearing a dress shirt and slacks instead of the
traditional shinobi shozoko worn by ninjas. He kicks, he chops, he makes multiple free-standing
back flips and he uses throwing stars that contain explosives! (Fun fact – Kosugi personally
designed many of the weapons employed during the fight scenes.)
Rage of Honor also benefits from the capable lens of director Gordon Hessler, who gave us such
genre greats as “The Golden Voyage of Sinbad,” “The Oblong Box” and “KISS Meets the Phantom of
Hessler’s playful eye allows certain scenes, such as the opening police raid on board a yacht
populated by drug dealers and party-goers, to explode in a flurry of frenetic violence.
My personal favorite scene comes near the midway mark when Kosugi is casing a suspected drug
facility in Singapore. Hessler’s camera trains on the security fence, showing a distracted guard
through the chain links. Suddenly, Kosugi’s face pops up from below the frame, staring directly into
the camera, before he executes a wicked back flip over the fence and knocking the guard
unconscious with his nunchucks mid-flip before landing safely on his feet.
It’s awesome and hysterical, all at the same time, much like the bulk of Kosugi’s storied
The Stuff You Care About:
Hot chicks – Not really.
Nudity – Brief. Gore – Minimal
Drug use – Yes.
Bad Guys/Killers – South American drug cartels.
Buy/Rent – Fans of ‘80s exploitation action will want to own this one for the special features
alone, including a good interview with Shô Kosugi reflecting on the film, plus trailers for all his
famous ninja flicks and more.
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