ASIAN FILM - Review
15:00 - 9th July 2016, by David West

Pray For Death

This 1985 ninja-flick was the second of three collaborations between director Gordon Hessler and martial artist Sho Kosugi, sandwiched between TV series The Master and 1987’s Rage Of Honour.

This time, Kosugi plays Akira Saito, who moves his family from Japan to the US to open a restaurant. Unfortunately, Saito’s family is targeted by mobsters searching for a diamond necklace, fronted by the violent and sadistic Limehouse Willie (James Booth).

The script, written by Booth, is no masterpiece. The tone shifts from cutesy slapstick to torture and murder, the missing necklace plot device is clumsy, while a subplot involving Saito’s brother serves no useful purpose at all. As ever with these movies, the appeal lies in the action scenes, and Kosugi uses Pray For Death as a vehicle to showcase the talents of his young son Kane who performs some of the most entertaining set pieces in the film, particularly when he’s fighting off would-be bike thieves. Kosugi’s own fight sequences make great use of acrobatics and stunt doubles, the latter of which is most apparent in the big showdown with Limehouse Willie. That’s staged in a warehouse full of mannequins and tries to capture the tension of the finale of Enter The Dragon. While Kosugi can’t match Bruce Lee’s charisma, he mixes in swords, throwing stars, archery and even a chainsaw to keep the action varied while he goes about his ninja business.

Try to ignore the flimsy script and instead enjoy watching Kosugi ninja-chop the bad guys… to death!
SCORE: 2/5
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