Rage of Honor (1987)

RageOfHonorPosterWas there really a time when Sho Kosugi got his name above the title of a movie the same way an Elizabeth Taylor or a Jean-Claude Van Damme did? After having watched the charisma-impaired Sho grimace his way through this and Revenge Of The Ninja, I can only assume that they let him star in these movies because he brought all his own ninja gear.

It surely wasn’t for his looks which can be best described as continuously dyspeptic. It wasn’t for his ability to communicate in the English language which had me thinking on more than one occasion that perhaps he was suffering from sort of dysphasia and the casting of him was the result of some mid-eighties affirmative action program designed to help martial artists with speech impediments.

This time Sho is taking time off from being a ninja so that he can try his hand at being a drug enforcement agent. Before any of you start cackling at the prospect of Sho whipping out his nunchucks at DEA meetings, you need to know that even though he is a drug cop, he isn’t working for the DEA. His employer is the U.S. Drug Investigation Bureau or the USDIB.

USDIB is a super secret organization dedicated to fighting the drug war in Argentina when they aren’t operating out of their home base on the mean streets of Phoenix. Argentina? Phoenix? Either someone didn’t have any idea of what constituted good drama in a movie about a drug lord or they had buddies in Argentina that could get them cheap hotel rates.

Sho and his USDIB buddies are down in Buenos Aires and they crash a party aboard a yacht where some kind of drug stuff is going on. (I usually zone out whenever people start going on about shipments and organizations and cartels and stuff – I saw every episode of Miami Vice three times so I’m pretty much played out on these foreign drug pusher evil crime lord with long hair plots.)

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Sho and company fight a bunch of goons and it involves Sho kicking a lot of people and shoving a gun in a guy’s butt. (This is the movie’s only memorable contribution to the action drug film genre or the Sho film canon.)

Back in Phoenix, Sho has taken the night off (causing the anuses of bad guys everywhere to pucker a little less) and is all decked out in a tuxedo (complete with scarf!) to take his gal out for a fancy dinner.

Watching the interaction between a guy who can’t speak a word of English and doesn’t even have the acting ability to pretend he cares about any scene where he isn’t doing flips in the air and kicking guys in the head and a girl whose last acting credit would be this very film made me wish we were out working the streets again, holding dirtbags’ butts at gunpoint.

One of Sho’s partners is working a hot tip all by himself about some nefarious goings on at a warehouse. He leaves a message for Sho before going in and getting himself tortured to death but not before croaking out some vital bit of information to Sho who has cut his evening short to meet him there.

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Sho informs his boss that he’s going back to Argentina to track down the guy that did his partner. His boss tells him that that’s against the rules (Dammit Sho! It’s in the handbook! The deaths of any partner must go unavenged!) and to take a vacation. Well, Sho knows when it’s time to slap that badge down in disgust and walk out to start a one man war!

Sho, though, doesn’t know all the finer points about starting a one man war of revenge on an army of hundreds of drug runners because he takes his stupid girlfriend down to Argentina with him under the guise of a vacation!

Maybe he figures that once she gets kidnapped, that’ll give him some extra incentive to kill even more people than if he was just avenging a single co-worker. It works pretty well for him since it isn’t long before some thug is trying to throw her off the balcony of their hotel room.

Later, a plane she’s on gets hijacked and Sho has to go off into the jungle to rescue her. So she was good for two different rescues which really isn’t a bad job by the girlfriend (at least if she’s not going to go and get herself out and out killed, thus providing some serious avenging material).

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Sho spends the rest of the movie running around from battle to battle. He fights guys in a warehouse. He fights some ninjas that invade the Argentine prison Sho gets himself locked up in. He fights a tribe in the jungle, dodging blow gun attacks and stabbing them with his samurai sword. He even has to fight a group of guys with flame throwers and some dudes with pikes!

Rage of Honor has lots of action in the sense that there’s lots of scenes where guys get blown up, shot, stabbed, fall off of stuff, and stuck with throwing stars. But it’s done without any style and becomes repetitive with the faceless numbers that continuously are thrown up against Sho. None of the violence has any impact because it’s so omnipresent and is just like what you’d see in any generic actioner of the era.

Despite the fact that Sho doesn’t really do that much different in this one than he did in Revenge Of The Ninja , this time it’s worse because there wasn’t any of the silly crap in this movie that went on in the other one. (We all fondly recall the villain with a silver mask who tried to kill women in hot tubs and kids in saunas!)

Without any of that to distract us, Sho’s shortcomings as far as screen presence go as well as the cookie-cutter plot and action sequences are only magnified. The only way you should ever watch this is with a gun shoved up your butt.

© 2013 MonsterHunter

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