Black Eagle (1988)

Starring Sho Kosugi, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Doran Clark, Bruce French, Vladimir Skomarovsky, William Bassett, Kane Kosugi, Shane Kosugi, Dorota Puzio, Jan Tríska, Gene Davis, Alfred Mallia

Directed by Eric Karson

Expectations: Sho Kosugi. JCVD. I heard it’s bad, but I gotta see it!

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:


Hot off the heels of the amazing Bloodsport, Jean-Claude Van Damme landed the main villain role in this Sho Kosugi vehicle, and regardless of whatever flaws the film has, it definitely delivers on the schoolyard playground promise of “Sho vs. JCVD!” They face off a few times throughout the film, with two major battles occurring during the closing half hour. I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, but Black Eagle is the type of movie that doesn’t lend itself much to beating around the bush.

Basically a low-budget version of the James Bond film Thunderball (but with better underwater sequences… fuck Thunderball‘s torturous underwater filmmaking), Black Eagle sees Sho Kosugi as the title character: a covert CIA operative capable of fucking up any evildoers holiday plans. An experimental plane went down off the coast of Malta and even though it’s Sho’s scheduled family vacation time, they force him to do the job. How does the U.S. government do that exactly? By picking up his kids and flying them directly into harm’s way in Malta, and then using their presence there to force him into a position where he has no choice but to agree, that’s how! Stand up guys those CIA suits. Of course, he’s not the only one looking for the plane, and this is where JCVD and all the requisite Russian baddies come from. It’s the Cold War as told through a mediocre James Bond rip-off starring two of the screen’s favorite Western martial arts stars.

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Enter the Ninja (1981)

Enter the Ninja (1981)

Starring Franco Nero, Susan George, Sho Kosugi, Christopher George, Alex Courtney, Will Hare, Zachi Noy, Constantine Gregory, Dale Ishimoto, Joonee Gamboa

Directed by Menahem Golan

Expectations: High, but tempered because I’ve heard this is dumb.


It’s been much too long since I watched an 80s ninja flick, so I decided to remedy that with the first film in the unofficial Ninja trilogy featuring Sho Kosugi! Perhaps this wasn’t the best choice to make, as I’d heard from a couple of different sources that this first film is one that can easily be skipped and I would be much better served by the much more famous pseudo-sequel Revenge of the Ninja. As a completionist, I scoffed at these suggestions and soldiered on, receiving a film just about as good as I was led to believe it would be.

Franco Nero plays Cole, an American war veteran who has spent the last few years training to become a ninja. Yes, that’s the same Franco Nero that starred in Django and Camelot, and no, I don’t quite understand the logic in casting him as a ninja. I do like to theorize that because of his involvement, somewhere in the world this film was screened under the title Django vs. Ninja, but I have no factual evidence of this. Whatever, he’s a ninja and Sho Kosugi, another student at the school, objects to Nero’s inclusion in the sacred order. A rivalry forms but just as you think it might be going somewhere awesome, Nero leaves Japan to hang out with his old war buddy in Manila. There he finds a wealthy landowner looking to steal his friend’s land out from under him, presumably to build some high-rise apartments or to farm heroin or some other clichéd 80s action movie shit. I honestly didn’t pay too close of attention to his motives.

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Uncle Jasper reviews: Blind Fury (1989)

Blind Fury (1989)

Starring Rutger Hauer, Terry O’Quinn, Brandon Call, Noble Willingham, Lisa Blount, Nick Cassavetes, Rick Overton, Randall “Tex” Cobb, Meg Foster, Sho Kosugi

Directed By Phillip Noyce


 

Sometimes you just have to roll with your intuition. No matter how silly and bizarre your idea initially looks on paper you just gotta go on with that gut feeling, confident that there is something about it that just feels “right”. I would imagine that’s how director Phillip Noyce and writer Charles Robert Carner felt as they sat down gingerly, committing this unique slice of 80s action to celluloid.

Blind Fury is a film that once again proves just how versatile and universal the Japanese samurai film was. After the Italians made Yojimbo into a western, and George Lucas threw a little bit of The Hidden Fortress into Star Wars, I guess it was only a matter of time before we had Rutger Hauer combing American highways as a Vietnam veteran incarnation of Zatoichi, taking on the mob almost single-handedly with his walking cane which housed a razor-sharp samurai sword.

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Uncle Jasper reviews: Rage of Honor (1987)

Rage of Honor (1987)

Starring Sho Kosugi, Lewis Van Bergen, Robin Evans, Gerry Gibson, Charles Lucia, Richard Wiley, Carlos Estrada, Ulises Dumont

Directed By Gordon Hessler


Like a sneak attack from the shadows, I bring you another stealthy actioneer from Sho Kosugi: Master Ninja™!

Rage of Honor is definitely a low point in the Sho Kosugi arsenal. Taken as a straight 80’s actioneer it will definitely satisfy. The film not only contains genre staples such as jungle warfare, shirtless dudes with machine guns, and slick-haired assholes in bright suits and aviator sunglasses, but it also seems to stem from that holy trifecta of all great action films of the era: Heroin, Uzis, and Organized Criminals.

That’s great if your name is Chuck Norris, Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Sylvester Stallone. But if you are Sho Kosugi, purveyor of all things ninja, you come to expect a little more. Don’t get me wrong, Sho does a lot of ninja-like things this time around. You’ll get your shurikens, grappling hooks, and exploding smoke bombs. Unlike previous films however, he decides to ditch the ninja costume and Japanese mysticism for a more Americanized, guerrilla warfare approach. The result is not a ninja film, by any stretch. It’s more like a ninja-tinged, loosely tossed together version of First Blood, Part II.

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Uncle Jasper reviews: Pray for Death (1985)

Pray for Death (1985)

Starring Sho Kosugi, James Booth, Donna Kei Benz, Norman Burton, Kane Kosugi, Shane Kosugi, Matthew Faison, Parley Baer

Directed By Gordon Hessler


Digging into the archives here at Silver Emulsion brought a staggering discovery to my attention. Although we have done our best to bring you reviews of classy motion picture entertainment on a regular basis, we are still far from perfect and definitely have a long way to go in our quest for celluloid gold. In our first six months we have covered a whole slew of classics but have sadly remained deficient in one of the greatest genres of film known to mankind. No I’m not talking about film noir, westerns, or Hollywood musicals. I’m talking fucking Ninjas! And when I’m talking fucking Ninjas, I am of course talking Sho Kosugi.

For those not in the know, Sho Kosugi is pretty much the Henry Ford of ninja lore. What child of the 80s could not remember begging mom and dad to buy a couple of those cheap ass plastic ninja swords in the supermarket toy aisle, banging them together with friends until they bent in half, sadly drooping along while they carried out stealth assaults? Who cannot remember the deluge of ninja related video games and TV shows at the time? That was all courtesy of Sho Kosugi and a little movie from 1983 titled Revenge of the Ninja.

Continue reading Uncle Jasper reviews: Pray for Death (1985) →

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