Plot: Kenji (Hayate) is a man on a mission, as his sister has vanished and he will do whatever it takes to bring her back. He travels to the United States to begin his search, where the trail leads him to a guy with his face buried in a nun’s ass. Or at least a woman dressed as a nun. After a beat down and a standoff with a crackhead, Kenji has more information about his sister, so his hunt continues. Soon he winds up at The Secret Treasure, a restaurant owned by a guy with the most outlandish comb-over in the history of the world. After once again kicking ass and threatening to rip off the guy’s few remaining hairs, Kenji gets another piece of the puzzle, learning his sister was taken by the Capital Messiah. This turns out to be a cult-like gang of misfits who make all kinds of sick, twisted snuff videos to sell on the black market. If Kenji is to rescue his sister, he will have to battle his way through the entire crew, perhaps even then finding out he was too late. Can Kenji continue to survive and beat the odds, or has he bitten off more than he can chew with the Capital Messiah?
Entertainment Value: A wild, martial arts driven tale of revenge, Karate Kill is a fun ride from the director of Gun Woman and Samurai Avenger: The Blind Wolf. This one has a fun, grindhouse feel, but never comes across as forced. It has old school roots that keep it mostly grounded, but those grindhouse elements ensure it has colorful characters, tons of kinetic fights, and even some wicked bloodshed. The story is a typical revenge narrative, but because of the brisk pace and interesting characters, it never feels like a rehash. I love that even small roles are given some creative presence to help them stand out, from comb-overs to eye patches to hook hands, very few characters here are just run of the mill goons. Katarina Leigh Waters is especially memorable as a sadistic cult member, as she really goes all out in her performance. Hayate and Asami are great as the bad ass leads, while the Capital Messiah crew is loaded with memorable, fun to watch performers. I think the movie dips a little when it switches from fights to guns, but that’s just a matter of preference. I think anyone interested in action movies, martial arts flicks, or grindhouse throwbacks would have fun with this one.
A few topless scenes, but that’s about it. A highlight has to be the scene where a topless nun is having her ass eaten by Akihiro Kitamura, in a fun throwback to The Human Centipede. On the blood front, we have a mix of practical effects and some weak CGI, so its a mixed bag here. The CGI used in the gun shot wounds is just terrible, even within the over the top framework of Keiko’s rampage. The same holds true during Kenji’s battle with a sword master, the blood is so poorly done it proves to be a distraction, in an otherwise fun sequence. But there are some fun to watch practical moments as well, so at least not all the blood is CGI in this one. While the movie has a number of colorful characters, the dialogue isn’t as memorable. The writing isn’t bad, but it doesn’t give these wild characters enough suitably wild lines to crack off. A few good ones here and there, but not as many as a movie this cool deserves. On the insanity scale, it has some bright spots and odd moments, but isn’t all that over the top. The colorful characters, wild action, and bursts of bloodshed earn it some points however. As much as I appreciated the more grounded approach to (most of) the fights, I wish the film would have ramped up the craziness a touch.
Overall Insanity: 2/10