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Executioner, The

Review by: 
Big McLargehuge
AKA: 
Chokugeki! Jigoko-ken
Release Date: 
1974
Studio: 
Crash Cinema
Genre: 
Martial Arts
Format: 
DVD
Region: 
0 NTSC
Aspect Ratio: 
1.33:1
Directed by: 
Teruo Ishii
Cast: 
Sonny Chiba
Movie: 
4
Extras: 
0
Bottom Line: 
4

“What do you get when you mix Sonny Chiba as a ninja, Japanese Mafia drug lords, vigilante cops, a crazy kung-fu guy, multicultural assassins, loads of movie-fu, a wrestler known as “the cannibal”, 5 billion Yen worth of Heroin, an entire scene; stolen script and all from The Good The Bad and The Ugly, editing that most likely occurred in a blender, a soundtrack of wakka-chikka music, and plot that’s one quarter The Dirty Dozen and one third The Good The Bad and The Ugly?

Why? You get the best goddamn B-movie ever!

To even describe the plot to this film in detail is an exercise in futility. But, here’s a simplified breakdown: A vigilante police captain, tracking drugs ferried into Japan by a diplomatic courier, loses six cops in a botched sting operation. Rather than pursue these ruthless diplomatically-protected criminals through the proper channels, he hires Ninja detective Koga (Sonny Chiba), freelance assassin Hyubasa, and crazy Kung Fu master (currently in prison) to take down the mafia via extreme movie-fu violence. To entice these three men to do the job, the police captain promises them equal shares of the five billion Yen’s worth of heroin they’ll recover in the process.

Better still, the police captain disappears from the film after assembling the team, leaving his beautiful niece to run the show in his absence. Even better than that, she doesn’t even pretend to want to keep these three low-lifes from double crossing each other at every possible opportunity, and seems to draw pleasure from watching them beat the shit out of each other.

It’s never explained how they will convert this heroin into money once it’s seized, but that’s okay… By the time the ploy winds around to this little missing fact, I didn’t care. I’d already seen a guy get hit in the head so hard his eyes pop out, twenty pairs of knockers, an ear bitten off, Sonny Chiba’s patented monkey-fu (during which he repeatedly screams “Here’s my ninja trick!”), two teams of multicultural assassins in service to the Sicilian mob (led in Japan by a guy named “Mario Mishicawa”) stomped to death, and a Tae Kwan Do guy get splashed across the head with a 20 foot statue thrown from a second story balcony.

What’s not to love?

Back when I was a kid every single UHF station, and most of the early cable stations, ran at least two hours of Kung Fu theater late on Saturday night and this DVD release of The Executioner, part of a three disc set known as the “Kill Sonny Chiba Collection” brought back every single one of those midnight popcorn, pizza, and kicking ass sessions that for a time defined my early teen years.

I don’t know what was more fun, trying to make sense of a plot so convoluted that by forty minutes into the movie I thought maybe the DVD transfer had a couple of reels in the wrong order, or laughing along with the idiocy. Smart money bets on the later.

Teruo Ishii’s direction is pedestrian at best, and downright criminal at worst, and there’s a whole lot of worst. But somehow the presence of Sonny Chiba manages to elevate the material some.

Like his earlier Street Fighter flicks provided a grittier, nastier, gorier take on Hong Kong style martial arts pictures, The Executioner is at its heart a bad Kung Fu movie with that same over-the-top Japanese flair.

The DVD is scratchy, the sound muddled, the lighting bad, it’s all so gloriously awful. Crash Cinema spent about the cost of a large cup of coffee to bring this film to DVD, possibly less, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
 

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