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EXECUTIONER, THE (Chokugeki! Jigoku-ken) (director/writer: Teruo Ishii; cinematographer: Yoshikazu Yamasawa; music: Hajime Kaburagi; cast: Sonny Chiba (Ryuichi Koga), Eiji Go (Sakura), Doris Nakajima (Emi), Makoto Sato (Takeshi Hayabusa), Shozo Saijo (Hayato), Yasuaki Kurata (Karate teacher), Makoto Satô (Takeshi Hayato), Masahiko Tsugawa (Mario Mizuhara), Ryo Ikebe (police commissioner), Hiroyuki Sanada (Ryuichi as a child); Runtime: 87; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Sunao Sakagami; Shocking Videos; 1974-Japan-in Japanese with English subtitles)
“Ninja at its lowest point.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Ninja at its lowest point. Directed and written by Teruo Ishii (“Hell”/”The Hit Man”/”Screwed”) in a braindead way that mixes crude comedy with gratuitous comic book violence (Sonny Chiba rips a bone out of his opponent’s rib cage) that results in a vile and tasteless escapist martial arts pic.

Drugs have overtaken modern Japanese society and the disgraced ex-police commissioner (Ryo Ikebe) and the commissioner’s sexy playful niece Emi (Doris Nakajima) recruit assassins to go after the mafia drug dealers in a vigilante style without their hands tied as when law officers. With the help of a top narcotics detective Takeshi Hayabusa (Makoto Sato), who quit in order to aid the cause, they hire a couple of street thugs to assist Takeshi in his execution of all mafia bosses and to put a stop to the blonde mute daughter of a Latin American diplomat, the girlfriend of mafia boss (Masahiko Tsugawa), from passing through customs with drugs because she has immunity. Sonny Chiba plays Ryuichi Koga, who is the inept heir to the leadership of the noted Koga ninja clan. He’s trained as a child by his serious grandfather. As an adult, he can only find work as a second-rate private detective and gladly accepts the ex-policeman’s offer to be an assassin and keep the mafia drugs he recovers. Sakura (Eiji Go) is an unsavory hit man character with an expertise in Aikido, who is sprung from jail by Ryuichi to help execute the mafia and relishes the idea of splitting the drugs as payment. He’s depicted as a klutz and serves as comic relief.

The story seems to be a weak excuse for a series of ninja fights of a most violent nature and jokes as crass as the following that took place during a car chase: Passenger: “Rear-end him.” Driver: “I’m not gay.”

If this is your poison, be my guest.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”