IMDB says Rage Of Honor hit theaters on February of 1987, which means I may have seen it in a theater, but I have no direct memory of doing so. I was 18 then and months away from graduation and I’m sure me and my best friend, Gerry, must have gone and seen it. I do, however, have a memory of seeing the commercial and until I revisited it last night on Arrow’s blu-ray I had that it mixed up with Kosugi’s 9 Deaths Of The Ninja (1985). There’s a scene in a warehouse towards the end that has Sho dodging a missile fired by a rocket launcher. He ducks just in the nick of time. That shot blew me away and I always remembered it, but as the years went by I wrongly attributed it to his 9 Deaths flick.
I wouldn’t call Rage Of Honor a Sho Kosugi ninja movie. There are ninjas in it, but it’s not about them, and Sho never dons a ninja uniform. This would fall more into simply a Sho Kosugi movie instead, and honestly not his best flick ever. His best are Enter The Ninja, Revenge Of The Ninja and Pray For Death, with to a lesser extent Ninja III: The Domination. His “worst” flicks are Rage Of Honor and Black Eagle, with Eagle being the utmost disappointing. It’s kind of a toss up now that I think about where Ninja III falls, but for right now I’m going to say that one is more entertaining than Rage Of Honor. Of course, back in high school me and Gerry watched Sho Kosugi movies for the action and his martial arts skills, since we were dabbling in martial arts ourselves and even the worst Kosugi flick was entertaining in that regard. Now that those days are long gone, I can look at his line of movies with a more objective eye and this one just doesn’t stack up to his other movies.
Rage Of Honor is almost a low-rent James Bond movie with Kosugi playing DEA agent Shiro Tanaka. He’s part of a team, Ray (Richard Wiley) and Dick (Chip Lucia), are the friends he works with, but after they bust a drug kingpin in Argentina another drug kingpin higher up in the food chain wants revenge. This dude hires standard 80s action flick psychopath Havlock (Lewis Van Bergen) to even the odds. Ray’s the first to die as he’s captured and tortured by Havlock. Shiro vows revenge and has to quit the agency when his revenge isn’t department sanctioned.
He meets up with Dick down in Brazil as they track Havlock, and manage to find a snitch in the cartel that gives Dick everything that’ll convict the bastard on floppy disc. But Dick and Shiro’s wife, Jennifer (Robin Evans), who he stupidly invited along under the guise it was some kind of vacation, are both kidnapped and taken to some stronghold in the jungle. Now Shiro has three missions: 1). To get that disc back 2). To save his wife and friend. 3). Get revenge in the name of Ray. He succeeds in mostly all of it except saving Dick.
Like your typical James Bond flick Ray Of Honor has that globetrotting adventure vibe as Shiro goes from Argentina to Texas and then to Brazil and ultimately into the wilds of that country.
Lewis Van Bergen I always remembered because he starred in a TV series that I got into in November of ’87 called, Sable. He was actually the good guy in that but it only lasted seven episodes. The only other recognizable face in this is Chip Lucia who was the father in Brian Yuzna’s still relevant Society (1989).
The violence in this is surprisingly toned down compared to other Kosugi flicks. It almost borders on a PG-13. For me the flick doesn’t really get interesting until the plot moves to the Brazilian rainforest where all types of action beset poor Shiro. He even has to tangle with murderous natives. Highlight is his fight with camouflage wearing ninjas in this abandoned village. Second highlight is the action set piece in the warehouse where random bad guys coming flying out of nowhere in trucks shooting at him. Even though Havlock is seemingly dispatched in a lame fight in this river, he comes back at the very end to give Shiro a second one-on-one that’s more satisfying, but we never know what the hell happened to his wife. She was being held by some drug dealing henchman right before he battled Havlock, and got the dude away from her, but that’s the last time we see her. After he kills Havlock the movie ends.
On March 15th UK based Arrow Video releases Rage Of Honor here in the U.S. through their stateside division on blu-ray only! If you want a basic DVD you’ll have to buy MGM’s DVD-R of it, which is widescreen.
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 1.85:1 high definition widescreen—2.1 PCM Stereo—English SDH subtitles
Extras Included . . .
- Sho and Tell Part 2: The Domination (17:48)
- Stelvio Cipriani Interview (2:47)
- American Ninjas (7:34)
- Sho Kosugi Trailer Gallery (Rage of Honor, Pray For Death, Revenge of the Ninja, and Enter the Ninja)
- Reversible cover with poster
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The highlight of the extras is the second part of that interview with Sho that started on Arrow’s Pray For Death blu, and the highlight of that in part 2 is him mentioning he’s got some big ninja movie he’s going to be doing this year with one of his sons. I assume it’s a ninja movie, though he doesn’t specifically say it’s a ninja movie, I’m just assuming it’s something along those lines since that’s what his whole career was built on. No mention of it on IMDB yet.