Monday, April 30, 2012

PRAY FOR DEATH (1985) martial arts action film review by Wmpyr

Starts off with Sho doing some sword work in the credits with 007 type music going on, immediately we see Sho in full ninja atire and he gets attacked by a group of grey ninjas, then he faces a ninja in a demon mask which is awesome, presumably the leader of the grey ninja and then you find out that this is just a tv show that the 2 boys were watching.
Then you see a karate class where one of the boys excel and they up one on their dad (Sho) after dinner just to show that Sho has his ninjitsu background hidden from his own kids.
Then we see Sho dressed in a Japanese monk outfit in a temple and a masked red ninja attacks him. It's a pretty cool fight and it is revealed that the red ninja is someone that Sho knew and was close to... then some weird old man with wild hair attacks Sho with a sword. Sho was apparently having a flash back as he was meditating in what appears to be the same temple where he killed the red ninja. We get to see another pretty cool fight scene, sword versus spear. old man is apparently Sho's dad and wants Sho to forget the past and not hold guilt. My guess is that he taught Sho and his brother ninjitsu. The old man beats Sho and it is revealed that the red ninja was Sho's brother.
So he gives Sho an ancient helmet and gives him his blessing for Sho and his family to move to America.
Less than 20 min into the film and there has been a lot of fight scenes already.
Sho and his family arrive to the USA, and move into a place owned by a nice old man but it turns out that these gangsters are stashing some jewels there unknown to the old man.
When the gangsters find out that someone has taken the jewels they suspect the old man and kills him.
For some reason also, it looks like Sho and his family moved into a pretty bad neighborhood, even the resident kids are bad, and try to take steal a bike from one of the boys, as he fights back, the gangsters appear and abduct one of the boys.
Sho goes to rescue his son and they hang him up and torture him in a very awesome scene where the gangster cuts him on the chest and he doesn't even flinch. He successfully saves his son, but his wife keeps telling him to go to the police. The mobsters decide that Sho knows too much and try to kill him.
Sho goes to the cops and basically here we learn that the crooked police were the ones that stole the jewlry from the mob.
Sho's wife and son get hit by a car and of course he goes after the guys that did it and it results in their deaths. The message is, loud and clear, do not go after a ninja's family.
So now we see Sho going to the ship harbor onto a large ship where the gangsters are having a party and he infiltrates, taking out numerous guards and then in a pretty cool scene, right in the middle of the party the lights go out and he threatens the leader right there, leave the Saito family or you will pray for death! Hence the title!
While they try to build up the bad guys in this movie, sadly, they are really just racist low lives, I'd prefer to see Sho facing opponents that are more worthy.
In the hospital the thug leader who looks like a bad guy Tommy Lee Jones kills Sho's wife and tries to kill his son.
In an homage to the old italian mobster films the Tommy Lee Jones look alike blows away the crooked cops with a machine gun and retrieves the jewels.
Sho begins his kuji kiri (finger weaving) with some beads wrapped around his hand. he forges a sword and the 80s music "Back to the Shadows" begins.
Sho sports the crazy ninja helmet that makes him look like Shredder from the Ninja Turtles, in fact Shredder was probably based off of this. The helmet has a ninja star right at the front almost like a nose guard. It looks pretty cheesy. We briefly see his sons take out some bad guys with their ninja bicycles which is pretty silly.
Sho infiltrates the head mobsters house and as you expect from a sho kosugi film, there are tons of cool rare and unique weapons you probably won't see in any other film.
The final fight is between Sho and the Tommy Lee Jones guy and the one thing I didn't like about it is when the katana gets broken. My other complaint is that Sho needed a worthy adversary, they tried to make this guy a good match but he totally wasn't. Some kind of back story was needed like this guy was ex special forces that became a cleaner for the mob or something like that.
Not the best Sho Kosugi flick but not the worst either.

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