Za Karate II - A Rare One...

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Za Karate II - A Rare One...

Postby HAZ74 » Sat Nov 03, 2012 4:42 pm

I thought I would post a mini-review of [B]Za Karate II [/B]so that people can get an idea about the film. [B]Za Karate II [/B]is the second of three "Za Karate" films starring Tadashi Yamashita, who is both an actor and real-life martial artist. Not only has he appeared in Japanese films, but in American films like [B]Gymkata[/B], [B]the American Ninja[/B] series, [B]Golden Needles[/B], and [B]Lethal Weapon 4[/B]. The first installment of Za Karate is known in english as [B]Bronson Lee - Champion[/B].

The second installment of the Za Karate series opens where the first leaves off. There's no need to see part I to be able to follow part II. There is a brief recap at the beginning of [B]Za Karate II[/B] which sums up the events of the first film, but these films are not linear sequels and there's no real attempt at keeping any kind of continuity, which I actually prefer. Since they're not bogged down by a continuing storyline, the films can stand on their own, and get down to the business of having fun and showcasing some incredible martial arts skills.

In the first film, Yamashita is blinded in an evil plot, and the second film still finds him blind, but that's the only connection that the two films have. In [B]Za Karate II[/B], Yamashita comes off as the Zatoichi of Karate - Despite his handicap, he's still in very much control of his skills, and he's a target of those who want to challenge him for the title of "World Karate Champion". This might sound kind of campy and inane, and it kind of is, but it is also damn fun! Yamashita fends off attacks from would-be challengers who come from all over the globe, each with their own style: Guillotine Brothers of New Guinea, the nefarious "Dr. One" from Sweden, Blue Gellar of Germany (who has the wosrt hair ever seen in a martial arts film), the insane Killer Samson from the USA, and the great Bolo Yeung as "Dracula Jack" from Hong Kong. For my money, the best villian in the film is Killer Samson because he spends half of the movie laughing like a maniac. The other half he spends screaming at the top of his lungs. He's totally nuts and hillarious. Samson is the master of a style called Kijin-ryu, taught to him by the evil mastermind Ryuzaki. He can crush a man's rib cage with his hands and he utilizes a trick weapon that looks like a Sai. One thing that the Za Karate series has going for it is that it probably has the best villians in it this side of [B]Sister Street Fighter[/B].

The storyline of [B]Za Karate II[/B]revolves around the schemings of Ryuzaki, and his desire to steal the famed sword "Onikirimaru", or Demon Slayer for himself. Ryuzaki also has a long-standing grudge against Yamashita's Sensei, . Masafumi doesn't look it because he's kind of chubby, but he is an extremely qualified martial artist in his own right. He held a fifth degree black belt in Kokondo Judo, an eight degree in both Kendo and Iaido, a ninth dan in Jujutsu, and a tenth degree in Goju Ryu karate. In the film's credits, he is noted as being the head of Nihon Seibukan.

Back to the plot of [B]Za Karate II[/B] - Yamashita gets caught up in the machinations of the evil Ryuzaki, and the villian decides that his plans to steal Onikirimaru will never see fruition as long as Yamashita-san lives. He hires all those aforementioned baddies to bring Yamashita down. One of those baddies is Kim Jin Pal, a hapkido master with a strong sense of honor. Will he align himself with Yamashita-san? You'll have to watch to find out! :P Kim Jin Pal is another real-life martial artist, holding a tenth degree black belt in Hapkido. according to his website, he was a one time personal bodyguard to the former South Korean President Park Chong Hee, a leading man in eight 1970s martial arts movies and the trainer of the United Statesâ?? special forces during the Vietnam War.

If there is one thing that is impressive about [B]Za Karate II[/B], it is the credentials of its cast. There are not that many films that featuring so many accomplished martial artists that have broad reputations, without even considering their movie appearances. These skills translate very well onto the big screen, with some excellent choreography. Kim Jin Pal has great screen presence, and his skills translate nicely to the big screen. Yamashita puts on a clinic pretty much everytime he appears. [B]Za Karate II[/B], as its name suggests, doesn't spend a lot of its time gazing at its navel. The fights come early and often, each villian getting a chance to match wits and fists with Yamashita-san. If you've ever watched a movie with Yakusai Kurata and came away thinking "Yeah, this guy could probably kick as much ass in real life as in the movies", you'll get the same impression from Yamashita. Even with the whole fighting blind schtick, Yamashita doesn't slow down and doesn't let this plot point get in the way of him showcasing real life speed and ability. Heck, even the chubby Masafumi Suzuki has all the posture and presence of a real deal martial arts master (which he was). All of this give [B]Za Karate II [/B]a certain gravitas, despite the fact that it is campy and pretty much a cult movie. Like the Great Chase, Maki, Street Fighter, the film is a bit dated - Yamashita often dresses like a Woodstock refugee - but it certainly fits in nicely in the martial arts film tradition. Give this movie a whirl. If you're a Chiba nut (I'm looking at you KF Bob), you're going to go crazy for it. If you're a Karate nut, you'll nerd out over this for sure. I'm sure keen eyed fans will notice other fighters in among Za Karate II's menagerie of fighters and supporting cast. I hate giving films stars so I'll give this 29 Katanas out for 32. Check out the screenies below:



Hey, Yamashita, when you go to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair. :P


Worst hair in Martial Arts Film history:


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Postby HAZ74 » Sun Nov 04, 2012 1:28 pm

Bad ass Bolo Yeung!


I will try to post a review of Za Karate III today!

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Postby samtheseed » Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:33 pm

I want this...BADLY.
Nice review...HAZ74

Deadly Ninja
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Postby Deadly Ninja » Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:42 pm

Dude I been looking for this series for over 10 years. Where can I buy these?

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