Kenka karate kyokushinken (Karate Bullfighter) (Champion of Death) (1975)
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Critic Reviews for Kenka karate kyokushinken (Karate Bullfighter) (Champion of Death)
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Audience Reviews for Kenka karate kyokushinken (Karate Bullfighter) (Champion of Death)
The first in a series of films featuring the Masutatsu Oyama character (an actual historical figure), Sonny Chiba does some great stunts in this one. I'm finally trying to catch up with my classic martial arts films from the '70s, which obviously includes Chiba's catalog. This film features a great sequence of man vs. bull, which is a theme we'll see continued in the next film in the series. Worth a rental.
It is official, Sonny Chiba has beat out Bruce Lee as my favorite martial artist. His films may be more cheesy but I dig the heightened violence and dirty fighting style of the man with intense eybrows. In âKarate Bull Fighterâ� (released in America as âChampion of Deathâ�) we have Sonny Chiba play Masutatsu Oyama who in real life was Chibaâ(TM)s martial arts instructor. Donâ(TM)t worry as this isnâ(TM)t like those dreadful biopic Bruceploitation borefests. As a matter of fact if I didnâ(TM)t read the synopsis of the film I wouldnâ(TM)t have even known it was based on a real man. Even so I doubt this film is completely accurate and plays more like an entertaining and relatively well made martial arts picture. Not long after World War II, Oyama meanders into a dojo where the Japanâ(TM)s Karate championship is taking place. Looking ragged and dirty, he enters the tournament and takes the prize and then has the balls to tell the Karate instructor that Karate has lost its punch and now seems more like a âdanceâ�. Infuriated they banish him so he leaves and takes in a protÃ (C)gÃ (C) to teach his more mean spirited Karate. His protege ends up going of the deep end and gets himself killed while on a rampage. Oyama feels guility for teaching him âevil karateâ� so gets drunk and kills a guy in a bar fight. Feeling even worse he breaks up with his girlfriend and moves into the house of the wife and son of the man he killed in order to help them with their harvest. His depression finally breaks when the leader of the Karate tournament sends an assassin after him, he decides to take vengeance by taking on the entire school himself. Going into âKarate Bull Fighterâ� I was expecting the same comic book style films as Chibaâ(TM)s âStreet Fighterâ� series (director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi also directed the first three entries into the âSister Street Figtherâ� franchise spin-off) but surprisingly I was given a slightly more serious film. It still has itâ(TM)s cheesy moments and instances of extreme violence (a pole through the head for example) but for the most part this is a lot tamer than Chibaâ(TM)s more popular âStreet Fighterâ� Saga. This doesnâ(TM)t make it less of a film, just a tad different thatâ(TM)s all. Well you're probably wondering about the title and slightly humerous poster artwork. Well itâ(TM)s for a sequence in which Oyama kills a rampaging bull with his bear hands, even ripping one of itâ(TM)s horns off. This guy is extreme! Only Chiba could have pulled a sequence like this off so well. âKarate Bull Fighterâ� ends up being a fine martial arts film and proved popular enough to inspire two sequels making it a solid trilogy (sequels are âKarate Bear Fighterâ� and âKarate for Lifeâ�). Not as over-the-top, extreme or action packed as Chibaâ(TM)s âStreet Fighterâ� trilogy but a must for martial arts and Chiba fans alike.
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