'Pray For Death (Special Edition)' [Blu-ray]
(Shô Kosugi, James Booth, Donna Kai Benz, et al / Blu ray / NR / (1985) 2016 / Arrow Films UK)
Overview: Japanese Restauranteur Akira (Kosugi) has taken his wife and two boys to the United States in search of a better life. But their slice of the American Dream is quickly soured when they fall foul of a group of vicious jewellery thieves. Unfortunately for the bad guys, they didn't count on Akira being a secret black ninja!
Blu ray Verdict: You've just got to (still) love the 80's and the films that were made, haven't you. I mean, whether they be cheesy Holywood films or movies such as these Japanese ones, the 80's are still the 80's, which means you know the cheesy dialogue, the cheesy clothes, and the at-times cheesy acting will all be in abundance.
So, one with the show, as they say, and the plot (of sorts) more or less resembles exactly that of Kosugi's earlier, superior 'Revenge Of The Ninja'. In fact, similarly (and rather annoyingly for an action fan like myself) just as in the aforementioned film, Shô Kosugi (as Akira Saito) is yet again incredibly reluctant to get into his full ninja gear and whoop ass - even after repeated attempts on his families life by the movies villains!
However, inevitably and true to that staple cliché in these types of films, at least one of his family MUST be killed off thus prompting our hero to swear the obligatory oath of revenge. The bad news is that it takes until well over the hour mark before our man Shô actually gets his full ninja act together to get stuck in proper!
Still, to be fair, the resulting action makes it worth the long wait and the villains invariably buy it in style at Shô's deadly hands and feet. Indeed, the climatic battle between Shô's character and the evil (but ridiculously named) Limehouse Willy (played by none other than James Booth) proves to be surprisingly evenly matched. Well, save for the fact that a chainsaw being ostensibly used as a weapon is hardly what any clean cut ninja is specifically trained to defend against, one assumes! But, of course, such a repulsive low down, low life miscreant can only meet a suitably grisly end here and Shô certainly makes sure that he does!
In closing, and whilst this isn't my personal favorite of Shô's movies, it's still a fairly enjoyable romp. If you're at all into the 80's ninja film craze then you could do a lot worse than to check this out. A sequel was planned but never materialized, which is a shame, but then that allows this film to stand alone - and that works just fine for me. This is a High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:
Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Brand new interview with star Sho Kosugi
Archive interview and Ninjitsu demonstration with Kosugi from the film's New York premiere
Original Theatrical Trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation from a transfer of original elements by MGM of the unrated version
PLUS: The first pressing also includes a collector s booklet featuring an extract from Sho Kosugi's upcoming biography