The Bodyguard (Japan 1976)

Rating: **
Alternate Title: Karate Kiba
Cast: Sonny Chiba

The beginning of the movie is just so bizarre. It starts out in a New York City karate dojo where two guys are practicing various fighting styles and carrying on a debate about who the baddest fighter - Bruce Lee or Sonny Chiba? I can only guess that this was tacked onto the American release of the film for reasons unknown. Then Sonny Chiba shows up as a bad-ass fighter (appropriately named Mr. Chiba) who wants to take out the head of a large narcotics syndicate and offers to be the personal bodyguard of anyone who has information leading to their downfall. Naturally, a babe comes to him for help, and he protects her from the numerous threats that she encounters. Kind of light on the action side, but Chiba's burning intensity and flair for gruesomely dispatching his foes keeps you entertained. Another bizarre feature of the film is the repeated chanting of "Viva Chiba!" at the beginning, making me wonder if this was going to be a Mexican film. Hmmm. A friend of mine commented that Sonny Chiba is the Japanese equivalent of Charles Bronson, which has a certain ring to it.