Review Date: 4/22/19
Cast: Sonny Chiba, Reiko Ike, Etsuko Shiomi
Takuma "Terry" Tsurugi (Sonny Chiba) is hired to rescue a criminal from a group of riot police and recover his black mah-jong case. Unfortunately, his client double-crosses him, so Tsurugi spends the rest of the film trying to get revenge. The key to bringing down the bad guys is an incriminating cassette tape that everyone wants to get their hands on. Tsurugi's biggest competition is a prosecutor who decides to use the tape for blackmail when he discovers how corrupt the legal system is. Meanwhile, sexy and sophisticated bad girl Reiko Ike alternates between trying to seduce Tsurugi and kill him, and hires a ridiculous American assassin named Frankie Black as backup. He wears a Mexican sombrero and uses a hidden laser beam as a weapon. Mr. Black's involvement causes another assassin played by Etsuko Shiomi to switch sides and help Tsurugi out of resentment and pride. Sort of. Her motives seem to waver and you never know what she's up to. The slam-bang ending leaves nearly everyone dead, and Tsurugi a little worse for wear.
This was Sonny Chiba's final outing as Takuma Tsurugi, and given the disappointingly silly nature of the film, it's not surprising it was the last in the series. While the absurdity of Frankie Black and his so-called mystical occult powers takes the cake, there are plenty of other offenders in the movie. For whatever reasons, the film really plays on the idea of Tsurugi being a master of disguise, and he imitates no fewer than three other characters, including vampires and policemen. Part of me wonders if this was because Chiba wasn't available or didn't want to film those scenes. The whole vampire sequence is embarrassingly awful and totally unnecessary, as Tsurugi disguises himself as Count Dracula in an attempt to discourage a young and naïve telephone operator who has a crush on him.
Fortunately, the hard-hitting action scenes are good, and it's always nice to see Etsuko Shiomi showing off her stuff. Her tussle with Chiba at the beginning of the movie is one of the best scenes the film has to offer. Reiko Ike gives a solid performance and adds a touch of class to the otherwise crass and silly production, but she has little to do other than get naked and glare menacingly. It's a shame that the series ended up this way, but Chiba would continue to play similar characters for years to come.