Do you understand the concept of a black belt? You should if you’re interested in martial arts!
This movie is about a master of karate style passing down his black belt to his successor with his style. The only problem is he has 2 guys perfect for the position – his students Taikan and Giryu.
This all takes place in 1932, when the Japanese occupied Manchuria. We’re introduced to the whole gang right at the beginning of the film and things get rolling quite quickly. We see these two guys training hard with another student Choei. But very quickly into the movie a group of Japanese military arrive and declare that they are to take over the dojo.
Naturally our karate heroes get pissy, say no and even attack one of the officers and even challenges one to a duel. After defeating the military men empty handed against their swords, the military group leave.
Master Eiken shortly dies afterwards and leaves Choei with a mission – to choose a successor. Before long both Taikan and Giryu go in completely different directions and we see the real difference in their characters come out while Choei patiently waits to make his decision.
Oh yeah, and there’s a lot of fights, oppression and karate guy penis measuring contests as they try to prove who is the best and be awarded this special black belt.
Two Very Different Martial Artists
It’s not hard to pick who should get the belt and who shouldn’t in this film. Taikan is aggressive and disobeys his master’s orders – striking and killing at will whilst Giryu is the passive warrior, defeating his enemies through defense and following his masters teachings.
Naturally we see Giryu develop more of a philosophical understanding while Taikan seems more concerned with raw power and hurting people. However, both men represent both Yin and Yang when it coems to martial arts – possessing power and controlling through morality and philosophy.
It’s a very easy movie to follow, two guys start together, split up and go two completely different paths before finally meeting again to sort out business. There’s nothing hugely original about it but it does offer some entertainment watching the lives of these two guys develop uniquely.
The Martial Arts
This movie has some great authenticity and carries real karate movements performed by experts.
Taikan is played by Tatsu Naka who holds a 6th Degree Black Belt in Shotokan Karate, with Giryu being played by Akihito Yagi, a 5th Dan in Meibukan Goju-ryu Karate.
The stances are real and the movements look crisp and we even see some nice displays of traditional martial arts used in an extremely lethal manner through the moves of Taikan. What I liked was the grounded and solid style both men had, even against some of the fancier looking opponents.
This is a cool movie for any martial arts or in particular, karate enthusiasts to watch.
A decent film with decent yet authentic action. Not your typical film but not really unique either, I still recommend it though!
On DVD –
Region 1 (US & Canada)
Region 2 (UK, Europe, etc)
Black Belt [DVD]
Region 4 (Australia, New Zealand, etc)