Chiba plays Mr Soh, an undercover Japanese operative at the end of the second world war. After Japan’s defeat he heads back home to a country packed with poor vets and families struggling to get by. He sees oppression, rape and general inhumane behavior that he simply must stand up and fight against.
He stays with a group of orphans and acts like a father figure, keeping them safe and out of harms way while helping to feed them and keep them in good spirits. But after stepping in and seriously injuring some American soldiers (he’s played by Sonny Chiba so you know he’s got deadly skills) he’s thrown into Jail.
The inspector has noticed his good deeds however, and offers to ‘let him escape’, turning a blind eye as long as he leaves town that night. If he refuses, the marketplace he’s living in will be torn apart. This would leave the people living there, including the orphans, with nowhere to stay.
Mr Soh heads off to tell the orphans to be strong and that it is what’s best for they safety. After leaving, Mr Soh opens up a martial arts school and helps people get onto their feet by taking them in and teaching them. But after transforming some lives and helping the weak, he again begins to draw attention and must fight off oppression from a local gang of criminals.
The Righteous Mr Soh
This movie is a bit different from the other Chiba films that I’ve seen as Chiba plays a more righteous character, as Mr Soh seems to be the perfect combination for a hero – always willing to help, strong, just and unbeatable in a fight. Hell, he even supports and looks after a group of orphans, not to mention convincing young girls not to go into prostitution.
With all of this righteousness Chiba still does what he does best – brings a tough attitude to his character!
Even his approach to helping people quite often involves a flogging, bashing guys into their personal revelations!
This movie also demonstrates a power of martial arts training, bringing a family of men and eventually children and helping them overcome personal obstacles and creating a relaxed and fun environment.
It’s a well told story (With the style that usually accompanies a lot of Sonny Chiba’s movies) that shows the poverty and hard times faced by some Japanese after WW2 and the power of one man using martial arts to help change the lives of those around him, while still being packed with attitude and action.
The Action & Martial Arts
Chiba brings another technical martial arts performance showing us why he’s the man!
In this film he brings Chinese martial arts to Japan, opening up a school for Shaolin kung fu. Of course we see the usual strikes and kicks but also a lot of nice wrist locks based throws and more grappling style movements.
There’s no holding back on the blood, which is one of the funny & cool visual elements of the 70’s Japanese martial arts movies. The level of violence is pretty standard through most of the film with the occassional extremity or rape scene to ‘hardcore’ things up a bit.
One truly memorable scene:
After a young girl is raped Mr Soh heads off to teach the rapist a lesson – giving him a floggin before having him pinned down and saying “Your ‘thing’ seems to be causing a lot of trouble!“. Mr Soh then pulls out a large pair of metal scissors, chops off the man’s junk and tosses it over his shoulder.
As the ‘handful’ lands a happy dog comes running into frame and runs off with it as it would a scrap of food. Although little brutal I had to have a small laugh!
A classic with a lot offer, especially for Japanese martial arts film fans.
On Blu Ray –
Region A (US & Canada)
Killing Machine / Shogun’s Ninja (Double Feature) [Blu-ray]
On DVD –
Region 1 (US & Canada)
Killing Machine (Uncut, Unedited, Widescreen Edition)
Region 2 (UK, Europe, etc)
The Killing Machine [DVD]