Friday, October 12, 2012

#788. The Bodyguard (1976)

Directed By: Ryuichi Takamori, Simon Nuchtern

Starring: Sonny Chiba, Etsuko Shihomi, Aaron Banks

Tag line: "Sonny Chiba, hired to kill... If his kick doesn't get you... his fatal fist will!"

Trivia: This film was also released under the title Karate Kiba

Sonny Chiba’s The Bodyguard (a.k.a. Karate Kiba) opens with a biblical quote, chosen by the filmmakers to establish their main character’s strength and tenacity. This quote, allegedly from the Book of Ezekial, happens to be the same one uttered by Jules, Samuel L. Jackson’s character in Pulp Fiction, whenever he’s about to blow somebody’s head off.

How’s that for a useless bit of trivia?

In The Bodyguard, Sonny Chiba stars as, well… Sonny Chiba! At a press conference, Chiba announces his intentions to take down Japan’s powerful drug lords, and offers his protective services to anyone brave enough to come forward with information on their illegal activities. A young woman, who claims to have connections in the underworld, takes him up on this offer, and Chiba, as promised, serves as her bodyguard. But as Chiba soon discovers, this woman may have an ulterior motive for selling out the mob, leaving him to wonder where her true loyalties lie.

While The Bodyguard is nowhere near as violent as Chiba’s 1974 movie, The Street Fighter, the actor still gets plenty of chances to kick some serious ass. One night, while Chiba is on the job, the woman he’s protecting is attacked. He reacts quickly, and manages to wound one of the attackers…by pulling the man’s right arm off (in a humorous follow-up, Chiba holds the severed limb, and, looking down at it, says, “This sure as hell was a bloody show”). No matter what Chiba’s role might be, whether he’s in control or being controlled by someone else, he always can, and always will, take down his enemies, anytime, anywhere.

To coincide with his skills as a fighter, Sonny Chiba also oozes charisma, displaying a confidence throughout The Bodyguard that never once wavers. I mean, who else would have the balls to not only take on the entire Japanese mob, but announce his plans to do so at a press conference? As it is with most of his films, Sonny Chiba never backs away from a fight in The Bodyguard, and actually says at one point that he’s not afraid of death.

The fact is, Sonny Chiba probably isn’t afraid of anything!

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