Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 24th, 2016
BluRay released: March 15th, 2016
Approximate running time: 92 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: LPCM Stereo English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video USA
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.95 (USA)
Rage of Honor was directed by Gordon Hessler whose diverse filmography includes, The Oblong Box, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park and Prey for Death. Key collaborators on Rage of Honor include, cinematographer Julio Bragado (Pieces, Slugs), screenwriter Wallace C. Bennett (Welcome to Arrow Beach, Silent Scream) and composer Stelvio Cipriani (Death Walks on High Heels, What Have They Done to Your Daughters?).
Far too often in cinema, when a film is successful there is strong chance that it will spawn a sequel or at least a film that looks very similar in content. And this is clearly the case with Rage of Honor, a film that bears more than a striking resemblance Shô Kosugi’s previous film Pray for Death. With the main differences between the two films being Pray for Death is a family affair, while Rage of Honor shifts it focus to the workplace. Also instead of being a ninja the protagonist resembles a James Bond like character.
The film’s narrative is straight forward and easy to follow. Also there are no issues in regards to pacing as things move along briskly. And though the characters are caricatures of the type of characters which populate these type of films. At least their motivations are never left in doubt, since there is a clear distinction between good and evil.
Once again the star of the show is Shô Kosugi, who this time around portrays a suave narcotics detective named Shiro Tanaka. Where Pray for Death played to his strengths dramatically. The same cannot be said about his performance in Rage of Honor, when it comes to the more dramatic moments. Fortunately, he is at his best during the more action oriented moments.
Another stand out performance is Lewis Van Bergen in the role of Havlock, a sadistic henchman who is also the one responsible for killing Shiro Tanaka’s partner. And in the grand tradition of villains he delivers a convincing performance that is devoid of any sympathy.
On the surface though this film has all the ingredients that one would want from 1980’s action extravaganza. Unfortunately, the end result is a mediocre film that feels all to familiar and brings nothing new to the table.
Rage of Honor comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. The source used for this transfer is in great shape and when compared to previous home video release this new transfer is superior in every way. Colors look accurate, black levels remain strong throughout and the image looks crisp. Also grain look natural and there are no issues with DNR or compression. It should be noted that opening credits are presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, while the rest of the film is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital stereo mix in English and removable English SDH subtitles have also been included with this release. There are no issues with background noise or distortion, everything sounds balanced and dialog comes through clearly. Range wise the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented and when it comes to the score and more action oriented moments the audio always sounds robust.
Extras for this release include, trailers for Enter the Ninja (2 minutes 53 seconds), Revenge of the Ninja (1 minute 41 seconds), Pray for Death (2 minutes 11 seconds) and Rage of Honor (1 minute 35 seconds), an interview with composer Stelvio Cipriani titled ‘Honorable Mentions’ (2 minutes 47 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles), an interview with actor Shô Kosugi titled ‘Sho and Tell Part Two: The Domination’ (17 minutes 48 seconds) and a featurette titled ‘American Ninja’s’ (7 minutes 34 seconds).
The extra titled ‘Sho and Tell Part Two: The Domination’ is a career retrospective interview which covers the film’s that picks up where its predecessor left off. This time the discussion begins with Rage of Honor, the origins of the film and how it differs from Prey for Death, Black Eagle and working with Jean-Claude Van Damme, the process required to make and be prepared for marital arts films, Ninja Assassin and on a few occasions he alludes to yet to be released films that he is working on.
Topics discussed in the interview with Stelvio Cipriani include, how he got involved in composing the score for Rage of Honor, his tetralogy – The Enforcers, The Great Kidnapping, What Have They Done to Your Daughters? and Portrait of a 60% Perfect Man and the inspirations for each one of those scores.
Topics discussed by Chris Polggiali for the extra titled ‘American Ninja’ include, You Only Live Twice and how this was most American’s first exposure to the Ninja, then he gives a well-rounded overview of all the key ninja film’s which lead up to the film Enter the Ninja, how the ninja phenomena reached its apex in the 1980’s.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art option and a twenty-four-page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay titled ‘The Sho Must Go On’ written by Derek Botelho, an excerpt from the forth coming book Ying-Yang Code: The Drums of Tenkai-Bo written by Warren Chaney and Shô Kosugi and information about the transfer. Overall Rage of Honor gets a first rate release from Arrow Video.