Ah…Martial Arts films.
Not my favorite genre actually…I know right at this point everything feels like my favorites. When I watch a martial arts film it kind of falls into two categories silly unintentionally silly. Usually I know exactly which category a movie falls in in the first minute of the film. The unintentionally silly films are usually way more fun. When I received Pray For Death I was excited to see what category it fell in.
But first what is Pray For Death about?
In Pray for Death, martial arts legend Sho Kosugi (Enter the Ninja, Ninja 3: The Domination) stars as a family man driven to exact vigilante justice – ninja style! Akira (Kosugi) has brought his wife and two boys to the United States in search of a better life. But their slice of the American Dream is quickly soured when they fall foul of a group of jewellery thieves. Unfortunately for the bad guys, they didn’t count on Akira being a secret black ninja. The samurai sword of vengeance falls swift and hard in this classic slice of ’80s ninja action from director Gordon Hessler (Scream and Scream Again, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad), culminating in an action-packed showdown of Commando-esque proportions.
- Ridiculous fight scenes? Check.
- Katanas? Check. Shuriken? Check.
- Cheesy Pop Ballad? Check.
- A fundamental misunderstanding of what a ninja actually is? Check.
Yep unintentionally silly. And I was fine with it. The acting is pretty hit or miss, but James Boothe, also the writer, is decently menacing as the mob boss Willie. This film takes a bit too long to wind up but when it gets there it is pretty fun.
As with all Arrow Release the film and audio quality is pretty good but the special features are great.
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
- Brand new digital transfers of the Unrated and R-rated versions
- Original Uncompressed PCM Stereo 2.0 audio
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Sho and Tell Part 1: Birth of a Ninja – an exclusive interview with Sho Kosugi, in which the star discusses the early stages of his film career, leading up to his role in Pray for Death
- Sho Kosugi on Martial Art Forms – an archive interview with Kosugi, including footage of his ninja demonstration from the 1985 New York premiere of Pray for Death
- Sho Kosugi Trailer Gallery: Enter the Ninja (1981), Revenge of the Ninja (1983), Pray for Death (1985) and Rage of Honor (1987)
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin
Pray for Death impossible to take seriously. There are a few bits where the action is enjoyable, but the rest looks quite silly. The acting is hit or miss except James Boothe, who crushed it. But it’s not bad for a campy movie to have in the background for wine and cheese night.
Find Pray For Death (Special Edition) [Blu-ray] on Amazon.com or specialty DVD stores.