Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Instant '80s Trash: Ghost Warrior (aka Swordkill)

Time keeps on flipping, flipping, flipping, into the future.  Do you like samurai films?  I sure do.  Do you like films by Charles Band?  There's usually something about them that I like, even if they are goofy as hell.  So what happens when the two meet?  We got a film with one title that was released in 1984 and the same film released under a different title in 1986.  This is confusing.  The story involves a Samurai who gets frozen in ice and woken up in the present day.  Oh look- you're ripping off Captain America.  After Doctor Mordrid, I'm not surprised.  The most interesting part here is actually how the star became famous about a decade later for something else...and then got famous on the Internet about another decade after that.  Is the film good though?  Read the subtitle to this review and then ask the question again.  Get out your spare scabbards as we go to see the...
The film begins in Feudal Japan with a woman being led as a prisoner through the snow.  A stereotypical Samurai rides around in pursuit of her.  He eventually finds her and does battle with the men.  By the way, this whole portion has no Subtitles, despite all of the dialog being in Japanese.  I'll give you guys credit for not doing the dialog in English, but I take it all away for giving us no clue what is being said!  The woman ends up being stabbed and the guy get shot with an arrow.  He fall dramatically into a river and gets frozen.  In the present day, his body is discovered by two Japanese hikers in a cave.  How did it get into a cave?  That's a good question, actually!  The body gets shipped to America where it is being thawed out for study.  A lady explains via narration that she was called in because she's an expert in Asian Studies.  Make note of that for later.  After a lot of dramatic build-up, the guy is unfrozen and alive.  No, they don't explain why that works- it just does!
Problems arise when nobody can understand what the guy is saying.  Our expert in Asian Studies proves to be useless in this regard.  Thank God you called her in!  In fact, it's only two days later that someone in the building gets a book of Japanese words and phrases.  You are the dumbest smart people ever!  They make up the guy's room in the typical style of his day, but trouble brews when a guard decides to steal the guy's sword.  Yeah, he dies.  The samurai is loose in the city, an act which the police don't believe.  They do, however, believe in the dead body on the floor, so our leads are questioned.  In the city, the Samurai stops a gang of men from beating an old, black man.  They flee after he kills two of them and de-arms a third.  Yeah, you ran at a guy with a sword and expected what to happen exactly?  The old guy is grateful and takes the Samurai to a Sushi Bar.  Unfortunately, the staff there don't speak his dialect and prove to be no help.  The gang attacks again, leading to more deaths.  Sadly, one of them is the old man.  The Samurai leaves one of his blades with the man, which is a symbol of honor and respect.  That would be very touching...in another movie.
All of this has been building up to one thing: the lead scientist guy turning 'heel.'  It's just another 'he's so obsessed with science that he'll do anything' story.  Our heroes foolishly leave the Samurai alone, especially considering that the one person who can actually talk to him goes too!  Good grief!  The guy is captured and taken down the highway towards the lab.  He escapes, however, fleeing into the woods with our heroine.  They find a convenient horse and we get hints of the movie's plot looping.  While the police chase them- guided by the now-evil scientist- the movie reminds of this parallel constantly!  We get it!  Sure enough, the Samurai is shot to death by the cops after killing the scientist.  Where did that river come from again?  With that bleak action, the film ends.
Un-freeze me when this gets good!  The plot is alright, but thinks that it is more clever than it is.  It's a simple plot and nothing more.  The biggest problem is the pacing.  The film starts out strong, but gets bogged down in the middle.  It's one of those guys with skinny heads, but really fat bodies.  You can't see the problem right away, but it becomes apparent soon enough!  The flashbacks are random and just serve to pad the film out further.  For example, one scene involves our heroine serving the guy tea.  This immediately reminds him of a scene where his wife/girlfriend does so.  At another point, he just sees a tea leaf and has the same flashback!  The ending of the film is especially-guilty of this trope.  More importantly, it talks down to us.  It says 'Hey, look- it's the same thing!  Do you get it?  Do you get it?'  Yes, we get it.  It's really not clever, but we get it.  The film is passable, but adds nothing to the world of cinema.  After all of that, why should you recognize the lead actor?  He's more famous for playing Segata Sanshiro in the series of Dreamcast ads in Japan!  Look them on YouTube and enjoy the randomness of them.  They're far more funny than this film is, sadly.
Next up, an Italian film is a rip-off in name only of a controversial film.  It does feature rape, murder and a caveman film though.  Stay tuned...


  1. It was amazing how many things in this movie could have been solved if the designers of a project meant to reanimate a frozen Japanese samurai had just, you know, brought in someone who could speak Japanese. Pretty much the entire plot hinged on the fact that no one could actually talk to the samurai. That problem seems pretty easily resolvable to me, with two easy steps.

    1. Fire the "Asian Studies" expert who doesn't speak a bit of Japanese.
    2. Hire the shopowner she goes to talk to all the time who does speak Japanese.
    3. Tell the shopowner to please explain what is going on to the samurai so that he will not flip out and try to kill everyone.

    Problem solved.

  2. I completely agree with everything stated above. Just seen this movie and it was very comical to me how, all you had to do was just find someone who speaks Japanese so everything could be explained to the Samurai! And that would basically solve all the problems that ensued from there.
    It kinds of takes you by surprise how he goes out and begins to kill people so violently, I thought this was one of those family friendly 80’s movies that everything works out in the end and then, bang you dead. I was born in 1984 so I had no idea this movie even existed until I found it on demand, and I have to say it brought me back to my childhood of watching Ninja Turtles, and the Karate Kid, minus the bloodshed, LOL!
    If you want to be entertained about how funny a sci-fi movie can be please watch this and you will have a good laugh!!!!!!!

  3. I didn't notice any mention about that this film originally was in production as part of the early 80's 3-D revival. For one reason or another it was dropped (this is a Charles Band flick so I'll say money). but yeah it was slated for 3-D.