The idea of a 1970's martial arts blaxploitation movie does not sound very appealing to the average film viewer, but Al Adamson's Black Samurai has all the hallmarks of a cult classic, from background music in every, single scene to Enter the Dragon's Jim Kelly.

The plot is very simple, yet strangely confusing. Robert "Black Samurai" Sand's girlfriend is kidnapped by a voodoo gang, headed by the ridiculous Bill Roy. And so he sets out to find her.

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His search is somewhat delayed by bad guys coming out of nowhere to attack him for no apparant reason.

It is doubtful that Adamson meant this film to be intentionally funny, but it is. There isn't much dialogue, but what is there is hysterical. Sand (Kelly looks remarkably like Big Brother's Dean) is pursued by actors who are unfortunate enough to have their voices dubbed with comical, supposedly sinister accents, or, even worse - yes, worse - be forced to read their lines in a voice that lacks any emotion.

Yet, in this type of action flick, the dialogue is not meant to be the focus. The fighting scenes are and they're stupendous.

While Sand takes to the sky in a jet fuelled pack, similar to something out of a cartoon, the fights are about as realistic as the plot for Battlefield Earth. This very point is demonstrated by the hero's hapless sidekick, Pines (Biff Yeager), who is attacked by two midgets. One goes to kick him in the face, but clearly misses, and the sound of boot on jaw can be heard, as he stumbles to the ground.

The sound department deserve an award, not just for the music track, which can only be described as a cross between James Bond and Charlie's Angels, but for their over enthusiastic punch effects.

Black Samurai does not seem as funny on paper as it actually is - granted, it's not supposed to be. However it is definately worth seeing, if not to laugh at the fighting techniques, but to wonder how they managed to use the same footage twice within five minutes and get away with it.

Reviewed on: 09 Aug 2001
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Black Samurai packshot
Agent for DRAGON sets out to rescue kidnapped girlfriend.
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Director: Al Adamson

Writer: B Readick

Starring: Jim Kelly, Essie Lin Chia, Marilyn Joi, D'urville Martin, Aldo Ray, Bill Roy, Felix Silla

Year: 1976

Runtime: 81 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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