From the opening titles of the movie:
"In the 1930s, a Japanese death cult called Hades bought poor kids from both China and around the world and trained them as assassins within China, believing that the latter could be destroyed spiritually from within. During WWII, the Hades was disbanded because it’s invasion strategy against China clashed with the objective of the Japanese military. Its founder and spiritual leader, Amano Kawao, was imprisoned and its members were exiled. Later when Japan met strong resistance in China, the Japanese military decided to revive the cult to facilitate the conquest of China."
The Prince went to see the imprisoned leader of Hades, Amano Kawao, and asked him to revive the cult personally, and once the cult was revived, he would be released from prison. To that end, he enlists one of his two greatest disciples, Kurashige Daisuke to revive the cult and restore it to its former glory. There’s a problem however. One of the former cult members, known only as K-29, left the cult when it disbanded and joined a Shaolin temple in the south, where he’s been training under a new master. When the elderly monk passes away however and word of Hades’ return starts to spread, he returns to the cult to free the children and the POWs they’ve taken there, and to take down the cult once and for all.
Typically I don’t read much about a film before I watch it, because I don’t want to taint my view of it before I’ve had a chance to see it. With this film, I got a bit curious so I looked at IMDB real quick to see what people said about it. Some liked it, while others didn’t. I for one actually enjoyed it quite a bit, though it did have one minor problem and one pretty major one.
The minor problem was that they had POWs of several different nationalities there, and yet most or all of them could inexplicably speak Chinese. Even the American POW, who we later find out was in the cult as a child can speak Chinese, even though the cult was run by the Japanese. Is it impossible that all of these people of different nationalities could speak Chinese? No, absolutely not…but it is improbable.
Now, the major problem, which is something I absolutely despise in any film I see it used in because it takes SO much of the impact away from the fight sequences. It’s the mixture of normal speed and slow motion during the fights. It drives me absolutely up the wall. When I see a fight in an action movie, I want to see it at full, normal speed. Don’t slow down a punch or a kick and then speed back up again after it. That’s not only irritating as all hell, but it destroys the flow and the feel of the fight. It’s a huge pet peeve of mine and it’s something that’s done frequently in this film.
That said, the fights in this movie are actually quite good. They’re well choreographed and exciting. Not only that, but a couple of the Vajra’s that K-29 has to kill before he gets to fight Kurashige are really crazy and entertaining characters. The first one is this ginormous guy who’d be lucky if the two brain cells he had in his head actually ran into each other once in a while to get reaquainted. He was strong though, and even though he wasn’t the fastest guy around, he could fight. It was one of those situations where he’s so big that if he actually gets a grip on you, you’re probably done. So K-29 had to take him out first and actually kill him to move on to the next fight, which he had to get through according to cult rules before he could fight Kurashige.
The next guy was sort of a combination of an insane Chinese or Japanese ghost character and a monkey. It was bizarre the way he’d move around, and he was very literally insane, but he was also an unbelievable fighter and gave K-29 a seriously hard time. You can probably guess how the final battle turned out, so I won’t bother getting into that one.
Aside from the slow-mo ruining the flow of the fight scenes, the rest of the movie was just gorgeous. It was shot beautifully and had a specific look to it as far as the coloration of everything. It was edited quite nicely and the story was well written and mostly coherent. The acting ranged from average to good, and all in all, I quite enjoyed the film.
For special features, this new release from Well Go USA includes a making of featurette, the trailer and optional English or French subtitles.
Have I seen better films in this genre than this one? Yes, I have, but I’ve also seen films that are a hell of a lot worse. This one is a good ride from start to finish with some great action and entertaining characters, and is definitely worth checking out.
If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check out its page on the Well Go USA website here, and if you’d like to pick up a copy of the blu-ray or DVD for yourself, you can get them from Amazon, or from any of the other usual outlets.