Black men who know martial arts, a staple of seventies cinema (even though one of these films is from 2003).
Robert Sand (Jim Kelly) is The Black Samuraui, top agent of D.R.A.G.O.N. (Defense Reserve Agency Guardian Of Nations). When his old squeeze- the daughter of the Minister for the Samurai Code- is kidnapped so that her father can be blackmailed, Sand cuts short his holiday to take down the satanists who have snatched her.
Sand investigates the only way he knows how- by beating the shit out of a bunch of people and eventually getting caught. There’s an entertaining, if over-long, jetpack sequence, a sportscar with a gun hidden in its rear wheelwell and lots of fights of varying quality. It’s never explained why the satanists employ so many persons of reduced stature, or how their leader’s pet vulture turns out to be a better fighter- keeping the BS pinned for at least a minute- than his henchmen. The story, such as there is, exists merely to hang these bits and pieces on and, as such, doesn’t have to make much sense. Which is good, because it doesn’t.
Next to Black Ninja, however, Black Samurai is a masterpiece of plotting, acting, editing and fight choreography. Black Ninja is a really, really bad film, but some of the awfulness is the sort that’s hilarious.
Malik Ali is a high flying defence attorney whose power suits are almost as bad as his closing arguments. Somehow, he keeps getting obviously guilty crims off the hook. Then he goes out in the night wearing a face mask and Zorro outfit to beat up the guys he just got freed. It doesn’t make any sense as a plan, but he does get to castrate the rapist he got cleared on grounds of stupidity.
All the while, Black Ninja is tracking down the man who killed his family- a Japanese martial artist who dresses like Fu Manchu and has an accent and camp mannerisms that jump across the line into racism. When Malik falls for the key witness in a mafia murder case it all begins to come together, sort of.
The lack of budget shows. The sound is awful, lighting is murky, the scenes static and the acting stilted. The plotting is dire and the script mostly maudlin rubbish. But it’s worth it for the occasional moments where it appears to develop self awareness and is genuinely hilarious. If only the rest of the film could have maintained the standard of these few bits of brightness.