Pray For Death

release year: 1985
genre: ninja action
viewing setting: home DVD, 2/29/20

synopsis: A Japanese ex-ninja foolishly moves his family from peaceful Japan to violent America, and must then deal with the inevitable problems using his deadly skills.

impressions: So this was the only Sho Kosugi ninja movie from the 1980s that I'd never seen or heard of (which is in itself amazing) and I finally caught up with it in 2020. Unfortunately, I was disappointed on many levels. The main character is a trained killer who's, frankly, too stupid to protect his family; his blunders include 1) letting his wife talk him into moving to America, 2) doing nothing after seeing that they've moved into a bad area, 3) leaving them unprotected multiple times despite knowing there are bad guys around, 4) only warning the main bad guy and then walking away. As for the main bad guy, he's just stupid and violent; he makes idiotic assumptions and acts on them - impulsively and poorly - and is violent for no reason. If I was the mafia leader who was this guy's boss, I'd get rid of him, because he causes more problems than he solves. This movie contained, among other things, a violent rape and murderous intentions toward children, neither of which I care to see when I'm watching a ninja movie or any other movie. Anyhow, other elements or interesting points: an old ninja master, a kid who beats three grown men, a ninja helmet! and body armor, a trained ninja attacking in broad daylight, some new ninja weapons, the day suddenly turning into night at the 81:00 mark, henchmen just showing up at the fight with no explanation, a warehouse full of dummies (including the ninja and the main bad guy, and probably me too for watching this movie), a silly cat-and-mouse chase through the warehouse of dummies, a table saw and a chain saw employed in the fight. It's like the director just threw in everything he could think of.

activation point: initial (non-lethal) activation at 52:00, when he goes into ninja mode to send a message; primary (lethal) activation at 71:00 when he goes into killing ninja mode

kills by Sho Kosugi: 21 confirmed

acting: Sho Kosugi did a pretty good job, but his character was stupid for the reasons I've outlined above. Donna Benz is his naive wife. His real-life sons Kane and Shane are his kids here, one of whom can fight. James Booth is the moronic and thoroughly evil thug.

final word: This is an 80s ninja movie that's not so fun; while the bad guys might have been praying for death, I was praying for it to end.

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