Just Pillow Talk’s Birthday Nightmare: Black Samurai (1977)
Welcome back to Just Pillow Talk’s continuing quest to prove that bad film isn’t a new phenomenon. Things took a turn for the better for him in our last instalment with Scorsese’s masterful Taxi Driver, can his lucky streak keep going?
Before I hand it over to Pillows, I just want to apologise for the shitty resolution of a lot of these images. I did look for better ones, but I’m at work and they all seem to be blocked. However, you can get the general idea. Basically, any hackery in this review is my fault and not JPT.
Anyhoo, over to the man himself, for the Black Samurai review (I hope there’s a tiger in a hat):
Question: How long does it take to wipe away the good vibes of Taxi Driver?
Answer: One movie.
Welcome one and all to the next installment of my quest to destroy my humanity. Black Samurai opens with the Ambassador’s daughter being trailed by 3 thugs. They follow her to her house? where they kidnap her and take out her 3 servants, two of whom stand by the pool quite patiently waiting to get blasted by a gun. The thugs oblige. After some stellar graphics and um, soulful 70’s music, we find out samurai, Robert Sands (Jim Kelly) playing tennis. He’s rudely interrupted by his superiors Farnsworth and Pines, who inform him that they need his help to take out the evil voodoo witchdoctor Janicot. We find out that Sands is some agent for D.R.A.G.O.N., which I had to look up what it stood for: Defense Reserve Agency Guardian Of Nations – brilliant!) Sands doesn’t want any part of it, just to continue on his vacation. After all, he doesn’t want his tennis game to get stale, all the other samurai will laugh at him. But his superiors have the ace in the deck…the ambassador’s daughter Toki is none other than Sands’ girl! He’s on the case!
He quickly gets on a plane and flies to wherever the hell he needs to go. But before we get to the action, it’s time for a flashback of the good times he shared with Toki. Alas for Jim Kelly, I think the 70’s weren’t prepared for a black man to kiss an Asian woman, so he barely got to touch her. He’s a fucking samurai for Christ’s sake, give him some slack people!
There’s a couple encounters with Janicot’s men who he of course disposes of in short order. His break comes when Pines shows up and tells him Janicot is throwing a party (what evil mastermind doesn’t?) and he’s got an invitation to get him in. Once at the party, Sands meets Synne, who is Janicot’s high priestess. The conversation between Sands and Synne can only be described as dire. They hit it off, due to both of them having brain damage, and she introduces Sands to Janicot. Janicot’s got the dibs on our samurai though, and tells him he knows he works for DRAGON. Sands boogies out of there, but not before throwing a vulture (yes, Janicot has a vulture at the party) at some of the goons. He fights off the token henchmen, but the one redeeming part of this is he’s attacked by midget henchmen! Yes! He just hops over them and sort of pushes them down to the ground.
Pines, unbeknown to Sands, has been gotten to by Janicot and feeding him bad intelligence. He tells Sands that Toki is at a villa. Sands gets there before you know it in his handy dandy jet pack. It comes with a spiffy matching helmet too! He gets attacked by some, er, tribesmen and a vine swinging midget wearing a cowboy hat. Seriously. Sands takes care of them quite easily, including throwing a boulder on top of a tribesman’s head. Quite funny.
Sands then gets intelligence from Pines that Janicot is having a voodoo ceremony of some sort at his voodoo HQ and Toki is being held there. Sands infiltrates voodoo HQ and finds Synne and asks her where Toki is. She puts up resistance, telling Sands “I’d be stupid to.” Sands will have none of that, “You’d be stupider not to.” She relents under this extreme pressure and tells Sands where Toki is. Once he busts her out, they get nabbed by Janicot’s men, along with Pines. They are tied up, but stupid ropes ain’t gonna hold the Black Samurai! He escapes and the battle is on!
Once again, the midget henchmen show up, and Pines, though they give him a run for his money, takes them out. Sands get to karate punch the vulture, which is amusing. After beating up some more guys, Sands finally catches up to Janicot. No great death scene here though, just thrown into the dungeon with a bunch of snakes who kill him. But it’s quite fitting because I’ve never run across a more bland, non-threatening main evil dude than Janicot.
The movie ends when a few henchmen are still left and ready to do battle with Sands. He calmly picks out a stick of gum, who the hell knows, and throws it at said bad guys. It explodes, they all die. Sands utters “I guess that’s the end”, and walk away. Yup, I guess it is.
It’s a bad movie, no doubt about it. But I’m sure with enough beer, it can be sort of entertaining. It does have midgets and a vulture being thrown and punched, which are all good things that should be in more movies. It did lack a crazy over-the-top villain though, which really hurt its cheesiness factor. It clocks it at a quick 82 minutes, though it did seem longer. The fight scenes are of course horrendous. I apologize Jim Kelly, as I know you choreographed them. Perhaps you were focusing on your lines too much, and not enough on the henchmen’s parts in the action scenes.
I give Black Samurai 1.5 Jim Kelly afros out of 4.
Tidbit alert: Apparently it was known as “The Freeze Bomb” in Europe. I have no fucking idea why.
Next up: The Betsy