So, as I mentioned previously my character Bertie was born out of some of John Lone’s previous performances – which ones? Well, there are three of his films that stand out significantly to me and I will review each one per blog post. The films deserve that rather than being stacked and cluttered into one blog post.
Writer: J.F. Lawton
Director: J.F. Lawton
IMDb rating: 5.9/10
Starring Christopher Lambert, (post-Highlander fame), Joan Chen and the mighty Yoshio Harada . John’s character is the ruthless ninja master, Kinjo.
A business trip to Nagoya lands Paul (Lambert) in deep water after a meeting with an enchanting lady (Chen) leads to him witnessing her execution and the face of her murderer, Kinjo. A marked man, his days are obviously now numbered as a thwarted assassination by the ninjas sees him fleeing for his life.
His protector, Sensei Takeda (Yoshio Harada) leads Paul to safety on an island fortress where he learns swordsmanship and grows some (much needed) balls. Personally I find Lamberts’ character quite uninspiring in comparison to the others that surround him and impact his life. I neither cared if his character lived or died in the story, rather I was more engaged with wondering about Sensei Takeda and his background feud with the ninjas.
Harada’s presence in this film is EPIC, he makes a convincing, dedicated Sensei – especially in the scene on the train where completely unfazed he takes on multiple ninjas as they are wiping out the passengers, carriage by carriage, to get to Paul. Ideally I wish he’d kept his cool shades on in this fight scene, plus his wife is as bad ass as he is. What a couple!
Kinjo himself is haunted by the ghost of the executed lady, he is cold, menacing, but there is a level of vulnerability too which is well portrayed by Lone. This is where I first noticed Johns’ tonal range too, his gruff vocals for this character in comparison to the beautiful, light voice of Song Liling in M.Butterfly. He plays this villain so well, so intimidating! I do not know anything of his background in martial arts or if he just trained specifically for this movie, but it’s so convincing – again he manages to completely own the whole character as you can see that it’s pure skill rather than effects on film.
The showdown between Takeda and Kinjo is by far the best part of the story for me and most memorable. This is amongst one of the best sword fights I have seen, because it’s the most natural. The heavy atmosphere, the rain, the two great masters facing each other, one has to die. The ending is totally ruined with the annoying Westerner taking the glory, rather than Takeda’s wife at least. But this totally doesn’t overshadow Harada and Lone’s performances in this film. Unforgettable.
For Bertie: – intimidation, his ghosts and most importantly, the EPIC, heady showdown.
I am very sad to see that Yoshio Harada passed away in 2011 and I will dedicate this post to his memory plus make a donation to Aid for Japan – The Charity for Orphans after Tsunami and Earthquake.
My heart is forever at your service. William Shakespeare