CHAMPIONS OF THE MARTIAL ARTS CINEMA by Myron King
(Published in the May/June 1989 issue of KARATE INTERNATIONAL magazine.)

SHO KOSUGI

This is the martial arts star whom most people delight in comparing to the late Bruce Lee. His dazzling displays of Karate and Ninjutsu techniques are at once pleasing to the eye and impressive in their apparent effectiveness in real-life situations. Showing more than average versatility as compared to many other karate stars turned actors, Kosugi has portrayed a full spectrum of characters, from villains (Enter the Ninja, The Master), to gung-ho heroes (9 Deaths of the Ninja, Rage of Honor), to a loving family man who basically wants to be left alone (Revenge of the Ninja, Pray for Death). In his newest combative epic, Black Eagle, Kosugi shows the style, sharpness of technique, and kinesiological ingenuity that one born into an actual Ninja family would be expected to possess, and to bring into his work, whatever it may be (in this case, acting).

Black Eagle is the first in a (possible) series of movies based upon the character that Kosugi portrays. This character is a special Government operative sent to Malta, where the filming took place, to retrieve a top-secret device from a lost American fighter jet. The villainous Soviet agent, portrayed by Jean-Claude Van Damme made Kosugiís life quite interesting, indeed, while treating the moviegoer to some of the best fight scenes ever viewed in a fighting arts film. In the end, the good guy came out on top. However, the ending left an opening for multiple sequels based on the character of Black Eagle.

Much serious thought went into the choreography of the fight scenes of this martial arts epic, as the contrast in the styles of these two stars was sharply delineated, giving the fight scenes a much more believable look than is usually seen in a fight flick.

Mr. Kosugi is one of the greatest contributors to the high quality of todayís Karate/Ninja films, and those who enjoy this type of movie will continue to wait anxiously to see what this combative genius and the martial art movie industry come up with next.