Pray for Death – 1985 – Sho Kusugi is the master ninja!

pray for deathThe first film I ever saw with Sho Kosugi was a flick called Ninja III –  The Domination. The VHS copy was a fourth or fifth-generation copy so the quality was pretty messed up (the Blu-ray edition is now among my belongings). I liked the story though and I have been hooked on Ninja flicks ever since. Not that I have many in my collection but I’m in no hurry. The Other day I got Pray for Death on Blu-ray in the mail. Blu-ray is the only way to watch these cult flicks in my opinion. They don’t have to be as crystal-sharp as they would be if it were a new film. The quality is still way better than VHS and DVD (in most cases). Personally, I think that it’s more rewarding owning the Blu-ray than the DVD too but that’s me. The collector in me!

Pray for Death is about this Japanese family moving to the US. The father, played by Sho Kosugi, is a retired ninja with a conscience that keeps nagging him. There is some event in his past he cannot let go of. He intends to live a quiet life and start over with his wife and children in the USA. But fate has other things in mind for him. Unwillingly he gets caught in some mischief around the neighborhood. He just cannot ignore the organized crime attacking his newfound friends. Soon he himself and his family are the targets. One thing leads to another and he finds himself seeking vengeance. The transformation from quiet neighbor to full-fetched ninja has begun.

Pray for death

The opening scenes of the movie almost made me drop my jaw to the ground. Because there is no blood even if the sword works on killing during the opening sequence. I was about to dismiss it as a rubbish movie but a few minutes later I got the explanation why. That’s good enough for me! Blood isn’t everything in a ninja flick anyway. Speaking of that. I remember me and my friends manufacturing throwing stars as a child. Well, I guess I was about ten or so. It’s one of the coolest and most violent weapons used in the film industry. We even had a wooden wall where we could throw them. Oh, those memories…

The ninja costume is atypical I think. Sho Kosugi wears some kind of helmet which is not the most common thing in these movies I think. It looks cool and suits the movie well though. I like it. There isn’t the full amount of mysticism and ninjitsu that I would like though. Not if I compare to Ninja III – The Domination. But I guess that’s not a fair comparison anyway. Pray for Death is a fine revenge movie that happens to have a ninja in it. I can’t see it as a “true” ninja flick though. But I cannot nail exactly why. I like the movie but there is something missing.

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