The Challenge

Amos Stevens

New Member
John Frankenheimer draws on the screenwriting talents of John Sayles in a martial arts thriller starring Scott Glenn as American boxer Rick Murphy. In Kyoto, 35 years earlier, the elderly Takeshi hands down two sacred samurai swords, or katanas, to his oldest son, Yoshida (Toshirô Mifune), but they are stolen by his other son, Hideo (Atsuo Nakamura), who has his father killed and subsequently loses one of the swords during World War II. Thirty-five years later the sword is found in Los Angeles, and Rick, a burned-out boxer, is hired to go to Japan to deliver the sword to Yoshida, a highly revered master samurai. But he's kidnapped in Osaka by Hideo's henchmen; Hideo has now become an evil and immensely wealthy businessman. After Toshio (Sab Shimono), Yoshida's son, is murdered by Hideo's goons, Yoshida manages to free Rick from his brother's compound. Despite the boxer's crude arrogance and contempt for Asian mores, he agrees to submit to martial arts instruction from Yoshida. As his training progresses, he's filled with a sense of self-respect long absent from his life, and the new allies look toward the final battle with Hideo. Sayles adds depth to the martial arts genre, exploring themes of honor, the corruption of wealth, and the end of the samurai tradition. The director keeps things moving along briskly, with a solid Glenn, a typically magnificent Mifune, and martial arts choreography by Steven Seagal.