Let's see, one, two, three, four, five, six and seven. Yep, there are definitely seven bikini-clad Japanese chicks onscreen at same time in this film. Oh, hello, I'm just making sure I got the right number of bikini-clad Japanese chicks who appear in this movie. You see, I don't want to mislead anyone into thinking they were getting more, or less for that matter, than the actually number of bikini-clad Japanese chicks who giggle and jiggle up a storm in this martial arts masterpiece, as that would be wrong. While most people tend to focus on the plethora of extraordinary fight sequences, I, for some strange reason, became fixated with the bevy of bikini-clad Japanese chicks who greet the film's hero in one of the film's early scenes (by the way, does seven bikini-clad Japanese chicks qualify as a "bevy" or do you need a couple more in order for it to attain bevy status?). Anyway, I was watching Roaring Fire (a.k.a. Hoero Tekken), the film that features a total of seven bikini-clad Japanese chicks, on a lark recently on a non-movie review day, when all of a sudden... (Let me guess, a bevy, or something close to being a bevy, of bikini-clad Japanese chicks appeared onscreen?) Hey, how did you know? (Lucky guess.) As I was saying, I was watching the film purely as entertainment. In other words, I had no intention of reviewing it. When all of a sudden, the overly aforementioned bevy/maybe bevy of bikini-clad Japanese chicks show up out of nowhere.
When this happened, I started to panic. Too many bikini-clad Japanese chicks onscreen all at once... can't concentrate, I began to mumble to myself. As the bevy/maybe bevy of bikini-clad Japanese chicks eventually started to dissipate, I felt a wave of relief wash over me.
Almost roped into reviewing a material arts flick by a bunch, I mean, by a bevy/maybe bevy of bikini-clad Japanese chicks, I felt like I had just dodged a bullet.
Confident that the worst of this sudden burst of inclement bikini-clad Japanese chicks was over, I went back to watching the film in a calm and relaxed manner (for those of you interested, I watched the film whilst in the seated position).
You won't believe what happens next. As Joji (Hiroyuki Sanada) is listening to his Uncle Ikeda (Seizô Fukumoto) berate an underling in front of a painting of Adolf Hitler from the relative comfort of a super-secret hallway, we are privy to one of the greatest scenes in the history of femdom, subtle slit appreciation, nylon worship and shoe fetishism. Okay, maybe I'm over selling it a bit. But make no mistake, the moment Uncle Ikeda's sexy henchwoman presses the heel of her right shoe into the hand of the now cowering underling was the moment I decided to review this movie.
Since it was still a "non-movie review day," I stopped the film immediately after the henchwoman removed her heel from the underling's hand, and scheduled to watch the film in its entirety at a later date. Which is something I've never done before.
I must say, I came close to stopping the film during the bikini-clad Japanese chicks scene, also known as the Hiroyuki Sanada vs. Abdullah the Butcher pool side meet and greet. But cooler heads prevailed. However, I was rendered powerless the second I saw the henchwoman stab that underling's hand with the heel of her shoe. Seriously, I had no choice. My hands were tied.
Now, this may come as a surprise, but in-between all the stuff involving bikini clad Japanese chicks, nylon-ensnared Japanese legs and feet stomping the heels of their shoes into the hands of blubbering underlings is a pretty amazing martial arts movie. (Oh, yeah, you did call this film a "martial arts masterpiece.) That's right, I did. So, technically, this shouldn't come as a surprise. Either way, the movie, directed by Noribumi Suzuki and featuring fight choreography by Sonny Chiba, kicks a ton of ass. (Only a ton?) Okay, it kicks a shitload of ass. And I think it had a hand in inventing parkour.
Starting off on the mean streets of Hong Kong, a Japanese man named Toru (Hiroyuki Sanada) is gunned down by gangsters in an alleyway. Meanwhile, in Texas, a Japanese man named Joji (Hiroyuki Sanada) is herding cattle. As he's doing this, he gets word that his ill father is dying. Rushing to his deathbed, Joji learns that his father is not who says he is. We're only five minutes into the film, yet Roaring Fire has already featured scenes that boast Hong Kong-style street violence and cattle herding in Texas. I wonder where we're going next?
After the theme song, sung, of course, by Hiroyuki Sanada, is over, we're whisked to Kobe, Japan, where Joji and Peter, his monkey companion, are looking for the home of his blood relatives (he doesn't know his long lost twin brother was gunned down by gangsters in Hong Kong and thinks the plane crash that killed his parents was an accident).
Anyone care to guess what Joji finds when he gets to the house? That's right, a bevy/maybe bevy of bikini-clad Japanese chicks playing in the pool. But what's this? Peter seems to be carrying a red object in his little monkey hands. Holy crap, Peter just swiped the red bikini top off of one of the Japanese chicks. Am I crazy, or this film starting to resemble Malibu Beach or The Beach Girls? If you remember correctly, those films also had an animal who liked to steal women's bikini tops, only it was a dog, not a monkey.
As you might expect, the now topless Japanese chick is none to pleased that a monkey stole her bikini top. Crowding around Joji, who is now holding the red bikini top, the Japanese chicks start accusing him of being a pervert. During the ensuing kerfuffle, Joji accidentally removes the bikini top of another Japanese chick. This causes the bevy/maybe bevy of bikini-clad/topless Japanese chicks to unleash their secret weapon.
Emerging from the water like the Creature from the Black Leather Lagoon, Spartacus (Abdullah the Butcher) picks up Joji and tosses him in the air like a bag of low-cost potting soil. Landing on his feet with a cat-like efficiency, Joji proceeds to mock Spartacus by leaping around the pool area like a monkey. An unamused Spartacus demands that Joji cease this activity by repeating the line: "Come down, monkey" over and over again. I have to say, the combination of bikini-clad Japanese chicks, Windsor, Ontario born wrestler Abdullah the Butcher, and the sight of Hiroyuki Sanada jumping all over the place is making my head spin. I mean, why can't all movies feature a scene like this?
Later in the day, after downing about a dozen plates of spaghetti, Joji meets Chihiro (Etsuko Shihomi), his blind sister for the very first time. She is living with her Uncle Ikeda, an, as we'll soon find out, evil, Nazi-loving bastard.
Even though a nightclub ventriloquist (Sonny Chiba) tries to inform Joji that his uncle is bad news via his act (his basically accuses his uncle of killing Joji's parents), he eventually finds out when he eavesdrops on one of his conversation. And, yes, it's the conversation that involves his uncle's shapely henchwoman pressing the heel of her shoe into the hand of a cowering underling.
When his uncle reveals his true nature, Joji decides he wants nothing to do with him. Unfortunately, before Joji can leave in a huff, his uncle shoots him with a tranquilizer dart. Waking up in a pit, Joji is pitted against a boxer and a martial artist wielding a sword on a stick. (You mean a spear?) No, it was a sword on a stick. After defeating them, Joji manages to escape, with the help of Abdullah the Butcher ("Oh no! I am champion").
Things are complicated somewhat when Joji procures a large diamond ("The Queen of Sheba"), one that his uncle desperately wants. In order to obtain it, his uncle eventually uses his blind sister as a bargaining chip. However, before things come to that, we get a great foot chase sequence involving about a dozen relentless goons in kasa hats, six or seven nuns (one wearing red panties), three school girls, and Mikio Narita in a pink Popeye ball cap.
Oh, and if you think Joji's sister is some kind of damsel in distress, think again, as Etsuko Shihomi knows a thing or two about kicking ass. (Isn't her character blind?) A little thing like blindness isn't going to prevent Etsuko from defending herself. And boy does she ever, when Etsuko takes on about ten of her uncle's henchmen at once.
Culminating with an epic showdown that takes place in Hong Kong and on a nearby island, Roaring Fire is an excellent showcase for Hiroyuki Sanada, who's natural charisma is on full display in this film, especially during the chaotic finale, where he takes on about fifty henchmen (some wielding metal pipes) and chases down a jeep on a horse. His arduous task would have no doubt been a whole lot easier had the bevy/maybe bevy of bikini-clad Japanese chicks been there to help him. But judging by the way Hiroyuki punches and kicks his way through this unorganized gaggle of henchmen, it wouldn't have made much of a difference. Hiya!