Black Belt | aka Kuro-Obi (2007) Review

"Black Belt" International Theatrical Poster

"Black Belt" International Theatrical Poster

Director: Shunichi Nagasaki
Writer: George Iida
Cast: Akihito Yagi, Tatsuya Naka, Yuji Suzuki, Fuyuhiko Nishi
Running Time: 120 min.

By Mighty Peking Man

After their karate master passes away, two of his best students take opposite directions in life. Giryu (Akihito Yagi), chooses a more philosophical approach, practicing his master’s passive, yet effective, teachings on karate. Taikan (Tatsuya Naka), follows a more savage path, fueled by what he believes karate is all about. The two clash and duel it out, but only one will be their master’s successor and inherit his Black Belt.

If you ever decide to check this movie out, try not to watch it back-to-back with any other martial arts movies. If you do, Black Belt will expose just how light, unrealistic and cartoony those titles really are – all 99% of them.

If you’re looking for some over-the-top Tony Jaa/Jackie Chan/Jet Li type stuff, you won’t find it here. There are no guys flying around on wires, nobody flipping around on moving vehicles, and not a single elephant to walk on; The choreography in Black Belt consists of fights that appear to be as natural and realistic as they possibly could for the camera. As cut and dry as the sequences are, they’re so intense that you can feel the power.

The non-action segments of the film are simple and straightforward. I’m not the biggest Japanese film conessiur, but a similar title that comes to mind would be Kitano Takeshi’s Hana-Bi (aka Fireworks). They both have a calm, somewhat generic, but beautiful, feel to them. But low and behold, when it’s time for some violence, the viewer WILL notice.

One thing’s for sure, that scene in Fists of Fury – where Bruce Lee walks into a dojo full of karate men and kicks their asses with no problem – will never feel the same again.

Martial arts movies aren’t supposed to be this good.

Mighty Peking Man’s Rating: 10/10

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7 Responses to Black Belt | aka Kuro-Obi (2007) Review

  1. Turhan Juarren Gushiniere says:

    Good review and I agree with the rating. Soon as I get time, i’ll have to look at this one again. Great film, and very realistic!

    • Yeah, this film was practically ignored by the ‘common’ viewer. After all, who wants to invest their time in a movie simply labeled “black belt.” Thanks for checking out the review. I should re-watch this flick again as well!

  2. leopard says:

    Loved this movie, wish ther was a pt2

  3. leopard says:

    Loved this movie, wish they do a 2nd part!!!!!!

  4. DougWonnacott says:

    I also loved this movie. The fights seemed simple, yet original, intense, realistic (without being dull) and clearly performed by real Karate masters. Jim Kelly was amazing (only joking).

    I’ve seen Redbelt. I liked it. A great film overall with the great British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor being very impressive in the lead. My only (small) criticism is that Brazilian Ju Jitsu isn’t the most aesthetically satisfying martial art to watch.

    • Good to know you appreciate RED BELT as much as I did. It isn’t action packed as your usual “martial arts” film, but it’s rich in character, dialogue and tension, which makes it an overall great flick.

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