Also known as: Karate Olympia (South African English title), Karate Killer (original US release)
Release Date: June 17th, 1976 (South Africa)
Directed by: Ivan Hall
Written by: C.F. Beyers-Boshoff
Cast: James Ryan, Charlotte Michelle, Nroman Coombes, Raymond Ho-Tong, Danie DuPlessis, Stan Schmidt
Kavalier Films, Film Ventures International, 90 Minutes
When I watched and reviewed this film’s sequel, I didn’t know that this one existed. I guess it kind of flew under my radar for years.
Overall, it’s probably a better movie than its sequel but I’d say that it’s less enjoyable, as the sequel was more bonkers than this one and it was just much more over the top.
That’s not to say that this one also isn’t a bit crazy.
The story is about a Nazi general that felt embarrassed when his fighting team lost in the Olympics way back in the day because Miyagi, the leader of the Japanese team, paid off the judges with diamonds. Now, years later, the general trains and holds tournaments in a fortress in the desert.
This brings in James Ryan, as Steve – the same character he plays in the sequel, who is essentially a badass karate fighter that is forced to fight in the Nazi dude’s tournament. This movie is basically a ’90s fighting game with a Nazi twist to it.
Steve and his girlfriend want to escape the Nazi fortress but they run into problems along the way but end up getting assistance from other fighters and a midget that is sympathetic to them, even though he is the henchman of the Nazi general.
See, this movie is pretty nuts.
Anyway, it’s fairly enjoyable for what it is and I loved the locations where this movie was shot. South Africa is pretty beautiful and it provided some spectacular landscapes that made this low budget action flick seem like a much bigger production.
I thought the tournament fights and general action sequences were well done and even though this doesn’t hold a candle to the best action films Cannon made in the ’80s, it really channels the same sort of energy and vibe. It’s almost like this is a proto-Cannon film.
Overall, most people would probably serve themselves best by skipping this movie. But for those of us who enjoy martial arts schlock from outside of the US, this is worth checking out.
Pairs well with: its sequel, Kill and Kill Again.