BRONSON LEE, CHAMPION (the karate) (1974 JAPAN) D: YUKIO NODA W: SEIKO SHIMURA/KOUJI TAKADA
New Line Cinema released an English dubbed version of the first entry in this karate series (not the third as is often erroneously claimed) starring Tadashi Yamashita in America (in 1982). Jack Sholder (who worked on the Americanized THE STREETFIGHTER and THE TATTOOED HIT-MAN) is credited as Editor, so maybe it was cut and/or messed around with. Anyway, in this version i saw (which runs 79 mins.) Yamashita stars as Bronson Lee, a half-Japanese American `nam vet from Akron, Ohio (portrayed as a backward hick town) who arrives in Japan (wearing a cowboy hat) to take part in a Budo tournament. He befriends a family who run a ramen store (including the late Shingo Yamashiro as irritating comic relief), fights various international competitors (including a hatchet-throwing Mexican) and battles tournament-fixing gangsters. The ending has him blind and facing-off against the Singaporean Black Tiger (who seems almost retarded in the English dub). Yamashita`s yelps account for the Lee, and i guess the moustache is the Bronson part?!? Either way, he`s an extraordinarily ugly man (who`s dojo has a website, by the way). Not bad 70`s wacka-wacka guitar-led hokum of it`s type. Neither THE KARATE 2 or 3 were released outside Japan.

Futher confirming my suspicions that New Line fucked-about with it, i don`t recall that fight in the river on the VHS box art.

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