Running time: 81 min.
Ghost Warrior begins with a simple enough premise: Yoshimitsu (Hiroshi Fujioka) is a 16th century samurai, battling to save his woman from enemies, when he is wounded and tumbles off a cliff into an icy lake below, which preserves him until he is dicovered in the 1980s. Of course, rather than be property of Japan, he just has to be shipped to Los Angeles for study. That must have been part of some agreement between the two countries: you ship us all your discovered frozen corpses and we'll send you Air Supply.
In Los Angeles, Chris Welles (Janet Julian, Humongous) is summoned to the labortory of Dr. Alan Richards (John Calvin, Critters 3), to be part of an autopsy on the speciment, at least that's what she thinks. Welles is an expert in "oriental history" (her words, not mine) and is told by Dr. Richards that there is more than just an autopsy going on here. It turns out that Dr. Richards is conducting an experiment that he hopes will bring the thawed Yoshimitsu back to life. Well, fortunately for the film, it works! The frozen samurai is awakened and kept in the hospital for observation. Here is what a well-preserved samurai looks like after a 330 year nap:
|"I had a dream that my people were marrying something called Pokemon..."|
Dr. Richards and Chris continue to visit "Yoshi" and Chris, who admits that she doesn't know much Japanese, determines that it may be time to return his swords to him, "so he doesn't feel like a prisoner". DO NOT GIVE HIM HIS SWORDS!! DON'T DO IT! YOU'LL BE SORRY! DON'T----well, it's too late. The "oriental history" scholar has given the samurai his swords. A male nurse overhears that the swords may be worth a lot of money, so he decides to walk into Yoshi's room one night while he is sleeping, but you know where this goes: the dude winds up dead and bleeding all over the floor and Yoshi has left the building.
Yoshi roams the city of Los Angeles. I'm sorry, let me rephrase that: Yoshi slowly walks around the city of Los Angeles. He comes across a gang of punks attempting to rob an old man of his money, and Yoshi saves the day by slicing off a hand or two and chasing one of them off. The old man, Willie Walsh (Charles Lampkin, Cocoon), befriends him and takes him to a Japanese sushi restaurant. A couple there mistake him for the great Japanese actor, Toshiro Mifune, in a clever bit of dialogue. However, if Toshiro Mifune was really in this movie, I would accuse him of just collecting a paycheck. The restaurant is then under attack by the surviving punk from earlier and more of his two-bit friends as they bait Yoshi to follow them into....wait for it........an abandoned warehouse. Here we get more slicing and dicing, and Yoshi's new friend Willie ends up getting injured in the melee. Meanwhile, Chris and Dr. Richards have caught up to Yoshi and attempt to get him the hell out of there. Dr. Richards has a change of heart and wants nothing more to do with this lunacy, while Chris takes him outside the city, where they find a horse. Yoshi takes the horse and Chris for a ride, in a scene that is so ridiculously audacious after everything we've seen. Eventually, Yoshi is being hunted by LAPD; Dr. Richards wants to abort his experiment, and more people get sliced up. We come full circle by the end of the film, with Yoshi surrounded by enemies.
This film has a running time of just over eighty minutes, but the pacing of the film made it feel like one hundred and eighty minutes. This is not the most exciting, action-packed film ever, which is a let down when you realize that there is a 16th century samurai warrior on the loose in LA and all kinds of shit could go down. Director Larry Carroll never directed another film. This is his only directing credit, although he had a decent career as a television screenwriter. "Don't quit your day job" could apply here. The performances from the cast were about what you would expect from a film of this caliber, and when accompanied by some pretty bad dialogue, you can get some awkwardly funny moments at times. The only action in this film was provided by Yoshi and his sword, and when they were not on screen, there wasn't much else happening. It is very plausible that people could fall alseep watching this.
This isn't Iceman. We're not going to get a gentle, sweet story about a prehistoric man learning this new world and slowly getting acclimated to it. No sir, this samurai wants his swords and is ready to hack up anybody that he thinks is out to harm him. We know this coming in, but without changing the ideas brought to the table, this film could have given us something more.
Score: 2/5. If you want to go ahead and give this a shot, make sure it's during the day and that you've had a pot of coffee in you.