In Hong Kong Toki Konuma (Essie Lin Chia), the daughter of an influential politician there, has been kidnapped because her father was planning to take down the international drugs smuggling trade that operated out of the city. There's only one man who can save her, and he is immediately contacted: Robert Sand (Jim Kelly), an agent for top secret organisation D.R.A.G.O.N., though initially he is not interested in hearing about this new mission from his superiors, preferring to play tennis with a lady friend. But a lady friend is what alerts him to the seriousness of this case, for Toki is his ex-girlfriend - he'll have to save her now...
Jim Kelly was finding his career as a movie star winding down as he reached the end of the seventies and his tennis career began to take up more of his time, but he still found chances to make a couple of movies for trash auteur Al Adamson, of which Black Samurai was the first. Quite why it was still called that (it was loosely based on a pulp novel) is something of a mystery, as Kelly was not known for his swordfighting skills being a master of karate, and apart from two brief instances we don't see him with a sword in his hands for the whole movie, and certainly not to fight anyone with. It must have simply sounded cool and looked good on a poster.
Then again, making sense was not on the agenda here, as it was all about recreating the glamour of the James Bond series on a significantly lower budget, so you can imagine how that worked out for them. In truth, this effort has a terrible reputation with even those who profess themselves to be fans of this kind of fare having trouble finding anything good to say about it. Which for other bad movie fans makes it ideal viewing, naturally, as there are a wealth of absurdities to be spotted if the downmarket aesthetic on constant display throughout doesn't wear you down. Yes, Kelly gets into fights, all choreographed by himself, but that might not be the main attraction here.
For a start, the chief bad guy, the man who has kidnapped Toki, is Janicot (Bill Roy), a goateed criminal mastermind who is into voodoo, not that it appears to have done him much good on this evidence. Sure, he has a mansion to live in, and a few dozen henchmen willing to give up their lives for him, and even a pet vulture which knows kung fu (Sand gets to tangle with the creature at one point), but it just takes a one man fighting machine like our hero to take him down over the course of a couple of days. Janicot sends out a few heavies to rough him up, but before you know it their car will have blown up with them inside it, or they will be lying on the floor insensible thanks to a well-aimed karate chop.
Actually, they're more likely to be insensible thanks to a well-aimed boot to the bollocks, as Kelly likes to take out his aggression by delivering a kick between the legs of whatever bad guy is approaching him. Well, I suppose that would work in real life, too. Sand also seems to have pissed off the Little People's Association of America, because every so often a midget will fling himself in his general direction - one of them being Felix Silla of countless television and movie appearances - all without explanation and not exactly in a fair fight if truth be known. As if that were not bad enough, at one point Sand is attacked by Leee John of Imagination and his twin brother, decked out in their revealing leopard outfits. But it's hard to hate a film that features Jim Kelly donning a jetpack to infiltrate the villains' lair, and while Black Samurai is nowhere near as impressive as it appeared to hope, it is stupid enough to amuse the undemanding.
Prolific American director of chaotic exploitation movies, who directed some 30 films between 1961 and 1983. The titles of his films were often the best thing about them, but the likes of Satan's Sadists, Dracula vs Frankenstein and I Spit on your Corpse are popular amongst bad movie buffs. In a nasty end worthy of one of his films, Adamson was murdered in 1995, his body found buried under his freshly tiled bathroom.