From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
Teruo Ishii’s The Executioner just might be the most over the top martial arts film in Sonny Chiba's career. Endless silly humor is accompanied by quality action and some incredibly brutal violence. You’re likely to fall off your chair during some of the comedy bits... although the humor can’t be described very intelligent or clever. The martial arts scenes are pretty good too, and definitely brutal. Near the end Yasuaki Kurata enters the screen and delivers his best Bruce Lee imitation with a straight face. The camerawork is pretty good throughout and not too shaky, although for some reason I recall once thinking so. Anyone with a taste for ”quality films” should stay away as this is one of Chiba’s rudest and trashiest films. Everybody else; enjoy the ride.
The story is non-existent (even on genre standards) but that’s hardly a problem. Chiba plays a modern mercenary with a ninja training (a member of Koga family, actually) although he’s not exactly a ninja and never dresses like one. But the early scenes do deliver some fun for ninja fanatics. Also worth noting is that there’s a short flashback scene in the beginning where the ”young Chiba” is played by Hiroyuki Sanada. It was his first movie role and he was 13 years old at the time. Other notable supporting stars include Makoto Sato, Eiji Go, Yukata Nakajima, and Masahiro Stugata as the main villain. The way he plays out his role reminds me lot of Hideo Murota in the second Sister Street Fighter film (made later the same year). Murota himself also makes a brief but memorable appearance in the film.
The R1 Adness transfer is quite good. Some scenes display notable boosting while others look perfect. There’s quite a lot of small scratches but since the whole film has a very dirty and raw feeling the transfer is actually quite fit. The audio sound a bit muffled a few times but it’s not a big problem. The only extras are original trailers for the film (no special footage) and the sequel. The cover art is nice and the reverse side has a picture of the original poster. Note that there is also a Toei dvd available (from their December 2006 batch) but I’m unaware of its quality.
Reviewed by Hung Fist