The Bodyguard


1h 26m 1976

Brief Synopsis

Sonny Chiba is a karate master who hates drugs. When he returns to Japan, he holds a press conference to announce that he intends to rid his country of illegal drugs, and offers to serve as a bodyguard to anyone who will give him information about the drug lords' activities. A woman soon responds to

Film Details

Also Known As
Bodyguard
MPAA Rating
Release Date
1976

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 26m

Synopsis

Sonny Chiba is a karate master who hates drugs. When he returns to Japan, he holds a press conference to announce that he intends to rid his country of illegal drugs, and offers to serve as a bodyguard to anyone who will give him information about the drug lords' activities. A woman soon responds to his offer, but Chiba wonders if she can be trusted.

Film Details

Also Known As
Bodyguard
MPAA Rating
Release Date
1976

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 26m

Articles

The Bodyguard/Sister Street Fighter - Sonny Chiba in THE BODYGUARD - The Headliner in a Grindhouse Double Feature


The Bodyguard (aka: Karate Kiba / Viva Chiba the Bodyguard, 1976) comes packaged as a Sonny Chiba double-feature alongside Sister Street Fighter (aka; Onna hissatsu ken, 1974). This dvd is part of the "Welcome to the Grindhouse Double Feature" series launched by BCI's Deimos Entertainment on July 3rd to showcase the original exploitation films that inspired the Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriquez Grindhouse (2007) release. The Bodyguard's influence on Tarantino is apparent from the very shot: text scrolls up the screen allowing the audience to read a cribbing of Ezekiel 25:17. The text is inescapable even for those who don't like to read, thanks to a narration that has all the subtlety of a ranting lunatic heralding the apocalypse - and it obviously made an impression on Tarantino who later worked it into Samuel L. Jackson's memorable dialogue at the end of Pulp Fiction (1994).

The Bodyguard begins with shots of New York City, settling in on a church as a family leaves service only to be mowed down by a band of Asian thugs with machine guns. Newspaper headlines announce the death of a drug-running Mafioso. Cut to: a blood-spattered "Rippon-American Production Presents" title-card, followed by martial arts action over which we see the words "VIVA CHIBA!" appear in red, followed by The Bodyguard title in a glorious, yellow, twisty seventies fat-font. As the credits continue over the scene of martial arts practitioners doing their thing in a forest, the sound of a crowd chanting Chiba's name over-and-over is briefly heard. Welcome to the Grindhouse indeed!

The zany opening continues with eerie music and then we cut to the seedy sidewalks of NYC (and past a film marquee advertising a Cantinflas show, Mexico's version of Charlie Chaplin). Then: up a flight of stairs to visit the office of the New York Karate Academy where two Karate studs make mince meat of other students and then discuss the difference between Sonny Chiba and Bruce Lee. (This prologue "allowed Aquarius to play up the presence of martial arts champs Aaron Banks and Bill Louie on the poster," as noted by Hong Kong Digital). It's a scene that ends when one asks the other where Sonny Chiba is now, and the answer, "He's on his way back to Tokyo... running down some drugs." That's the only segue needed to put us on a plane with shifty-eyed gunmen looking for Chiba - who they do find, much to their misfortune. Chiba lands and is greeted at a press conference where he announces his intention of smashing the narcotics ring that is plaguing both Japan and the US. He does this by slicing the top off of a coke bottle with his bare hands and then announcing, on TV, that he'll provide his services as a bodyguard to anybody who has working knowledge of the narcotics gang.

Chiba, always dressed in a snappy suit and tie, is then visited by a mysterious woman who takes him up on his offer. This setup momentarily evokes Sam Spade, but such nostalgic trappings are quickly dispelled when we see nudity, two assassins cutting their way out of a couch (!), graphic dismemberments, sexually explicit dialogue, and much more. As Chiba himself says, as he picks up the detached arm of an assailant from the floor, "This sure as hell was a bloody show. We shoulda sold tickets, huh?"

Critics who put a high premium on cogent narratives, or even just martial-arts enthusiasts hoping for more gymnastics and less fire-power, are quick to label this an effort that will only appeal to "Chiba completists." But there is also some rough-and-tumble charm in the various sleazy settings and colorful fashion statements coming out of the early seventies, not to mention some dynamic angles and edits that invigorate the proceedings with a kinetic energy that still feels fresh today. There is, for example, a two-minute-long scene with an axe-wielding thug and his buddies that feels almost Godardian. It kicks off with the line: "I know you. Always with the dope and women." A jazzy score is introduced as the scene builds up a tempo. And then in mid-riff it cuts abruptly to something else, exhibiting both grace and clumsiness at the same time. This film's an odd bird, but being odd also means being different

The dvd presents both films in their original 2.35:1 anamorphic ratio and, if you click on "Start The Grindhouse Experience" precedes The Bodyguard with two trailers: Ninja Wars (featuring one heck of a decapitation) and Burnout (taking you to the most famous drag strips in America).

For more information about The Bodyguard, visit BCI/Eclipse. To order The Bodyguard, go to TCM Shopping.



by Pablo Kjolseth
The Bodyguard/sister Street Fighter - Sonny Chiba In The Bodyguard - The Headliner In A Grindhouse Double Feature

The Bodyguard/Sister Street Fighter - Sonny Chiba in THE BODYGUARD - The Headliner in a Grindhouse Double Feature

The Bodyguard (aka: Karate Kiba / Viva Chiba the Bodyguard, 1976) comes packaged as a Sonny Chiba double-feature alongside Sister Street Fighter (aka; Onna hissatsu ken, 1974). This dvd is part of the "Welcome to the Grindhouse Double Feature" series launched by BCI's Deimos Entertainment on July 3rd to showcase the original exploitation films that inspired the Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriquez Grindhouse (2007) release. The Bodyguard's influence on Tarantino is apparent from the very shot: text scrolls up the screen allowing the audience to read a cribbing of Ezekiel 25:17. The text is inescapable even for those who don't like to read, thanks to a narration that has all the subtlety of a ranting lunatic heralding the apocalypse - and it obviously made an impression on Tarantino who later worked it into Samuel L. Jackson's memorable dialogue at the end of Pulp Fiction (1994). The Bodyguard begins with shots of New York City, settling in on a church as a family leaves service only to be mowed down by a band of Asian thugs with machine guns. Newspaper headlines announce the death of a drug-running Mafioso. Cut to: a blood-spattered "Rippon-American Production Presents" title-card, followed by martial arts action over which we see the words "VIVA CHIBA!" appear in red, followed by The Bodyguard title in a glorious, yellow, twisty seventies fat-font. As the credits continue over the scene of martial arts practitioners doing their thing in a forest, the sound of a crowd chanting Chiba's name over-and-over is briefly heard. Welcome to the Grindhouse indeed! The zany opening continues with eerie music and then we cut to the seedy sidewalks of NYC (and past a film marquee advertising a Cantinflas show, Mexico's version of Charlie Chaplin). Then: up a flight of stairs to visit the office of the New York Karate Academy where two Karate studs make mince meat of other students and then discuss the difference between Sonny Chiba and Bruce Lee. (This prologue "allowed Aquarius to play up the presence of martial arts champs Aaron Banks and Bill Louie on the poster," as noted by Hong Kong Digital). It's a scene that ends when one asks the other where Sonny Chiba is now, and the answer, "He's on his way back to Tokyo... running down some drugs." That's the only segue needed to put us on a plane with shifty-eyed gunmen looking for Chiba - who they do find, much to their misfortune. Chiba lands and is greeted at a press conference where he announces his intention of smashing the narcotics ring that is plaguing both Japan and the US. He does this by slicing the top off of a coke bottle with his bare hands and then announcing, on TV, that he'll provide his services as a bodyguard to anybody who has working knowledge of the narcotics gang. Chiba, always dressed in a snappy suit and tie, is then visited by a mysterious woman who takes him up on his offer. This setup momentarily evokes Sam Spade, but such nostalgic trappings are quickly dispelled when we see nudity, two assassins cutting their way out of a couch (!), graphic dismemberments, sexually explicit dialogue, and much more. As Chiba himself says, as he picks up the detached arm of an assailant from the floor, "This sure as hell was a bloody show. We shoulda sold tickets, huh?" Critics who put a high premium on cogent narratives, or even just martial-arts enthusiasts hoping for more gymnastics and less fire-power, are quick to label this an effort that will only appeal to "Chiba completists." But there is also some rough-and-tumble charm in the various sleazy settings and colorful fashion statements coming out of the early seventies, not to mention some dynamic angles and edits that invigorate the proceedings with a kinetic energy that still feels fresh today. There is, for example, a two-minute-long scene with an axe-wielding thug and his buddies that feels almost Godardian. It kicks off with the line: "I know you. Always with the dope and women." A jazzy score is introduced as the scene builds up a tempo. And then in mid-riff it cuts abruptly to something else, exhibiting both grace and clumsiness at the same time. This film's an odd bird, but being odd also means being different The dvd presents both films in their original 2.35:1 anamorphic ratio and, if you click on "Start The Grindhouse Experience" precedes The Bodyguard with two trailers: Ninja Wars (featuring one heck of a decapitation) and Burnout (taking you to the most famous drag strips in America). For more information about The Bodyguard, visit BCI/Eclipse. To order The Bodyguard, go to TCM Shopping. by Pablo Kjolseth

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1976

Released in United States 1976