Monday, March 11, 2024

One Percent Warrior, Starring Tak Sakaguchi

Do not call Toshiro Takuma “Jackie,” like some of these Yakuza do. He prefers ‘Bruce,” in honor of the Master (who stayed true to Hong Kong). Realism is important to Takuma. That is why he is only now working on his second film. Due to twist of fate, Takuma happens to be scouting a remote location where two rivals Yakuza clans happen to be fighting over a hidden cache of cocaine. Of course, Takuma is way too much for either of them to handle in Yudai Yamaguchi’s One Percent Warrior, which releases tomorrow on BluRay.

Takuma’s skills are so legit, real-life martial arts schools would gladly hire him. (Only one percent of martial artists truly master their discipline, he sneers.) However, his commitment to authenticity is largely lost on the film industry. His first film has become a cult hit, but producers prefer flash and sizzle over his guts and grit. When a possible funding opportunity arises, Takuma heads out on a scouting mission with Akira, his last remaining apprentice.

Instead, the ruthless Takenouchi dragged Maria, the daughter of a recently deceased Yakuza chairman, to the deserted zinc factory, in search of his cocaine stash. Of course, Takuma quickly rescues Maria, leaving her in Akira’s care, as he picks off Takenouchi’s henchmen one by one. Soon, a rival faction led by Shishidou also barges in. They share Takenouchi’s determination to recover the old man’s drugs, but Shishidou’s daughter Ami also seems to have an unhealthy interest in Maria as well.

Of course, the premise hardly matters.
One Percent Warrior is all about Takuma mowing down bad guys. It is a perfect showcase for Tak Sakaguchi, who has become an elite cult action star very much like Takuma in films like Crazy Samurai Musashi and Bad City. Kensuke Sonomura’s action direction brings out the best in Sakaguchi and his worthy nemesis, Ami’s so-called “sensei,” portrayed by jeet Kune Do master, Togo Ishii.

Weirdly, Yamaguchi’s screenplay culminates with not just one, but two disappointing cliches. It hardly matters though, because the whole point is watching Sakaguchi kicking butt. There is plenty of that and Yamaguchi understands how best to present it. Very highly recommended for martial arts fans,
One Percent Warrior releases tomorrow (3/12) on BluRay.