Directed in 1981 by Ivan Hall, how just a few years before had cast leading man James Ryan in his 1976 picture Karate Killer (also known as Kill Or Be Killed), Kill And Kill Again sees Ryan this time around playing a man named Steve Chase. He's the best of the best, the finest martial arts expert in the land and his abilities are known far and wide - so when Dr. Horatio Kane (John Ramsbottom) is kidnapped by a super villain named Marduk (Michael Mayer) and his daughter, Kandy Kane (Anneline Kriel - who won the Miss World pageant in 1974), wants him back, who does she turn to? Chase, of course.
There's more to this quest than just heading into Marduk's lair, saving Kane and busting a few heads though - see, Marduk has gotten his greedy hands on a serum that has turned oodles and oodles of innocent townspeople into deadly kung fu warriors, all under his control who he intends to use to take over the world! Chase enlists the aid of a few of his highly skilled martial arts pals - The Fly (Stan Schmidt), Gypsy Billy (Norman Robinson), Gorilla (Ken Gampu) and Hot Dog (Bill Flynn) - and, with Kandy's help, he makes his way towards the location where Dr. Kane is being held. It won't be easy though, as along the way he'll encounter giant rednecks who want to fight him, guys with parachutes and lots of other tough guys who will do whatever they can to ensure he leaves Marduk and Dr. Kane alone!
Kill And Kill Again is the type of movie that knows exactly what it wants to do, and that's to keep the audience entertained. If that requires characters with pink hair and a hero who can levitate, then so be it but the film succeeds on that level. Yes, it's ridiculous and yes, there are plenty of times where the movie defies logic or common sense but there's such an element of 'going for it' that you can't help but have a good time here. The script from screenwriter John Crowthar has a great rhythm to it which, thanks to Hall's solid direction, keeps the movie moving quickly and ensures that it's never dull (you can say a lot of things about this movie but you can't say it's boring) and the action scenes are handled quite well. In addition to Ryan, many of the other supporting players came from martial arts backgrounds and it shows in the fight choreography and hand to hand combat scenes, making the movie all the better for their participation.
James Ryan makes for a pretty solid leading man here. His shirt comes off a lot, often for now reason other than to flaunt the fact that he's in much better shape than pretty much anyone else on the planet, but he's likeable enough to carry the film. He seems confident in front of the camera and has a lot of great (and surprisingly agile) acrobatic moves on hand to keep the fight scenes very animated. He gives his character enough personality to make it work and his interactions with the four karate pals and especially with the lovely (though horribly named) Kandy Kane turn out to be a lot of fun. As for Anneline Kriel's acting skills, she's nothing to write home about in that department but once you get a good look at her all questions as to the validity of her casting are set aside (those who keep track of such things might be interested in knowing that she appeared in the South African edition of Playboy in 1994).
Also worth mentioning is Michael Mayer as the sinster Marduk. Obviously inspired by the most over the top of the James Bond villains, he looks insanely resplendent in his fake beard and colorful costumes. He hangs out with a foxy punk chick for some reason (though really, do you need a reason for foxy punk chicks? Let's be honest here...) who has a lot of horrible dialogue that just adds to the madness of it all. Yes, the movie very obviously borrows from both Enter The Dragon and The Seven Samurai but it has enough of its own inspired lunacy going for it that, as horrible as it all is, you can't help but not only watch, but really enjoy this one.
Kill And Kill Again looks really good on DVD from Scorpion Releasing presented here in 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen in a transfer taken from elements that were obviously in excellent shape. Color reproduction is impressive here as is detail for a standard definition offering. Skin tones look nice and realistic and there are no issues with compression artifacts. Some minor grain is present, as it should be, but there are no issues with any serious, heavy print damage. While it's eighties roots are obvious, the film looks excellent here.
The only audio option on the disc is a Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track in the film's original English language, no alternate language options or subtitles are provided. The levels are properly balanced, the audio is clean and there are no problems with hiss or distortion to note.
The main extras on the disc are a pair of interviews, the first of which was conducted with star James Ryan over the phone and plays over the first forty or so minutes of the feature itself. Here Ryan talks about his work in the South African film industry, how the rise of Bruce Lee to international superstardom landed him working in martial arts pictures and what it was like working with the cast and crew of Kill And Kill Again. He comes across as a pretty nice guy and has some interesting stories to tell about the various co-stars and collaborators he worked with over the years. The second interview is an on camera piece done with John Crowthar, the man who wrote the film. He talks for just under twenty-four minutes about how he started writing for the stage and then moved on to novels and then screenplays. He covers screen credits and how they're decided upon, working in Italy for a spell and his feelings on the importance of character development, or lack thereof, in films like this. From here he talks about where some of the ideas for this picture came from and then she shares some interesting stories about other films he was involved with, The Evil That Men Do starring Charles Bronson being a great one.
Rounding out the extras are a trailer for the feature, an isolated score option, trailers for a few other Scorpion Releasing properties, menus and chapter stops.
Kill And Kill Again is as ridiculous as it is fun. Is it the greatest martial arts movie ever made? Hell no, but it's fast paced, crazy colorful and full of awesomely awful characters and plenty of face kicking action. Scorpion's DVD release looks great and has some cool extras that shed some welcome light on the film's background and the backgrounds of those who made it and as such, it comes recommended for fans of B-grade action and exploitation pictures.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.