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Saturday, November 27, 2021


In my mother's TV room: my buddy Gazelli, after enduring the exceedingly disappointing Etsuko Shihomi flick, THE SECOND IS A CHRISTIAN (1985) with me. 

Etsuko Shihomi was the powerhouse karate badass who had supporting memorable roles in THE STREET FIGHTER and THE STREET FIGHTER'S LAST REVENGE (both 1974), and well-deserved starring roles in DRAGON PRINCESS (1976) and a trio of SISTER STREET FIGHTER movies (1974-1976), and those of us who enjoy sleazy, ultra-violent '70's Japanese karate actioners adored her in such fare. She was as much of a hardcore badass as any of the men she starred opposite — and when you can say that about someone who was a regular in Sonny Chiba bone-breakers, that's REALLY saying something — so why waste a performer of her shattering skills on a weaker-than-weak romantic comedy?

THE SECOND IS A CHRISTIAN seeks to lure in her fans with its promotional image's juxtaposition of Shiomi looking as fierce as ever while wielding a sword, only decked out in a nun's gear. The alleged comedy comes from her being the heir to a Yakuza family who got out of the life by finding religion, but considering who's playing the character, one could be forgiven for thinking that she would eventually bust out her legendary ass-kicking acumen. That doesn't happen until the ass end of the final reel, by which point we have endured tons or unfunny comedy and a romance plot that is completely un-involving, and when she does finally break out a sword, she pretty much fumbles her way through the encounters in which it is deployed. No skilled badass this time around, but instead a milquetoast in a habit.

Joe and I prefaced this with a screening of the vastly superior 13 STEPS OF MAKI: THE YOUNG ARISTOCRATS (1975), which is a fun (and virtually plotless) exercise in wall-to-wall karate/exploitation action set against an escalating war of asshole factions, and the comparison between the two Shihomi films could not be more drastic. Anyway, take my word for it and skip THE SECOND IS A CHRISTIAN, should it come your way.
Image from the film's DVD release. A major, major letdown from one of my favorite action stars.

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