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The Challenge | Blu-ray Review

John Frankenheimer ended a three year hiatus following his 1979 environmental horror/creature feature Prophecy with a commendable martial-arts effort, The Challenge (1982). Starring Scott Glenn in his first lead performance, the curiosity was co-written by John Sayles and also stars Japanese legend Toshiro Mifune (who had previously appeared in Frankenheimer’s 1966 film, Grand Prix). Though it ultimately proves to be a nonsensical narrative in its clash of East meets West and traditional values threatened by the consumer cravings of the modernized world, some fantastic fight sequences (a pre-fame Steven Seagal served as technical advisor) and superb lensing from famed cinematographer Kozo Okazaki mark the title as worthy of recuperation for its conglomeration of vintage components.

In 1982 Los Angeles, a down and out boxer, Rick Murphy (Glenn) is approached to transport a sacred sword to Kyoto in order to restore it to its rightful owner, a master samurai, Toru Yoshida (Mifune). Apparently,

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