Black Eagle: Special Edition
review by Bobby Blakey
I have been a massive Jean Claude Van Damme fan since seeing him on the big screen in Bloodsport and even No Retreat No Surrender before that and not know who he was. Before Van Damme and still to this day I was obsessed with martial arts icon Sho Kosugi and all of his ninja films. When the 1988 film Black Eagle came along featuring them together I was in heaven. Now MVD is bringing the Eric Karson directed martial arts classic to Blu-ray for the first time.
Black Eagle follows Ken Tami, the CIAs best secret agent who must track a laser guidance system after the US Air Force's most modern tactical aircraft, an F-111, crashes into the sea near Malta - a region where the Soviet forces are highly present. Along the way Tami will have to protect his sons, save the system and take on the tough KGB agent Andrei in a fight to the death. Of all the films either of them have done this is my least favorite, but still one I love just to see them on screen together. The story is pretty much like every action film of the 80s, but with Kosugi one of the few that were not focused as much on his ninja persona. As with all of his films both Kane and Shane Kosugi are here, but not given as much to do which is expected given the nature of the story.
Despite the flaws in some of the performances you can always count on Kosugi to bring his charisma and charm to the role and he does here as well. Seeing the young Van Damme in one of his big screen debuts you can see star all over him. He brings that something special to not only his high flying kicks, but his mannerisms and overall persona as well. These are two leads who urge to fight each other physically in the story, but for who is actually the lead with it clearly being Kosugi. These the reasons they were both so successful in the industry and both have become martial arts action icons today.
This film doesn’t have the usual Kosugi ninja action, but still manages to bring aspects to it that will no doubt keep fans happy. The big selling point for the whole things is obviously the fights between Kosugi and Van Damme. There are actually three with a quick one early on, a little longer face off before the great finale between the two icons. This is far from a great movie, but instead vintage 80s action featuring two legends that make ti all worth it from beginning to end. I never liked how Van Damme went out in this film as I would have preferred to see them go all in.
In addition to the film this first time Blu-ray release also includes some great bonus content including a making of featurette, a conversation with Sho Kosugi about his career and a series of discussions of the cast all talking about working with JCVD for the first time in his career.
For more information or to buy a copy of Black Eagle as well as other Sho Kosugi films including Rage and Honor and Pray for Death head over to https://mvdshop.com/