SWORD OF HONOR is a cocktail of contemporary action-movie cliches: stereotypical Mafia hijinks, plus martial arts, plus an avenging cop, all spiced up with a hail of bullets. With its rather spartan production design and no-frills direction, SWORD OF HONOR is lucky to have magnetic Steven
Vincent Leigh zipping across the screen and displaying his considerable fighting skills.
During the heist of a fabled sword dating back to the Mongol Dynasty, police detective Johnny (Steven Vincent Leigh) loses his partner, Alan (Jeff Pruitt), who was about to quit the force. His superior officer (Mike Toney) removes Johnny from the case, and Johnny wants to know why. Is the Chief
worried that Johnny can't maintain his professional composure, or is he thwarting the investigation because he's on the take? Meanwhile, gangster Rudy Anthony (Jerry Tiffe) and his scheming, resentful capo Richard (Angelo Tiffe), who stole the valuable sword, run a scam in which they sell the
weapon to a Japanese high-roller, kill him and his bodyguard, and then negotiate a deal with another foreign-born mark.
Alan's sister Vicki (Sofia Crawford) wants to help find her brother's murderer. Johnny demands a ballistics test which could link Alan's murder with the Japanese slayings, but the Mob finds a way to discredit him. Vicki later follows Johnny into an ambush and takes a bullet with his name on it,
leaving Johnny to drowns his guilty sorrows in alcohol. Meanwhile, Rudy Anthony repeats his sword scam on some unsuspecting Russians.
Pulling himself together and eliciting help from fellow officers, Johnny infiltrates the mob's home base in time for Richard's coup d'etat. During the ensuing violence, Johnny avenges Alan's death by snatching the sword of honor, which then falls from mid-air and slices its way into Richard's
back. The sword is returned to the museum, and Vicki recovers to start a new life with Johnny.
Action takes precedence over narrative in SWORD OF HONOR, in which Steven Vincent Leigh must single-handedly kickbox the audience out of its plot cliche-induced torpor. While the script is generally listless, it's occasionally enlivened by the scam involving the repeated selling of the sword.
Although these devices aren't exactly Puzo-esque, they make wicked sport both of glasnost and of Rising Sun-style paranoia, as America's least-applauded entrepreneurs teach the foreign competition a deadly lesson in capitalist caveat emptor. (Graphic violence, extreme profanity, extensivenudity.)
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: R
- Review: SWORD OF HONOR is a cocktail of contemporary action-movie cliches: stereotypical Mafia hijinks, plus martial arts, plus an avenging cop, all spiced up with a hail of bullets. With its rather spartan production design and no-frills direction, SWORD OF HONOR… (more)