J. Lee Thompson is a filmmaker with a unique filmography spread out over his nearly 40 year career. In the 60’s he directed films like The Guns of Navarone and the original Cape Fear. In the early 70’s he helmed the last two Planet of the Apes films. Then in the latter part of the decade he teamed up with Charles Bronson. Nine of Thompson’s last fifteen directorial efforts would star the leathery-faced actor. Today we look at their final team-up, 1989’s Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects.
Bronson plays Lt Crowe, an LAPD detective who is on the trail of a pimp called Duke (Juan Fernandez). This guy has a thing for selling underage girls into prostitution. As I’m sure you can imagine, Chucky boy has no patience for that. In fact, the opening scene of the film sees him rescuing a young girl (played by Charles in Charge and Baywatch star Nicole Eggert) from a rendezvous with a scumbag in a hotel. It doesn’t end well for the scumbag.
Meanwhile, the film also follows a Japanese businessman in Tokyo, Hiroshi Hada (James Pax), who is about to be transferred to Los Angeles. This guy is a bit of a scumbag himself as he likes to reach up ladies’ skirts while riding on the Tokyo subway. Once this guy arrives in LA, he makes the mistake of trying the same trick on a teenage girl while riding a bus. The girl just so happens to be Crowe’s daughter. Mistake!
Shortly thereafter, Hada’s daughter, Fumiko, is kidnapped by Duke’s men and sent into the world of child prostitution. Crowe gets put on the case, not knowing that the girl’s father is the guy who gropped his daughter. All he knows is that some Japanese guy was running his hand up his daughter’s leg, which has led to him having some racist outbursts at times. Of course, he still does his job, which leads to some Bronson-style justice being dished out on Duke and his gang.
Now, I was expecting a typical Charles Bronson action flick with this one. There are several moments that are just oh-so-Bronson. Remember that opening scene I mentioned with Nicole Eggert? Well, it ends with Bronson about to teach the john a lesson, for which he picks up the large rubber phallus the guy had in his briefcase. The camera then cuts away abruptly and we hear the guy’s muffled screams in the distance. That’s just the start, folks. A bit later there is a sequence where Crowe confronts Duke and forces the pimp to swallow his own diamond-studded gold watch. “You’re gonna have to stick your head between your legs to tell time.” Scenes like this are so ridiculous, but they are part of what makes an 80’s era Bronson flick entertaining on a certain level.
What I didn’t expect was how dark and disturbing this film is at times. I mean, at the center of this film’s story is a child prostitution ring, and this film does not pull its punches. When the young Japanese girl is kidnapped she is thrown into a hotel room, then Duke and his men take turns going in. Thankfully we don’t see anything graphic, but we know darn well what’s going on. In the interest of not letting loose with too many spoilers I won’t go into more…but things do get darker as the film progresses. I gotta admit, it becomes harder to appreciate shoot-em-ups, explosions, or Bronson making a guy eat a watch when the film also goes to such nasty places.
As unpleasant as much of the film is, though, the scenes of Bronson being Bronson are still a treat. His 80’s films with Cannon, several of which were directed by Thompson, represent a crazy part of the veteran actor’s career. They are not necessarily quality films, but are often entertaining. I was certainly entertained by Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects, but felt a bit icky when all was said and done.