The Challenge (1982)

R | 106 mins | Adventure | 23 July 1982

Director:

John Frankenheimer

Cinematographer:

Kozo Okazaki

Editor:

John W. Wheeler

Production Designer:

Yoshiyuki Ishida

Production Company:

CBS Theatrical Films
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HISTORY

       While a 16 Oct 1981 HR advertisement and various contemporary sources, including the 4 Dec 1981 and 8 Dec 1981 DV referred to the film by its working title, The Equals, a 28 Dec 1981 HR news item published later that month noted the title change to The Challenge.
       Production notes found in AMPAS library files indicated that Shogo Shimada’s character, “Father of Yoshida,” was originally named “Takeshi.” The official plot summary also suggested that the main action of the film took place in 1981, as opposed to 1982, as stated onscreen in the final film.
       An Embassy Pictures press release stated that actor Scott Glenn studied Aikido for six weeks in order to prepare for the role. Donna Kei Benz was selected among 114 other actresses who auditioned for “Akiko” to make her feature film debut. According to production notes, filming took place on location in Japan at the Shōkoku-ji Temple, Osaka International Airport and Kyoto, and later in Los Angeles, CA.
       On 28 Dec 1981, HR stated that the title had been changed to The Challenge, was scheduled to screen at the Manila International Film Festival on 25 Jan 1982 before being released in the U.S. in spring 1982. A news item in the 19 May 1982 DV reported that Embassy Pictures had acquired domestic distribution rights.
       The Challenge opened in New York City on 23 Jul 1982 and in Los Angeles on 3 Sep 1982, to mixed reviews.
      End credits include thanks from producers to Mifune Productions and the Kyoto International Convention Center. ... More Less

       While a 16 Oct 1981 HR advertisement and various contemporary sources, including the 4 Dec 1981 and 8 Dec 1981 DV referred to the film by its working title, The Equals, a 28 Dec 1981 HR news item published later that month noted the title change to The Challenge.
       Production notes found in AMPAS library files indicated that Shogo Shimada’s character, “Father of Yoshida,” was originally named “Takeshi.” The official plot summary also suggested that the main action of the film took place in 1981, as opposed to 1982, as stated onscreen in the final film.
       An Embassy Pictures press release stated that actor Scott Glenn studied Aikido for six weeks in order to prepare for the role. Donna Kei Benz was selected among 114 other actresses who auditioned for “Akiko” to make her feature film debut. According to production notes, filming took place on location in Japan at the Shōkoku-ji Temple, Osaka International Airport and Kyoto, and later in Los Angeles, CA.
       On 28 Dec 1981, HR stated that the title had been changed to The Challenge, was scheduled to screen at the Manila International Film Festival on 25 Jan 1982 before being released in the U.S. in spring 1982. A news item in the 19 May 1982 DV reported that Embassy Pictures had acquired domestic distribution rights.
       The Challenge opened in New York City on 23 Jul 1982 and in Los Angeles on 3 Sep 1982, to mixed reviews.
      End credits include thanks from producers to Mifune Productions and the Kyoto International Convention Center.
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
4 Dec 1981.
---
Daily Variety
8 Dec 1981.
---
Daily Variety
19 May 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Oct 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Dec 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Sep 1982
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
3 Sep 1982
p. 15.
New York Times
23 Jul 1982
p. 8.
Variety
27 Jan 1982
p. 15.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
a John Frankenheimer film
a Pencher-Rosen-Beckman production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr, U.S.A.
Unit prod mgr, Japanese
1st asst dir
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
Key grip
Still photog
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
COSTUMES
Ward des
Men`s cost
Women`s cost
MUSIC
Mus ed
SOUND
Post prod sd by
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd mixer
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Looping ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Main titles/Spec vis eff by
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting, U.S.A.
Casting, Japan
Asst to Mr. Frankenheimer
Prod advisor
Scr supv
Unit pub
Loc auditor
Loc mgr
STAND INS
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Sword & stunt coord
Martial arts coord
Asst stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Equals
Release Date:
23 July 1982
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 23 July 1982
Los Angeles opening: 3 September 1982
Copyright Claimant:
CBS, Inc.
Copyright Date:
29 November 1982
Copyright Number:
PA155919
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex Camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
106
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
Japan, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
26362
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

During a ceremony in Kyoto, Japan, in 1945, a young boy, Toshio Yoshida, approaches his grandfather, who presents the child with two katana swords called “The Equals.” Suddenly, a man from the back of the crowd grabs one of the swords, unsheathes it, and slashes the boy across the back, damaging his spine. In 1982 Los Angeles, California, Toshio, now confined to a wheelchair, watches two boxers fight in a gymnasium ring. American Rick Murphy is fired after knocking his Japanese opponent down. Toshio and his sister Akiko visit Rick at his apartment and offer to pay him $500 per day to help return their father’s sword to Japan. When Toshio explains the plan to fly to Osaka, Japan, before continuing to Kyoto, Rick agrees. Rick and Toshio arrive at the Osaka airport with the sword safely concealed in Rick’s golf bag. However, two men with guns force Rick into a car and threaten to kill him. They watch as Akiko helps Toshio board his accessible van and follow behind. While driving, Ando, the Japanese-American leader of the gang, inspects the sword and discovers that the weapon is counterfeit. The outlaws trap Toshio’s van in an alley, throw Rick inside, and hijack the vehicle. Akiko, however, runs away unnoticed. Ando explains that his boss, Toshio’s uncle, has spent nearly thirty-five years searching for the sword that Toshio claims belongs to his father. When Toshio reveals the sword arrived on a different flight, Ando opens the back hatch and pushes Toshio’s wheelchair out of the van and off the bridge. Ando takes Rick to see his boss, Hideo Yoshida, at his multimillion-dollar business complex. Hideo attempts to bribe Rick for ... +


During a ceremony in Kyoto, Japan, in 1945, a young boy, Toshio Yoshida, approaches his grandfather, who presents the child with two katana swords called “The Equals.” Suddenly, a man from the back of the crowd grabs one of the swords, unsheathes it, and slashes the boy across the back, damaging his spine. In 1982 Los Angeles, California, Toshio, now confined to a wheelchair, watches two boxers fight in a gymnasium ring. American Rick Murphy is fired after knocking his Japanese opponent down. Toshio and his sister Akiko visit Rick at his apartment and offer to pay him $500 per day to help return their father’s sword to Japan. When Toshio explains the plan to fly to Osaka, Japan, before continuing to Kyoto, Rick agrees. Rick and Toshio arrive at the Osaka airport with the sword safely concealed in Rick’s golf bag. However, two men with guns force Rick into a car and threaten to kill him. They watch as Akiko helps Toshio board his accessible van and follow behind. While driving, Ando, the Japanese-American leader of the gang, inspects the sword and discovers that the weapon is counterfeit. The outlaws trap Toshio’s van in an alley, throw Rick inside, and hijack the vehicle. Akiko, however, runs away unnoticed. Ando explains that his boss, Toshio’s uncle, has spent nearly thirty-five years searching for the sword that Toshio claims belongs to his father. When Toshio reveals the sword arrived on a different flight, Ando opens the back hatch and pushes Toshio’s wheelchair out of the van and off the bridge. Ando takes Rick to see his boss, Hideo Yoshida, at his multimillion-dollar business complex. Hideo attempts to bribe Rick for the sword’s whereabouts by claiming that the weapon was taken from him by a U.S. army sargeant in Okinawa, Japan, thirty-four years ago. Ando knocks Rick unconscious and transports him to a darkened alley, but Rick escapes by running through a busy fish market. As one of Ando’s men stabs Rick in the back, he stumbles into a train yard, where Akiko saves him. He awakens to find her dressing his wound in her father’s Kyoto home. While watching Akiko’s father, Sensei Yoshida, practice fighting in the yard, a man enters carrying Toshio’s wheelchair, which has the sword hidden inside the handlebars. Over Toshio’s ashes, Yoshida ceremoniously sheathes the missing sword and places it next to its partner. Rick, however, remains restless and demands to be paid for his services so he can return home. In the courtyard, Rick meets Jiro, a young boy who hopes to become a swordfighter. At dinner, Rick embarrasses himself by struggling to eat the live seafood dishes and becoming intoxicated on sake. The next morning, Rick fights a man named Kubo in order to win his passage home. He loses the match miserably, but Yoshida pays him $2,000 and allows him to leave anyway. Ando finds Rick at a bar and bribes him with $13,000 to go back to Yoshida, pretending that he wants to learn fighting so he can steal back the sword. Although Rick fails in his training with Toshida, he forms a strong attachment to Jiro. One night, Rick steals the sword and runs to deliver it to Ando. However, he quickly changes his mind and returns it to the compound. Yoshida greets him at the gate and says Rick must prove himself in order to earn forgiveness for his crime. Yoshida’s men bury Rick vertically in a hole, where he must stay without food or water as long as he can endure. After five days, Rick suffers hallucinations and the men finally dig him out. The sensei challenges his brother, Hideo, to a duel to the death, asking Rick to be one of his followers at the fight. When Hideo arrives with his henchmen, he refuses to fight and insists that Yoshida forfeit the sword or be killed. Rick puts a knife to Yoshida’s throat as if to betray Yoshida, but when Ando approaches, Rick stabs one of Hideo’s men. Rick and Sensei Yoshida escape from their enemies’ gunfire. That night, Akiko explains that when “The Equals” were passed down to her father in 1945, Hideo tried to steal the swords. In the process, he injured his nephew, Toshio, while one of Hideo’s soldiers shot her grandfather. She later tells Rick that her father, Yoshida, always wanted another son, and she suspects that he may pass the swords on to Rick. When one of Yoshida’s advisers betrays him, Hideo’s men sneak inside the compound and Jiro is badly injured in the scuffle. Convinced that the entire family is crazy, Rick leaves and checks into a hotel. Akiko visits asking Rick to return, and they make love. At a crowded parade, Rick is separated from Akiko and bumps into Ando, whose men have captured her. Rick goes to the compound to ask Yoshida for help. The sensei puts Jiro in charge of looking after the house while he and Rick sneak into Hideo’s facility. Once inside, Rick and Yoshida dodge gunfire and encounter Hideo in a hallway. While the two brothers fight with their katanas, Ando interrupts and shoots Yoshida in the shoulder. Infuriated, Hideo chops off Ando’s head. Rick picks up the sword and finishes Yoshida’s fight, accruing multiple wounds but eventually slicing Hideo’s head open. Victorious, he presents the sword to Yoshida and Akiko as dawn breaks over the mountains. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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