"Karate is not to throw a punch or a kick, never attack, instead defend against an opponent's attack—parry and stave off the opponent. This way you can reach perfection"
— Sensei Shibahara
Kuro-Obi (Black Belt) is a 2007 martial arts film directed by Shunichi Nagasaki. The film is notable for starring two real-life masters of Karate: Tatsuya Naka, a 6th-dan in Shotokan style, and Akihito Yagi, a 5th-dan in Goju-Ryu style. No special effects or wires were used for the action scenes, only authentic karate awesomeness.
The story takes place in a fictional version of occupied Manchuria in 1932, where everyone speaks Japanese and karate dojos dot the landscape. The Japanese military police decides to take over one such dojo to use a training camp, and the karate students Taikan, Giryu, and Choei are forced to fight for the right to keep their school. The plot follows the three students as they each struggle to understand the true meaning of karate.
Kuro Obi Provides examples of:
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Taikan.
- Chekhov's Classroom: Taikan demonstrates an open-hand neck strike to his students, explaining how with proper technique, a single strike can kill. He later uses this exact technique on Commander Goda.
- Averted, in that the soldiers all believe their commander to be dead, but Taikan says he only knocked him out.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Taikan distributes these left and right, especially in the first 15 minutes of the movie.
- Deliberately Monochrome: The final fight scene between Taikan and Giryu.
- Finger Poke of Doom: Taikan takes Commander Goda hostage by threatening to do this. With his pinky, no less!
- Freudian Trio: Violent Taikan is the Id, traditional Giryu is the Superego, and third student Choei is the Ego. Bonus points for the scene where Choei actually holds Taikan back from a fight. And then Choei gets his arm crippled, upon which Taikan's violence gradually grows out of control and Choei disappears off a cliff and is thought lost. Symbolic, much?
- Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Commander Goda smokes while observing Taikan's karate class. Taikan does not approve, in his usual awesome manner.
- So Goda lights up a second cigarette. He is just that evil.
- Martial Pacifist: Giryu.
- Morality Pet: An interesting inversion. Giryu would have been content to live as a pacifist and never fight again, even allowing Hana to be taken away by gangsters without a fight, until Kenta proclaims his intent to go rescue her on his own.
- No One Could Survive That: A rather unconvincing version. Giryu gets stabbed in the gut, and falls out of frame. The camera pans 'very' slowly down to reveal the... somewhat steep hill that presumably claimed Giryu's life. Really, is anyone surprised to find out 5 minutes later that Giryu is still alive?
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Pretty much sums up the relationship between Taikan and Giryu. Taikan's is fierce, aggressive and openly questions and defies the teachings of their sensei. Giryu tries to follow their sensei's teachings to the letter, making him cautious and defensive to the point of allowing people to injure him just so he doesn't have to hit them back.
- Revenge Myopia: Tanihara's children challenge Giryu to a duel to the death so they can avenge the death of their father... whose life Giryu spared. It's not like Giryu asked their father to come insult their dojo, wound his friend, and try to cut his head off.
- Seppuku: The end of Captain Tanihara after his defeat by Giryu. Giryu does his best to avoid killing, chosing to damage the captain's arms to the point he can no longer wield his katana. A few days later, he finds out the captain decided he could not live with the shame of defeat and killed himself anyway. Poor Giryu just can't win...
- Take Up My Sword: A delayed version. On his deathbed, Sensei Shibahara bequeaths his black belt (the epinomous Kuro Obi) to Choei, who is tasked to decide which of the three students will inherit it and ownership of the dojo. Presumably, he always meant for it to go to Giryu, but he knew Giryu would need some time to find the backbone to defend himself from Taikan's inevitable challenge.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Giryu, taken to the extreme of "Thou Shalt Not Attack, Ever." Except when he does.
- You Killed My Father: Tanihara Jr. and Kaori, the children of Captain Tanihara.