“KATANA” is a martial arts web series that premiered January 7th, 2009, on Strike.TV, an internet network created by Hollywood writers during the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike. It is the first ever martial-arts based internet television series by Hollywood professionals to debut on the internet.
In the pilot episode, John Koyama (The Last Samurai) plays Toshiro Sato, a former Ninja forced out of retirement to do the evil bidding of his older brother Kenji, played by action legend Yuji Okumoto (Karate Kid 2, Johnny Tsunami). “KATANA” is also Yuji Okumoto’s producing and writing debut.
Shot in Seattle, the series pilot stars a host of top A-list stunt and action talent from Hollywood to Hong Kong, including Thai action star Don Tai (Rush Hour 3, Fast & Furious), Al Goto (Letters From Iwo Jima, We Were Soldiers), and Sam Looc (Mask of the Ninja, Tropic Thunder).
- Toshiro is a retired ninja in hiding. What is his expert disguise? Why, a black-clad martial arts instructor, of course.
- Ninja Toshiro clenches his jaw with every practice stroke. Perhaps he has never used a weapon before?
- As the fight scene shows, all ninjas specialize in sport fighting techniques.
- Maybe it isn’t the size that counts, but how you use it? No offense, but Kenji’s heirloom katana looks more like a wakizashi to me.
- Finally, the master ninja loses a quick-draw contest…to a pistol-toting suit. This is mainly because he swung his sword around in the wrong direction.
Tighten up the writing and the fighting, and KATANA could be a hit. But if they keep on like this, I predict the show will end in ignominy–like an unnamed American executive.