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‘Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects’ (R)

By Richard Harrington
Washington Post Staff Writer
March 06, 1989

"Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects" could be the worst Charles Bronson film ever, and that's saying something. If it were any slower, it would be running backward.

I'm still not sure what "Kinjite" is, but I suspect it's something like Demerol. For balance, director J. Lee Thompson seems to have overdosed on lecithin, because somewhere in his mind, probably at the back, he obviously had delusions of "The Bridge of San Luis Rey" (though Thompson is the type who would blow it up rather than let it fall). There are several plot threads weaving their way through "Kinjite," and eventually they commingle: In Japan, a repressed businessman is having pornographic fantasies; in Los Angeles, a weary cop (Bronson, of course) is fixated on a pimp who recruits adolescent hookers and drug addicts "no older than my own daughter"; the pimp is on the prowl, looking for new bait. When the Japanese businessman moves to Los Angeles -- with a family that includes a teen-age daughter -- all the pieces are in place. All they need is glue.

Unfortunately, Bronson's not it. Looking evermore like Mr. Potato Head with a mustache, Bronson seldom acts these days; he simply endures, sleeptalking through his lines. Of course, there's hardly enough action to wake him up -- a little fisticuffs here, the occasional cuss word, seething anger and a dopey finale. What there is plenty of is subtle and less-than-subtle Japan-bashing, expressed through Bronson's Neanderthal attitudes. Blacks, Hispanics and white women don't fare well, particularly Juan Fernandez, who was genuinely scary as the fascist colonel in "Salvador" and has been running the pimp-gangster cliche' into the ground ever since.

On the plus side, there's a delightful scene in which Bronson must ponder a haiku for clues, and Thompson and writer Harold Nebenzal are probably convinced they've caught a little of the East/West cultural dichotomy. They haven't. "Kinjite" is rated R, but it plays zzzzzzzz ...

"Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects" contains some nudity and violence.

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