Kill or Be Killed (1980 film)

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Kill or Be Killed
Kill or Be Killed (1980) film poster.jpg
Theatrical Poster designed by Design Projects, Inc.
Directed by Ivan Hall
Produced by Ben Vlok
Written by C.F. Beyers-Boshoff
Starring James Ryan
Norman Coombes
Charlotte Michelle
Danie DuPlessis
Ed Kannemeyer
Cinematography Manie Botha
Edited by Hillary Malebysse-Smith
Brian Varaday
Distributed by Film Ventures International
Release date
  • 1980 (1980)
Running time
90 minutes
Country South Africa
United States
Language English

Kill or Be Killed is a martial arts movie that was made in South Africa in 1977 and was titled Karate Olympiad, but released in 1980 to capitalize on the popularity of American martial arts films.[1]


A famous martial artist, Steve Chase (James Ryan), travels to the desert for what he thinks is an Olympic-style competition. The competition turns out to be a trap set by Baron von Rudloff (Norman Coombes), an ex-Nazi General who is still bitter over the humiliating defeat of his martial arts team at the 1936 Summer Olympics by Japanese martial artist Miyagi (Raymond Ho-Tong). Steve wants to escape when his girlfriend and fellow karateka, Olga (Charlotte Michelle), is deemed unsuitable to continue as part of von Rudloff's team. When Steve and Olga make their escape, von Rudloff sends his sympathetic dwarf henchman Chico (Danie DuPlessis) to travel around the world to recruit the best fighters for his team.

In an attempt to get Steve back on his team, von Rudloff sends one of his top fighters, Ruell (Ed Kannemeyer) to kidnap Olga. Steve decides to return but as a member of Miyagi's team. When the tournament begins, Steve finds himself at constant odds with von Rudloff. When von Rudloff forces Steve to face Olga, a plan is set up for the couple to escape. However, Steve and Olga find themselves kidnapped along with nearly all of the karate fighters with the exception of Luke (Douglas Baggott), a monster fighter on von Rudloff's team. Von Rudloff also learns that his henchman Chico was responsible for helping Steve and Olga. When the fighters make their break out of von Rudloff's castle, Steve takes on Luke in the middle of the desert and after defeating him, von Rudloff finds a gun on the ground and knowing that he cannot ever accept defeat, he takes his own life.

Japanese karate[edit]

The fighting style in the film is a showcase of the pure style of Japanese karate, courtesy of the Japan Karate Association (South Africa). Shihans Stan Schmidt and Norman Robinson choreographed the film's karate sequences as well as appear in the film as two members of von Rudloff's karate team.


The film is also known as Karate Killer and Karate Olympia. The film was so popular in the United States that Film Ventures International greenlit a sequel, Kill and Kill Again, starring James Ryan as martial arts champion Steve Chase, in 1981. Like its predecessor, the film's extras were real karateka from the Japan Karate Association (South Africa) with Stan Schmidt and Norman Robinson returning as karate choreographers and co-starring as two of Steve's friends.


External links[edit]