I caught this film on digital cable, and as someone who has strong interest in martial arts(especially Martial Arts Competitions) I found this documentary to be highly informative and reasonably entertaining. Essentially it is about a major international Karate tournament that occurred in Japan in mid 70's, but with most of the focus being directed toward 3 African Americans who qualified for and were favored to make a big impact on the Tournament and the international Karate world. This film profiles these three men extensively with interviews and filmed bits of their training as well as their private lives. The film also gives slightly less focus towards some of the other big names from Japan and the world Karate/Martial Arts scene who also participated in this tournament as well. Then of course the film goes on to show a good amount of filmed footage from the tournament itself, showing some of the many breaking and other demonstrations, as well as a good amount of the matches that took place. In addition to all of these things, there are some bits about the history and culture of Karate as well as some similar albeit much briefer treatments for some of the other styles of predominately stand-up fighting(Chinese Kung Fu, Muay Tai, Singaporean Martial Arts) that were represented in this particular tournament. All in all, its a pretty straight forward account of all these things.
I think the film is pretty good for what its trying to be, but if I had to nitpick the biggest flaw here is production value. By today's standards the camera work, and film quality are pretty bad at times. Especially in the actual Tournament fight scenes where the picture is often just a little blurry, and it is clear that they didn't have access to a whole lot of cameras as there not that many different camera angles. In fact, much of the fights are seen in mostly wide-shots. Also some will find the narrator annoying. As in most documentaries, Narration underscores the whole the film, and the Narrator here is very much in that old 70's era style. In fact, he sounds suspiciously like the same guy who narrated all those old film strips in my high school biology class. Personally, I enjoyed the sense of nostalgia his voice-over work provoked but I think some might find it to be a little cheesy. Also bringing up the cheese factor here is the soundtrack. I won't go into too much detail, but lets just say its very 70's. In fact, when you put all of these things together you get down to the fact that this is just a low budget 70's film, and if you can get past that, than none of these things mentioned above should be too much of a problem.
Overall, I feel that if you are martial artist(I'm not BTW) or are interested in martial arts, you should watch this. Its an interesting look at the state of martial arts and martial artists of the day. Yes Karate is the focus, and as another user commented their is definitely a bias towards karate present here, but this is more a product of the time in which this was filmed, when Karate was the most accessible martial art form to study and learn in outside of Asia. As far as the action goes, don't expect a lot of flashy moves(well maybe some). This is straight up full-contact-tournament-style-Karate. The film does highlight the danger of a full contact martial arts event, and many matches shown end due to injuries. However, there is nothing here that I would consider graphic in terms of violence. For those looking for flash, I will say that some of the breaking and other demonstrations are pretty fun to watch.
All in all, I enjoyed this film, and if you are interested in real martial arts, then I think that you will too. Check it out.