Having seen the upgraded Captain Action Green Hornet figure in the previous post, let's now turn our attention to The Green Hornet's sidekick Kato! Kato is Britt Reid's valet, who doubled as The Green Hornet's unnamed, masked driver and sidekick to help him in his vigilante adventures, disguised as the activities of a racketeer and his chauffeur / bodyguard / enforcer / friend and partner. Kato gets to drive and operate the gadgets hidden inside The Black Beauty, kick ass and beat up bad guys. Guess who's the one having all the FUN?
Kato is a skilled driver, mechanic and fighter in all versions of the story, with the creations of both the special automobile, the Black Beauty, and the Hornet's trademark sleeping gas and the gun that delivered it attributed to him. In the television series he also became an expert in martial arts, which was implied in the first film serial with his use of a tranquilizing "chop" to the back of a thug's neck. [source: wiki]
It was due in part to Bruce Lee's portrayal of this character that martial arts became popular in the United States in the 1960s. In this version, he also used green sleeve darts as a ranged attack for situations in which hand-to-hand combat was either impossible or too risky.
It is Bruce Lee's version of Kato that I'm most familiar with. The Green Hornet's success in Hong Kong, where it was popularly known as The Kato Show, led to Bruce Lee starring in the feature films that would make him a pop culture icon.
This is the 1:6 scale Captain Action Kato boxed set outfit / costume and accessories on a Dragon Models DML 12-inch figure with Asian head sculpt. Kato comes with his Hornet Sting darts (three darts), nunchaku, shuriken, kusari-fundo, shuko hand claw, knuckleduster and micro-radar watch. You can see the original Captain Action as Kato figure HERE
There have been many releases of a 12-inch Kato figure. Medicom Toys released one, Enterbay released one and another that was in part a tribute to Bruce Lee as Kato. In the film "Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen", released late September in Asia and early 2011 in the United States, there is a feature of the Green Hornet. The subplot consist of the main character Chen Zhen (played by Donnie Yen) dressing up as a mask vigilante (based on Kato) to stop Japanese assassinations and to protect the people. The director has mentioned that since both Chen Zhen and Kato were played by Bruce Lee, the film was a tribute and dedication to Bruce Lee.
A 1994 Hong Kong film, "Qing Feng Xia", starred Kar Lok Chin as a Kato-like masked hero called the Green Hornet (in English subtitles). In one scene, he is reminded of his predecessors, one of whom is represented by a picture of Bruce Lee in his TV Kato costume.
"Black Mask" is a 1996 Hong Kong action film starring Jet Li. In the film, in homage to The Green Hornet, Black Mask wears a domino mask and chauffeur's cap in the same style as Kato from the series. The Black Mask is even compared to Kato in a news reporter scene.
In "Kill Bill (2003)", The Bride (Uma Thurman) engages an army of henchmen called "the Crazy 88" who all wore Kato masks in a lengthy fight, killing or seriously wounding all of them except one. The yellow tracksuit that Uma Thurman dons is also a tribute to cultural icon and martial artist, Bruce Lee.
Although there were so many Kato 12-inch figures produced, only Praying Mantis released a 1:6 scale Kato and The Green Hornet as a pair (see the original pairing HERE)
And it took me this long to finally put together my take and upgraded version of the Captain Action Green Hornet and Kato 12-inch figures. I was in part motivated by the lack of 1:6 scale figures available for the current release of The Green Hornet film starring Seth Rogen as Britt Reid / The Green Hornet and Jay Chou as Kato.
See my take of the upgraded pair of Captain Action's The Green Hornet and Kato figures HERE