11.16.2014

Ninja Death (1987)

PLOT:  By day, Tiger is a Martial Arts expert…by night he is the bouncer of a brothel. Tiger is trained under the watchful eye of “Master” and in this process of training it occurs that the Grand Master and his merry men, AKA Ninjas, are trying to take over Tiger’s turf in Japan.

Director: Joseph Kuo
Cast: Lo You, Fei Meng


PLOT THICKENER: 
When it comes to story, Ninja Death is pretty damn jagged, and while you can fault it for the shoddy editing, it unapologetically turns into a comedy. As the film opens, we are treated to a group of ninjas fighting but there is something significant about this; it's as if the film is being fast forward on VHS...I got a little nostalgic, I will not lie. While some of the story is already tongue-in-cheek, it just goes all out, and for entertainment purposes you just accept it and ride it out. While the entire cast clearly tries to play this film straight and serious, so much is wrong technically but that is what makes it so funny to watch. To be honest, there isn’t much to do with ninjas, and I was deep down hoping for hundreds of ninjas just showing off their skills and bad acting. And while you do get to see some ninjas, it’s very short lived, but what they do have to offer will leave you content, not full. As the film progresses, we are exposed to random flashbacks which turn into really elaborate and strange sex scenes. I really do feel that the director lost faith in this piece and thought “Hrmm you know this film isn’t going where I want it to so here have a really long and awkward sex scene.” I was literally sitting there laughing because after several minutes there is only so much un-erotic sex scenes I could take seriously. I think I stopped taking those scenes seriously after 10 seconds…maximum. 

The plot itself doesn’t make a lot of sense, for the best of times, but the way I interpreted it was that Tiger was training in the ways of the Martial Arts while trying to prove his manhood on a nightly basis to the prostitutes he had to protect at the brothel. And then all of a sudden there’s several Ninjas that just happen to pop up and really not do much. Which left me wanting more. I found that once the momentum was finally up and running, it would all of a sudden just cut to another scene which completely left of field and left you thinking "What the hell?” In some ways, it did feel like two films were cut together at the best of times. 


The martial arts choreography did start off strong, which initially got me pumped, and yeah I fist pumped, don’t judge me. But you can’t help but get excited that at 2 minutes and 6 seconds, a guy has his eyes gouged out; how’s that for an opening? I think with a lot of the B-grade Asian cinema, you really can’t fault it for its choreography because a lot of these guys all worked together on a number of films. You can definitely see how the director, Joseph Kuo was influenced by the Shaw Bros, as a lot of the sets looked as if they were cast offs from Five Deadly Venoms, and as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But unless you have seen a lot of the Shaw Bros films, it may pass you by and go unnoticed. There was also a mini montage in this film, and straight away I could feel that locked door in my brain -- which consists of all of the movie montages I have seen -- was being unlocked. And that triggered something inside me which made me connect to the film just a little bit, because I felt you could see the side of montages we know and love in American Martial Arts films. 

You want dubbing? Oh, you will get dubbing with this, and it is so hilariously put together. If you listen carefully to the dubbing you will realise the accents change from American to English. Who am I kidding, it’s not exactly subtle. But it’s this kind of silliness in production which spills over into the film and it just creates a hilarious over-layer that you cannot help but thrive over…okay maybe that was just me?

VERDICT
So let's rewind! There's long, awkward sex scenes, fast-forwarding ninjas, eyes gouged out in the first scene, odd but hearty training montages, solid choreography, terrible editing and several stories rolled into one? I can see the effort that was put in for selected parts of the films and I can take that for what it is, because I thoroughly enjoy how bizarre this film is. Isn't that everything you need to enjoy a craptacular night in with your pals? Add a Cherry Coke in there and BAM! you are in for a good night in. 

AVAILABILITY
Amazon...and any bargain bin selling VHS leftover from 1987. 

4.5 / 7


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