Isaac Florentein's NINJA (2009) on Amazon Prime for the first time.The legendary Yoroi Bitsu box, which contains the armor and weapons used by ninjas for centuries, has been sent to NYC by a Japanese sensei (Togo Igawa) with his star pupil Casey (Scott Adkins) and daughter Namiko (Mika Hijil) to keep it away from expelled black sheep former student Mazazuka (Tsuyoshi Ihara), who moonlights as an assassin-for-hire for a criminal organization that's also a religious cult/criminal gang/oil business. Will Casey and Namiko survive both the cult's onslaught of assassins and Mazauka's stalking on The Big Apple as they try to keep their dojo's most prized possession from falling into the wrong hands?The real star of "Ninja" is co-writer/co-producer/2nd unit director Boaz Davidson (check his IMDB bio), who along with a game cast & crew pull the unlikely feat of making what initially looks like a cheesy SyFy made-for-TV movie (CG blood, blue-screen backdrops, fake NYC sets, etc.) feel like an honest-to-goodness attempt to do the ninja movie genre (particularly the early 80's variety) justice with 21st century production values. English and subtitled Japanese dialogue scenes are interchangeable, the story is cheesy but not stupid or made for mocking, the fighting and stunts are practical (even if the sped-up/slow-mo effects are overused) and, when the ass-kicking begins, innocents and bad guys get it in painful, awesome ways. Scott Adkins and Tsuyoshi Ihara make for passable and decent facsimiles of Michael Dudikoff and Shô Kosugi, respectively, though their eventual one-on-one duel isn't as awesome as their individual show-off moments leading up to it. If "The Raid 2" hasn't spoiled your ability to enjoy martial arts/fighting movies "Ninja" is a fine, short and bloody reminder that the movie ninjas show off more than the genuine article ever did.
Why is Boaz Davidson the real star of the movie and not Isaac Florentine? Wouldn't you say he has a lot to do with the movie being fun and having great fight choreography? I love that fight on the train.If you liked the movie, you should really check out Ninja: Shadow of a Tear. It's a lot "darker" and less silly, but has way more/better fighting. Also, KANE KOSUGI!
Florentine is just the director, but Boaz's fingerprints and personal touches (and if you've seen enough of his filmography you can spot them a mile away) are all over "Ninja." I'll admit I haven't seen enough Florentine movies to spot a pattern, but Boaz and "Ninja" clearly belong to his vision/ballpark based on what I've seen of his movies, many of which he didn't direct either. Sometimes the producer/writer really do have more sway over what ends on-screen than the director.
I'm aware of the idea of producer-as-auteur, but having seen all of Florentine's movies I'd argue the movie just as much belongs to him (and even Scott Adkins). This is all semantics, really. What matters is that we both like Ninja and the world is better for it.
Ninja in the Dragons Den (1982)Went into this blind simply because of a YouTube poster who had me all in with the comment "Magic titty rays!" I'm glad I was all in! This movie rules. It has just about everything you want in a good Ninja flick (although I wish there was more actual "Ninja's" throughout). The choreography of the fight scenes and the amazing stunt work are truly some of the best. It moves at a great pace, has the "goofy funny guy" in it and you get zip lines, grappling hooks, ninja claws, ninja swords, smoke bombs, ninjas on fire, fighting on stilts and, yes, magic titty rays :) The film also looks really good which started me thinking this can't just be some one and done director. Sure enough this was the first film directed by Corey Yuen who went on to direct Jet Li in 4 of his films, AND Statham in The Transporter (2002), So Close (2002) (the Chinese "Charlies Angels", actually a fun film to watch if you like McG gloss all over the place) and the last film he has done was in 2006 called DOA with Jaime Pressly (the video game adaptation. never seen it, never wanted to, looks awful, but now I've gotta check it out)
This sounds awesome. I don't know if I'll get a chance to watch TWO ninja movies today, but now I'm going to try.
I may have over sold it, but I'm a big Ninja movie fan so it could be that I was more surprised by this since I thought I had seen all of the good ones. If I could only watch ONE Ninja movie in a day, I would always choose "Revenge of the Ninja" with "Enter the Ninja" being a close second.
Duel to the Death (1983)Ninjas vs Kung Fu, China vs Japan, Men vs Women dressed as Men.Lots of cool wire work, people pulling out their swords midair then jumping off them to change direction, a giant ninja made up of smaller ninjas and ninja on giant kites. The action was cool and fun, and the story was fairly engaging. Unfortunately I kept getting mixed up who was Japanese and who was Chinese (racist?) which meant half the character's motivations were lost on me. Also, the woman dressed as a man aspect would have worked better if she wasnt stunning, wasnt wearing lovely makeup (although they even say that she isnt) and that the Chinese traditional dress wasnt so feminine (long hair tied back with long flowing robes and long ribbon sash for a belt). Basically Im racist and sexist.Ninjaistsploitation
Brad you beat me by mere minutes. (eyes narrow)....... You must be a ninja!
BA! You lazy Japanese lay about. You have no respect for the traditional Fantasia ways. That is why you will never win the duel, and THAT is why you will Never Post First. Hahahahahahaha *twirls lengthy beard*
Here, drink. It would be a shame to waste this wine.
Duel to the Death (1983)This film has been on my watch list for years. I first learned about it from a friend back in 2001 or so, promptly bought it, whereupon it has sat on my shelf waiting for my courage to build. (Or for me just to remember I wanted to see it.) While not unequivocally a ninja film, it does provide ninja by the bushel. Ninja hanging from kites, a really big ninja breaking apart into smaller (regular sized) ninja, borrowing ninja, ninja swinging through trees, ninja dropping poison down strings, ninja flying with palanquins (possibly my next travel solution), ninja that jump and disappear in puffs of smoke and leaves then rain a torrent of throwing stars, and more back flips and front flips than you can swing your ninjato at.I have reaped what Golden Harvest had sown.
That should be "burrowing ninja" instead of "borrowing ninja". Though the ninja probably did borrow a few things as well.
CHALLENGE OF THE LADY NINJA (1982)Now here’s a movie with a whole lotta crazy! A lady ninja recruits a group of other kickass ladies into a team to… fight everybody, I guess. There’s some talk about Chinese/Japanese tensions and something else about revolutionaries but there’s really no plot here. Just random fight scenes and comedy bits. The fighting is all sped-up and stylized with old school “Whoosh-SLAP! Whoosh-SLAP!” sound effects. The lady ninjas can also do magic, creating illusions. These illusions are usually of themselves wearing bikinis and lingerie, so the no-good men can go all Tex Avery and overreact with slapstick horniness. It’d be sexist and tasteless if it wasn’t so dumb.
These writeups are killing me, because now I want to watch ALL OF THE MOVIES.
Ninja Death 1 (1987?)This was...hell, I don't know what this was. Apparently it was part of a long film that ran out of money. So they took what they had and chopped it into 3 bits. It features a credit sequence that has no credits (and which looks to all the world like Cirque du Soleil created a show about ninjas), and a hero who starts out with an American voice but who mysteriously changes to a Brit halfway through. The action is entertaining enough, but the movie is utterly incomprehensible (this may be because this is just the first part). Oh, and the movie stops dead in the middle so we can see a couple having soft-core sex. We've never seen them before, and will never see them again. At one point our hero even tells his master, "A lot of strange things have happened lately. I don't see the connection." The master's sage response? "That's life."
I also watched Ninja Death, which has been on my radar ever since HHH talked about it during last year's Junesploitation. I echo everything Steve K. says. The movie is nonsensical and a drag to get through. The fights are good, but what little enjoyment I found came from the terrible dubbing. Steve mentions the British accent that floats in and out, but I also laughed every time someone would swear or call another character a "stupid bisexual." It all feels totally out of place. I might have to watch another ninja movie just right the ship that has been this year's Junesploitation so far.
You need 100CCs of Miami Connection STAT.
Aw, my bad, ninjers! I thought Ninja Death 1 was insane and totally nonsensical, thus VERY entertaining, particularly for the switch in dubbing companies half-way through (because it was cheaper?). I got really mad at a Wonderfest audience for laughing at the dubbing of Godzilla vs. Megallon, though, so I'm a hypocrite. And a stupid bisexual.
Ninja III: The Domination A female telephone-line-worker-slash-aerobics-instructor is possessed by the spirit of an evil ninja. Need I say more? Ok, she also pours a can of V8 on her boobs. And a video game shoots lasers at her head. And a ninja wearing too much eyeliner kills a metric shitload of golfers. And did I mention the V8? Seriously, see this movie. It's wall-to-wall bonkers. Sooooooo much fun!
One of my absolute favorites! Used to watch this as a kid as a double feature with "Breakin'" cause Special K (Lucinda Dickie) was my woman! She's better as a Ninja then a breakdancer though.
To my shame, I have still never seen either Breakin' movie. This will change on a free space day!
No shame, JP! You could always watch either on "Cannon" day too!
Holy crap. After saying that I decided to look up who directed B2 -Electric Boogaloo. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Firstenberg This guy is THE definition of Junesploitation. He directed Ninja III!!
American Ninja V (1993)In my defence, it was the only Ninja film I could access today…When a scientist’s daughter is kidnapped by evil henchman the American Ninja, Joe (David Bradley), sets off on her trail with irritating kid Hiro (Lee Reyes) in tow. Everything about this movie is terrible. The acting is unspeakably bad, the plot makes no sense and, worst of all, the fights are just dreadful. At no point does it ever even look like people are getting hit, and there is not a drop of blood spilt in the entire film.However… it is absolutely hilarious. From mutli-coloured, boiler suited, utterly pathetic scores of ninjas to the worst booby traps in movie history the production values are lower than that of your average student film. Think a super low budget, really long episode of Power Rangers and you’re getting somewhere close to the feel of the film. The main henchman, Viper (James Lew), is dressed more like a wizard than a ninja and seems to have the ability to generate his own underlings at will. Brilliantly Joe and Viper are able to teleport at any time, except when they really need to… Pat Morita also shows up for three scenes in a desperate attempt at credibility.Might just be the worst film I’ve ever seen, but I loved it!
American Ninja (1985): This was quite fun! That last scene got crazy in a good way. I want to be a ninja. That is all.
Wait...you're not already a ninja? YOU LIED TO ME!
Shhh you are ruining my cover
Mask of the NinjaI started this Casper Van Dien movie (which apparently aired on Spike TV originally) but it's G-D awful. I turned it off after 20 minutes and am now going to watch Miami Connection because I need a sure thing after 4 nights of crappy movies. I didn't plan this month too well so far.
Surf Ninjas (1993) - First Viewing.Really wanted to see this movie when it came out 2 decades ago. Probably would have enjoyed it more 2 decades ago. Leslie Nielson as the masked villain, Rob Schneider is the wacky sidekick. Let the comedy commence! Still it was pretty harmless fun, a good early 90’s time capsule, and everyone loves Ernie Reyes Jr, right?
Great review! I used to watch this movie constantly back when it came out on video. It's goofy fun. And yes, Ernie Reyes Jr is the best.
Yakuza Vs. Ninja (2012) First viewing.I went into this one completely blind without even reading a description. I picked it out based solely on the name (my bad, I know). I mean "Yakuza Vs. Ninja"... you can't get much more, uh... exploity(?) than that right? [Spoilers: Yes. Yes you can. Very easily.]This movie is very much a live-action anime.... if you have much experience with films of that ilk you'll know what the hit/miss ratio is on these type of movies. It's rough, but when they hit they hit big. This one doesn't. There are 4 action sequences in the movie and I only found one to be sort of okay. The anime influence isn't felt there at all, but it really clubs you over the head in the comedy portions of the movie which occupy 90% of the running time. That's right Yakuza Vs. Ninja is an action-comedy, an action-comedy with a completely played out plot that I'm not even going to bother recapping. Worst of all: It's not funny. At all. In any way. Even to someone like me who knows a fair amount about Japanese culture and comedy tropes. Skip it.
Five Element Ninja (1982)Two clans are at war with each other. After getting their asses kicked in a tournament against the other clan, they decide to hire Ninjas to wipe their rivals out. Little do they know that the five element ninjas and their leader want to wipe everyone out and rule. It's up to the lone surviving member of the clan to avenge his fallen brothers.This is probably one the best shaw brother flicks I have seen! Pretty much non stop kung fu action throughout. The Five Element Ninjas are Gold, Water, Earth, Wood, and Fire. I'd have to say Earth being my favorite. There are some great death scenes in this movie too that I don't won't to spoil. Cheh Chang writes and directs this film. He also wrote and directed Five Deadly Venoms which is another favorite of mine. Highly recommended if your into Kung Fu films.
Revenge of the NInja (1983)As kind of a ninja newbie, I can't imagine there being a more definitive ninja movie than this. Though a sequel, this is the blueprint for every ninja movie that succeeded it. The fights last forever. A classic!
YES, YES and YES!!!
Goemon (2009)A fighter (not quite a ninja, but I'll take it) robs from the rich and gives to the poor. But when he discovers who is responsible for the death of his family and his mentor, he decides to take revenge. There's a whole, rather literal, allegory about Pandora's Box which is kind of boring. And the shit ton of really, really bad CGI was super distracting. And the fighting could have been cooler. However, by the end I found myself really invested in the characters. Although I do wish I had watched something a bit more fun for Junesploitation!
The Octagon (1980)Patrick was 2 for 2 with me on his Netflix recommendations so I figured I'd see if he could keep it up - no fault of the movie whatsoever, but I fell asleep on my couch less than 5 minutes in. :( Probably shouldn't even post this but I promise I'll "finish" it later!
If it helps, I couldn't wholeheartedly stand behind that recommendation. It was born more out of there-aren't-that-many-ninja-movies-on-Netflix-and-Adam-Riske-is-already-recommending-Ninja-Shadow-of-a-Tear necessity than anything else. Glad you dug the other two, though!
Ninja: Shadow of a Tear (2013)Pretty great movie. Excellent action. Shitty acting. Stupid story. But so what (who cares)? The fight scenes are more awesome than Taco Bell's new Waffle Taco ("A Warm Waffle Wrapped Around Sausage & Egg. Only at Taco Bell®!"). Scott Adkins is a mix between Paul Rudd and Chuck Norris. Only holy balls is this guy cut from marble. #Drool #Blessed
Tried to watch Shinobi: Law of Shinobi (2004) but I feel asleep. This time it was because the movie was terrible, less so because I was tired.