Take Golan-Globus, add the spice of martial artist Sho Kosugi, and stir with a dash of interesting co-stars and - Tah Dah! - you have the wonderful concoction referred to as:
THE NINJA TRILOGY
Warriors of a lost martial art! Hired assassins ...human killing machines!
Enter the Ninja
It’s 1981. Golan-Globus had to think that with the success of Eric van Lustbader’s Ninja series that the world would be caught on fire with their own. So, what do they give us?
Franco (DJANGO) Nero visits an old army buddy that is having a bit of trouble with an entrepreneur who wants his land due to the fact that it’s rich with oil. Nero (who had a body double for most of the film) goes wild on the rich guy’s bodyguards and eventually has to fight the bad ninja Sho Kosugi. This, of course, is the highlight of the film.
Throw in stalwart Christopher George as a money-hungry villain, along with the quintessential early 80s bar fight, and you have the ingredients for an early 80s exploitation film. Co-star Sho Kosugi is also on hand, here. Unfortunately, it's basically to get his ass kicked (unless he's taking on a drunken dude). We also have Zachi Noy (best known from the LEMON POPSICLE series) as a bad guy with a hook for a hand.
Take out the middle of this film, watch the beginning and finale, and you'll have fun. Still, this one was a riot to watch during the early days of HBO or, again, while hosting your own ”Who Wanted to Be a Ninja?” party.
And, last but not least, you'll get to gander at Susan George; whom I have to wonder is still secretly lobbying to have MANDINGO removed from her filmography.
400 Years of Training in the Art of Sudden Death…
Unleashed on 20th Century America...
REVENGE OF THE NINJA
Ah ha! The gem of the trilogy!
Golan-Globus went screaming with the opening of this film. A casual family outing turns into a massacre when ninjas attack. And in the most shocking moment, as ninjas are falling dead all over the screen, a young boy gets a shuriken to the forehead. Are you going to see this on a modern screen? Hell no!
Sho Kosugi – now a good ninja - packs up the remainder of his family and moves to LA. Here in the city of Lost Angels, Kosugi is living the good life as owner of a gallery which specializes in priceless dolls. Little does he know, however, that the dolls are packed with heroin and that his partner - Braden (Arthur Roberts, in what I consider a rather creepy role) - is the smuggler. And did I fail to mention that Braden is also a ninja, too? A drum roll bad ninja?
There's some nifty ninja throw downs in this one! Aboard for the action are personal favorite Professor Toru Tanaka, along with the likes of Kosugi's real-life son Kane and the Michael Myers of HALLOWEEN 5 himself: Don Shanks.
This film really pushed the boundaries for violence. I’ve already mentioned the opening scene, but there’s still more to come! Shurikens bore into eyeballs, axes crush human skulls, katanas inflict deadly wounds, and there’s a scene where blood gushes out of a victim that you’d usually only see in Japanese films.
This is one the drive-in fan needs to see! It’s full of over-the-top action from beginning to the finale where the two ninjas duke it out on the roofs of high buildings.
Memorable quote: “Only a ninja can stop a ninja.”
That or smelling Lucinda Dickey’s dirty panties…
He’s The Ultimate Killer… She’s The Perfect Weapon
And speaking of Special K from BREAKIN’ (and the unforgettable ELECTRIC BOOGALOO), Lucinda Dickey dons the ninja garb this time out as a woman possessed by the spirit of a bad ninja.
When this happens, who ya gonna call? Sho Kosugi, of course!
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Sure, this film boils down to being FLASHDANCE MEETS THE EXCORCIST (as it's widely known), but before any “spooky” stuff happens, we get a nifty ninja opening that showcases our evil assassin playing havoc on a golf course. Aside from the slaughter of 300+ cops, and a blow dart into the barrel of a pistol death that has to be seen to be believed, there's also a wild chase scene where the “master of stealth and hiding” is riddled with tons of bullets. The ninja throws a smoke bomb and disappears. Badly wounded, he finds reporter Dickey and transfers his spirit to her.
Now Dickey is on the road to kill all the cops who shot the ninja to pieces. Unfortunately, she has no idea what she’s doing. And to complicate matters she falls in love with one of the cops who killed the ninja.
NINJA III is full of early 80s pop music, the synthesizer pumping loudly while nubile girls do aerobics.
The film moves rather slowly after the BANG! beginning, but slows down considerably before the final showdown. Still, there’s enough here to please any drive-in fan. There are stunts involving motorcycles and helicopters, not to mention a few murder scenes thrown in for good measure. I never knew that falling on a tombstone with your head would crack it open. I learn something new everyday!
There are also unintentionally funny “supernatural” scenes with a possessed Dickey. Watch for the floating sword accompanied by strobe lights and visible strings.
Sho Kosugi shows up at about the half-hour mark, but doesn’t get down to the action until the final showdown. All the other characters are pale and one-dimensional.
Do I recommend this to drive-in fans? Most definitely! Run down to the concession stand and get yourself a big block of fondue! You won’t regret it.
The entire NINJA TRILOGY is highly recommended for the drive-in crowd. Prepare yourself for an exploitation O.D.!
And if you’re too young to remember these films, give them a go to see these slices of early 1980s cinema. I seriously doubt you’ll be disappointed. And see if you don’t come out wanting to be a ninja.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go lay down. I just tried a high kick and believe I’ve strained my groin. Aren’t you glad I told you that?