The Direct to Video Connoisseur
I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Revenge of the Ninja (1983)
For our last post in our Golan-Globus week, it was decided that we needed to have a ninja movie. I had pretty much covered the American Ninja series, so those were out. Then there was Enter the Ninja, the first in the three part Ninja series, but that doesn't have a lot of actual ninja fighting, and Shô Kosugi was a bad guy and in it only at the beginning and the end. So it was settled, Revenge of the Ninja would be our ninja movie to end the week.
Revenge of the Ninja doesn't exactly take place after the first one, because Kosugi's beheaded at the end of that, and here he's a good guy. Anyway, his clan is slaughtered except for his mom and infant son, so a buddy from the States offers to put him up in Hollywood so the two can open an art exhibit. Turns out the friend is also a ninja, and he's using the store as a front to sell drugs. Shock, horror, gasp! Even worse, he's pissed off the mob, and they're kind of taking it out on Kosugi.
This is amazing. Very close to the first two American Ninjas in quality. Kosugi shines, and it was a much better move to focus the film around him instead of The 'Stash like they did in part one. Sure, it's extremely silly, but the question is, how exactly would you like your ninja film? I personally prefer them catching arrows with their teeth, having the capacity to store a Walmart sized inventory of weapons on their person, and the ability to dispatch anyone not trained in ninjitsu with relative ease. This also came correct with a great ending battle, where the bad guy somehow stored a few dummies of himself in the area, knowing he and Kosugi would be fighting there. From front to back, side to side, an amazing piece of cinema.
One advantage to having Kosugi not only in the protagonist role, but also fighting a guy without a moustache at the end, was that we were able to root for him. No one expected him to defeat The Stash in the first movie. Really, it was the only way we could accept him losing, I mean, it's understandable to take one on the chin to a guy with that kind of facial hair. But in Revenge of the Ninja, he was the real deal, and we were all better for it. This was also a much better use of his great skills than Black Eagle was. I'm curious to see what he does in the new Ninja Assassin, because imdb says he's in it. It better be good, that's all I have to say. They have a lot of great Golan-Globus ninja films to live up to.
A lot of people would write a film like this off as "cheesy". "Oh, look at that, you can see when he jumps off the building that he's bracing himself so he lands on the safety mat, then they cut away to him landing on his feet. That so cheesy!" Is it? Is it really? "That sword blade barely touched that guy, and now he's dead. That's so cheesy!" Is it? Is it really? I say it's awesome, that's what I say. I'd rather see a guy jump from a building then cut to his landing, than see him jump in front of a green screen. Maybe if Golan-Globus were still around today they'd be wearing the green screen out too, and I'd call them to the carpet for it just like I do the rest of today's film makers. Which was the better movie, the first Star Wars in 1977, or the one Lucas made in 1999 with all the computer shit? Call Revenge of the Ninja silly, call it ridiculous, call it fun, but don't ever call it cheesy.
I could've sworn John Miller from Undefeatable was in this as the police officer in charge or martial arts training who helps Kosugi out, but from imdb I can't tell. None of these bastards ever have pictures, and I never pay attention enough to the film to find out the characters names, so when I look them up, I'm like, "was that what that character's name was?" He looked a little rounder, but he delivered his lines in exactly the same way-- this kind of slow, halting style. I mean, I didn't see a John Miller in the Revenge credits, but who knows. Maybe I'm just losing it in my old age.
Before I wrap things up, I needed to mention a scene where Kosugi and the John Miller look alike take down the Village People. I'm not sure exactly what they were going for with that, but it was amazing. Cowboy in a blue outfit, sure, why not? "Look at the guy dressed like a cowboy. That's cheesy!" Is it?... okay, I'll stop.
Perhaps no film better embodies the Golan-Globus bouillabaisse sense of film making than this one. You had Native Americans, six-year-olds, and grandmothers all fighting at some point. People were stabbed, slashed, gouged, etc. in myriad ways. Plenty of car chases, fight scenes, and explosions too. It was a virtual cornucopia of amazing action without a hint of pretense. How else would you take your action?
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086192/