Friday, November 4, 2011

Nine Days of the Ninja: Day Four!

Steve Miller, the esteemed gentleman behind the fun Cinema Steve blog empire, thought it might be a good idea to throw the spotlight on those most elusive of martial arts mavens - I agreed with him, and so here we are nearly halfway through the...

Those bloggers brave enough to join us
should go here.

Ninja Death Squad  (Filmark International, 1987)

Before the Camera:

Glen Carson (Ninja 8: Warriors of Fire)
Joff Houston (Ninja Phantom Heroes)
John Wilford (Death Code: Ninja)
Jonathan Isgar (Ninja: American Warrior)

Actually, all of the above guys are in all of the above movies. Except that punk Wilford, who broke out on his own with that Death Code: Ninja movie...

Behind the Camera:

Directed by Tommy Cheng (Godfrey Ho)

Produced by Tomas Tang (Godfrey Ho)

Written by   no one would take the blame credit, but I bet it was Godfrey Ho, too tired to come up with another fake name  - you know, something like "Thommy Pong".

You gotta love a filmmaker who thinks like this: Ninja. Code. Heroes. Death. Warrior. Fire. Squad. Pick Three. Instant Movie Title!

    Legends tell of a movie producer who went mad in the 80's and shot about a million feet of film showing nothing but crazy ninja action. Ninjas fighting, ninjas battling, ninjas wrestling, ninjas tussling, ninjas killing, ninjas dying. Then he shot a several "plot" sequences using about 6 actors and about 1 plot. Then he bought up any unfinished film project he could find and taking it all he disappeared into the mythical Editing Room of Mora Tau, and emerged a few months later with more ninja movies than anyone had ever seen, or would ever want to. (Except for me). His name? Godfrey Ho. (Well, of course!)

He threw together film stocks and movies that were never meant to play the same theater, let alone find themselves manhandled into a movie with ninjas. For example: Ho bought an unfinished movie about dead Asian guys walking around. Add some of the footage with black clad Asian warriors and Voira! Zombie vs Ninja (1988)! And that's 22 years before Ninjas vs Zombies (2010), though I can only imagine what a terrific double feature that would be!

But I digress. Back to Ninja Death Squad.

    This is normally where I'd recount the plot. Except this time there isn't any. There's a couple of guys, and everybody else wants to kill them. Lucky thing they're both ninjas! Cue ninja action for 80 minutes. Roll credits.

    Needless to say, I loved this movie.
Here's a really terrible picture, but two things: it was literally
the only photo from this movie available on the entire
internet; and it does show the epic ninja umbrella battle!

    This is a very cheap flick, with some of the worst dubbing I've ever seen, rivalling Challenge of the Tiger, but in a different way. In that Bruce Le/Richard Harrison movie, the acting of the dubbing was actually not bad, it was that the words and the lips really never matched, even to the point of entire conversations going on with no one moving their mouths. Here, total opposite: they try really hard to match the amount of dialogue to the amount of lip movement, but it results in short choppy sentences that literally sound like they were made up on the spot, with three or four performers doing all their "best" voices to provide sound for all the speaking roles in the movie. Truly wretched dialogue results, made all the more heavenly when every fourth voice sounds like one of the guys' Arnold Stang impression.

     Sealing the deal for me is that this is ninja action of the "superhuman" variety. (Lesson #1: ninjas who obey the laws of nature and physics are BORING ninjas). You know you're in for a good time when in the first few minutes, the lead throws down a smoke bomb, there's an obvious cut, with a completely different cloud of smoke, and the hero is instantly in his ninja outfit, ready to fight. Later on, they run out of smoke bombs and the jump cut change is done right in front of your eyes, making it even more impressive. (And by more impressive I mean less impressive). These ninjas also can jump a few stories straight up; throw their costume so cloth flies out of their sleeve - like a bad Las Vegas stage magician's 'neverending scarves' trick - and wrap around a fleeing enemy's neck; make themselves into a see through apparition like Topper, and produce weaponry that must be coming from some mysterious 'ninja pocket dimension' they carry with them, because it would hurt too much to have this stuff hidden in any orifices.

    So in the end, you may have no idea what's going on moment to moment, but in those moments you'll see ninjas doing neat stuff, lots of machine gun fire and explosions, a flamethrower, and at least one woman wandering around in a jungle wearing a micromini skirt. What more could anyone ask?

Let's Get Out of Here ?

At  around 14:58, after having their clocks cleaned, one of our dubbed bad guys proposes taking their timepieces elsewhere.

Eye Candy ?

There are at least two women in this movie, onscreen for at least 47 seconds. Total. For both. I think. Nope, no winners this time.

Buddha Man's Capsule Review

Buddha Man says "Ninja Death Squad is Ho-key fun,
by Godfrey!"

 Til next time, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!


  1. I don't remember this flick, but I do remember the great Michael Dudikoff in American Ninja. What an Oscar worthy talent he was. Why he put Jean Claude Van Damme to shame. And of course Stormshadow from G.I. Joe. These were the ninjas that ruled my house as a kid.

  2. I once saw a version of "The Chinese Connection" (aka "Fist of Fury") where every voice was dubbed by, at most, two actors. I wonder if there might might just have been a single actor frankly.

    These on-the-cheap dub jobs can bring their own set of amusements sometimes.

  3. MB - I am a huge Dudikoff fan, and American Ninja got a little love in my first post for this fest! Who knows, it might show up again, too! I never got into GI Joe the cartoon - too many lasers firing with not nearly enough people getting hit and dying...

    Steve - oh yeah - did you ever see the Martial Arts theater on Sunday mornings that I think used to be on USA network WAAAAYYYY back there in like the late 80's? It always had like two guys making up the dubbing as they went, or so it seemed. Really enjoying the blogfest!