Sunday, November 6, 2011

Nine Days of the Ninja: Day Six!

Steve Miller - now, this is the one not in charge of the same named "-------- --------- Band" but the media guru managing the whole Cinema Steve blog franchise - well, he invited me to post daily for the first third of November about the silent killers that make heart disease look like a piker - and with my agreement we find ourselves making our way through:

It's not too late to join us by simply going here.

Enter the Ninja  (The Cannon Group, 1981)

Before the Camera:

Franco Nero  (Street Law)
Susan George  (The House Where Evil Dwells)
Sho Kosugi  (Nine Deaths of the Ninja)
Alex Courtney  (Looking for Mr. Goodbar)
Zachi Noy  (Lemon Popsicle)
Constantine Gregory  (GoldenEye)
Will Hare (Mob Queen)
Dale Ishimoto  (Ninja III: The Domination)
Joonee Gamboa  (Missing in Action)
Leo Martinez  (Vampire Hookers)
Ken Metcalfe  (Firecracker)
Subas Herrero  (Black Mama, White Mama)
Christopher George  (Grizzly)
Charles Venarius

Behind the Camera:

Directed by Menahem Golan
Produced by Judd Bernard, Yoram Globus, and Menahem Golan
Written by Dick Desmond

Story by Dick Desmond and Mike Stone
Ah yes. The Ninja. Let us contemplate this most secretive martial artist. An assassin adept in weapons, concealment, and striking from the darkness in silence. Perhaps Japan's deadliest invention, Godzilla notwithstanding. So how perfect that this Ninja flick should be such a shining example of this particularly Japanese genre, since it was directed by an Israeli, stars an Italian, and features mostly Europeans and a few Americans in the supporting cast! Thank goodness Sho Kosugi is in attendance!
     We drop right in on the action as a white suited ninja with what appears to be a small dachsund under his face cover battles his way through a wilderness full of ninjas while being pursused by ninjas. His objective: a building full of ninjas. So we know the movie's not going to be stingy with the ninjys. In fact the first ten minutes forgoes dialogue of any kind, supplanting it with wall-to-wall action and bloodletting.

He didn't have a car antenna, so
the foxtail went under his mask.

His porn name was Salsiccia Grande.
 Eventually we discover three things: all is not as it seems; the white clad ninja is Cole (Nero); and that Cole isn't smuggling chinchillas under his mask - no, even better - he's rocking a porn stache! Cole graduates from Ninja Academy, but all is not giggles and laughs as fellow ninja Hasegawa (Kosugi) voices his displeasure: he feels Cole is more an Occidental Tourist than Neenja (as he pronounces it).
    Cole is supremely unconcerned with this, throws his ninja diploma in his luggage, and takes off on a world tour. First stop: the Phillipines - to see his old friend Frank Landers (Courtney) and Frank's new wife Mary-Ann (Susan George). But Cole suddenly finds himself in a movie plot when he discovers the Landers are being stalked by Siegfried (Noy), the hook-handed henchman of reclusive nutjob businessman Charles Venarius (Christopher George). Venarius wants the Land's lander, er, Landers's land to expand his criminal empire. The Landers don't want to sell.

"I want a ninja! Find me a ninja!"
 As Venarius struts around his sumptuous digs concocting art displays of synchronized swimmers (!) and passing orders to his lackeys through his right hand man Mr. Parker (Gregory), Cole thwarts those lackeys at every turn, not even needing to resort to his ninja gear to clean their clocks and keep the humiliation kettle on a slow boil. Eventually the baddies discover - despite a lack of internet in 1981 - that Cole is a ninja, leading to Venarius spouting a hell of a line as he decides to fight fire with fire:    -------------->

Of course, Mr. Parker - again, with no internet whatsoever - manages to offer the job to none other than that nasty pisspuss Hasegawa - who is only too happy to suit up and start ninjanating everyone around the Landers place. This leads to our big climax - Cole gets his ninja back on as he and his pals have to take on Venarius and his men and Hasegawa with the stakes the entire world! No, wait, I mean, a few acres of Filipino soil. Ahem.

It is a little hard to tell the combatants apart in the final battle...

Although this was preceded in theaters by the Chuck Norris ninja opus The Octagon (sure to show up around here eventually), which was released the previous year - this was the movie that really got the ninja going in 80's American Pop Culture. And what a movie it is! Nero's always fun to watch - even if he is dubbed by an extremely generic American voice. All of the actors bring a lot to this buffet table - Kosugi makes for a well drawn villain; Christopher George gobbles the sets in every scene he's in; Susan George is her usual sexy, pouty self; Courtney spends the whole movie channelling late 60's Charlton Heston, including his voice, either dubbed, or layed in later as it sounds dubbed and Heston-y.

Susan George contributes gun fu.
The action is plentiful, and there's just a lot of goofy fun on display. It's not hard to spot Nero's fighting double in any shot that widens out to show Cole's knees, though the editing is pretty well done between actor and double. It's also very fun to see Zachi Noy - Hughie himself - playing the equivalent Peter Lorre part at the age of 28. Golan keeps everything moving well, and the violence is vivid and comic booky, just as it should be. I was surprised Susan George didn't contribute a nude scene - like in the film's one ill-advised moment, when Cole and Mary-Ann sleep together while Frank dozes in another room - but the scene blacks out as Mary-Ann slides into Cole's bed in a nightie - not the most heroic action I've ever seen, to be sure, but what do I know? I just work here. Summing up - as a confirmed fan of this movie's two sequels, I used to relegate this movie to third place based on one VHS viewing in college. I now say it ties with part 3 for a close second place finish! I mean, look at this final shot:

What more do you need? Check this one out!


Let's Get Out of Here ?

At approximately 32:00, Susan George tires of the company of "The Hook."

Eye Candy ?

Oh wow. I went gaga over Susan George back in the late 70's, so it was only a matter of waiting for one of her movies to show up here. That is a longwinded way of saying "Welcome to the list, Ms. George!"

Buddha Man's Capsule Review

Buddha Man says "Enter the Ninja - right through
the door marked Fun Movie!"

Thank you, Mr. Man. Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

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