The Ninja trilogy

As Masayuki
Suzuki’s
comedic/
fantastical
adventure Nin
Nin (aka: Nin x
Nin: Ninja
Hattori-kun,
2004) reminded
us, contemporary
heroic-assassin
movies are,
basically,
superhero
cinema – just
imperfectly
adjusted to the
current phases of
Marvel and DC
franchises,
perhaps until the
Iron Fist and/ or
Shang-Chi
movies emerge
somewhere/
whenever from a
comics
continuum.
Featuring Sho
Kosugi, The
Ninja trilogy
begins with
Menahem
Golan’s Enter
The Ninja
(1981). This once
popular VHS
rental stars
Franco Nero and
Susan George,
and the movie
appears to be
inspired partly by
Enter The
Dragon (1973),
and TV series
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5/11/2018 The Ninja trilogy – blu-ray reviews for VideoVista at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20160409091654/http://www.videovista.net/reviews/jan16/ninjatril.html 2/5
Kung Fu (1972-
5).
Veteran gaijin
Cole (Franco
Nero) graduates
from Japanese
combat school,
and leaves to visit
his old friend
Landers, who has
settled down in
the Philippines.
His stranger-intown
presence
evokes western
formulas with
martial arts a
novelty
ingredient.

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The
flashbacks, to our
heroes’ past as
soldiering
buddies in
Angola and
Congo, are a
clear precedent
of Rambo heroics
in First Blood
(1982). A typical
high-campy
antagonist is
capitalist villain
and Manila
mogul, Venarius
(Christopher
George), the local
kingpin of sleazy
decadence whose
parades of hired
goons don’t
survive very long.
Ultimately, the
real henchman to
watch out for is
Hasegawa (Sho
Kosugi), Cole’s
former rival, who
is recruited by
Venarius for door-die
problemsolving
as a
stealthy assassin.
It eventually
becomes the
violent cliché of a
one-man army
versus army of
one. There’s
vengeance of
merciless zen as
whiplash kicks
sound like
sneezes, punches
5/11/2018 The Ninja trilogy – blu-ray reviews for VideoVista at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20160409091654/http://www.videovista.net/reviews/jan16/ninjatril.html 3/5
are played on a
cardboard drum
kit, and a local
cockfighting
arena is a wellchosen
venue for
the decisive
showdown.
Sam
Firstenberg’s
sequel Revenge
Of The Ninja
(1983) is not too
dissimilar to be a
jarring follow-up.
Despite getting
his head chopped
off in Enter The
Ninja, Kosugi is
back in action
playing an
entirely different
character – ex-pat
Cho, living in the
USA – whose able
sprog Kane is a
little schoolboy
who takes care of
big bullies,
predating the
Karate Kid
series. Cho
imports Japanese
dolls for a new
art gallery, but
remains quite
unaware at first
that his corrupt
business-partner
is smuggling
heroin.
Whenever plot
continuity or
development
misfires, or
lapses into hokey
dialogue, the
director throws
in another dojo
display of martial
artistry.
Familiar crime
story beats of
robbery, car
chase, and street
fighting –
featuring a
Village People
assortment
undermining the
supposed
individuality of
various stunt
5/11/2018 The Ninja trilogy – blu-ray reviews for VideoVista at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20160409091654/http://www.videovista.net/reviews/jan16/ninjatril.html 4/5
punks in gang
rumbles. Cho’s
relentless pursuit
of thieves is a
minor classic
sequence of lowbudget
1980s
action cinema.
However, some
unintentional
farce results from
the ninja-granny
murder and most
of the death
scenes have a
melodramatic
flourish. A
rooftop tennis
court’s chickenwire
cage-fight is
only the starting
point for the duel
of good against
evil ninjas.
Notable cult flick
Ninja III: The
Domination
(1984) delves
deep into occult
weirdness and
the supernatural
than previous
movies. Lucinda
Dickey plays
Christie, a
telephone
engineer working
on overhead
lines, and her
hobbies include
cheesy stuff like
pastel leotards
and leggings for
gratuitous
aerobics – so her
character is
obviously
composed of
welder Alex
(Jennifer Beals),
from Flashdance,
and Regan
(Linda Blair),
from The
Exorcist.
Christie’s
romance with a
policeman soon
gives way to the
curse of
possession from
a haunted
samurai sword.
There are smoke
5/11/2018 The Ninja trilogy – blu-ray reviews for VideoVista at videovista.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20160409091654/http://www.videovista.net/reviews/jan16/ninjatril.html 5/5
effects and
strobe-lights that
verge on a
psychedelic laser
show as the
archetypal
American nice
girl turns into a
remorseless
psycho-killer.
James Hong is
good fun as the
Chinese magician
trying to help our
distraught
heroine who only
wants to have fun
dancing in her
bedroom despite
the intrusions of
seemingly
demonic forces
attached to ninja
weaponry. The
eye-patched hero
Yamada (Kosugi,
of course) tackles
the spooky ninja
ghost fiend in a
climactic fest of
mystic fu.
Recently,
bloodthirsty
shocker Ninja
Assassin (2009)
updated this
movie’s horrorshow
antics with
Kosugi in the
supporting cast