In the fall, we sometimes think of politics. And when we think of politics we sometimes think of black clad, 16th century spy/assassins. Yes, we are talking about ninjas. We Americans love our ninja movies, and have even starred in a couple. So let's look at a few ninja movies that make black pants cool, and a couple that make you want to consume more saki. Most of these films are from the golden era of exaggerated actions movies the 80's, so if you're sensitive to dusty nunchuks, stop reading now.
THE HIGH KICKERS
Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear (2013) (R)
American martial artist Casey Bowman (played by Scott Adkins), has settled down at the Kōga ninja dojo and married Namiko Takeda (played by Mika Hijii), who is pregnant with their first child. Now, you know that if a martial artist/ninja is married, tragedy will soon follow. Bowman stops a couple of muggers, and during the fight loses his wallet. With his address known to the bad guys, what starts out as a good deed soon escalates to dealing with old revenge plots, drug lords, and armed compounds. Finding antique ninja gear along the way, Bowman avenges himself in truly spectacular fashion upon his enemies. And, to make it better Kane Kosugi, son of ninja movie master, Sho Kosugi, is part of the cast.
Revenge of the Ninja (1983) (R)
Speaking of Sho Kosugi, this gem is one of his finest films. A member of a ninja clan, Chozen "Cho" Osaki (played by Kosugi), leaves Japan after most all of his family is killed by a rival clan. Helped to protect his mother and young son to escape by an American friend, Cho comes to the US, and opens a Japanese doll gallery. Unbeknownst to Cho, there is a rash of ninja related deaths in the area, and some one close to him is a low down, rotten drug dealer. As all of these ugky notions come to a head, Cho must don the black garb of butt-kickery, and unleash the Revenge of the Ninja upon those who have hurt him and his family.
The afore mentioned Kane Kosugi, plays the movie son to his father and is shown to be quite the impressive little martial artist himself.
Sho Kosugi and Keith Vitale VS. The Village People
The Last Ninja (1983) (unrated)
Starring Michael Beck (Swan from The Warriors) as art dealer Kenjiro Sakura, a Caucasian male who, after being left on a Japanese family's doorstep, is raised to become a ninja. In this what-was-supposed-to-be-the-pilot-for-a-TV series, the emphasis is not shown to be the action, but on character development and origins. Although it ended with a very well done climax that shows trickery and deception, as well as combat skill as tools of the ninja, it wasn't taken well by the viewing audience with such films as The Octagon (1980) and Enter The Ninja (1981) still very much a part of more dramatic, introspective types of ninja films. This cult classic can be found on outlets such as Youtube, if you have a hankering for made for TV shadow warriors, this may be your film.
KICKS TO THE HEAD
Alien vs. Ninja (2010) (R)
It's a ninja movie, no it's a sci fi film, no it's a comedy. Or maybe it's just Alien Versus Ninja, or as it's called by the fans, AVN. Full of bad jokes, bad CGI, sloppy plots, and enough fake gore to make Jason Voorhes belch, this film manages to make ninjas, aliens, and ridiculous anachronisms look bad. Trashy, slashy, and stinky this is not a ninja film for ninja fans.
American Ninja 2: The Confrontation (1987)
The further adventures of Joe Armstrong, played by Michael Dudikoff, in the US Army. Arriving at a Marine base in the Caribbean, Joe and his faithful partner, Curtis Jackson, played by Steve James, are sent to help investigate the disappearance for four Marines. Along the way Joe, Curtis, and some new friends get attacked by ninja while on a water skiing outing. Our duo scares off the ninja, and the group escapes. Arriving back in town Armstrong is soon lured to a bar, which of course is a trap. One convenient mystery, coincidence, or person continues to be dropped into Joe's path including winding up on an island is super ninjas. Clunky, junky, and forgetful, this ninja movie is not a worthy successor to it's first movie.
Ninja III: The Domination (1984)
Oh, Sho, why can't all of your ninja roles be as kicking as Revenge of The Ninja and Pray for Death ? Starring Lucinda Dickey as a telephone line repair woman, this film goes where most ninja movies haven't gone before and probably never should. Possessed by the spirit of a dying ninja she encountered, our repair woman gains all of the shadow warrior skills she needs to kill the cops that the ninja remembers from dying. Along the way, her console video game and her kitchen sink cabinet become possessed and has to be stopped by an eye patch wearing Sho Kosugi because, 'only a ninja can stop a ninja'. This film has several identity issues trying to decide if it's Flashdance, Enter The Ninja, or, The Exorcist. Peppered with 1980's caricature's, bad acting, and highly confusing plot points (like, why would you let your possessed girlfriend loose from her bonds, when the scaredy cat shaman you just hired hasn't finished helping her become a party of one). Despite the presence of the venerable Master Kosugi, the main thing this film dominates is a headache.