REVENGE OF THE NINJA (1983)
REVIEWS MOVIES\ NINJA' A FISTFUL OF MARTIAL ARTS MAYHEM\ REVENGE OF THE NINJA - DIRECTED BY SAM FIRSTENBERG, WRITTEN BY JAMES\ R. SILKE, STARRING SHO KOSUGI, KEITH VITALI, VIRGIL FRYE, ARTHUR ROBERTS,\ MARIO GALLO, GRACE OSHITA, ASHLEY\ FERRARE, KANE KOSUGI, AT THE PI ALLEY AND SUBURBS, RATED R.
Boston Globe - September 17, 1983
Author: Jay Carr Globe Staff
"This is no job for the police. Only a ninja can stop a ninja." That quote sums up " Revenge of the Ninja ," a brainless, but peppy, martial arts outing
from Golan-Globus, the people who gave us "Hercules."
This one is set in Salt Lake City, a possible first. An art dealer talks a ninja into bringing his mother and tiny son there after the rest of the family has been wiped out by a gang of bad ninjas in Tokyo.
When the dealer helps the ninja by whipping a pistol out of his pocket and gunning down a few heavies, his mother says: "I do not trust this man, my son."
Neither does anyone else in the theater, except the hero, an honorable type played by Sho Kosugi. He opens a gallery specializing in dolls which, unknown to him, are loaded with heroin. This brings the angry Mafia into the picture. Not only are they no match for a single ninja, but they're played with exceptional awfulness.
A ninja, by the way, is a killer who augments his knowledge of martial arts with lots of lethal gear. No self-respecting ninja would think of leaving the house without a suitcase full of dirks (throwing stars), swords, darts, shrapnel and other hardware.
The film's reason for being, no less than the ninja's, is killing.
Kosugi, helped for a while by a karate-wise cop (Keith Vitali), takes out virtually the entire population of Salt Lake City, with the possible exception of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, before his ultimate square-off against the Darth Vader-like art dealer in a volleyball court on the roof of a high-rise.
Ashley Ferrare provides decorative interludes, and Kane Kosugi, the hero's son in real life as well as the movie, is one cute little ninja.
" Revenge of the Ninja ," in short, contains all the blood-spattered violence you could hope for, unless you feel that transforming killing into an art form by introducing ballet and technology to it is perhaps a trifle decadent.
MOVIE: ' REVENGE OF THE NINJA ' IS ANOTHER MARTIAL-ARTS OFFERING
Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA) - September 19, 1983
Author: Rick Lyman, Inquirer Movie Critic
It would be hard to think up a genre more ridiculous than martial-arts movies.
Singing cowboys? The Bowery Boys? Blondie movies?
They don't even come close.
It's not that there's anything ridiculous about the martial arts - they've just been trashed by movie-makers hungry for a buck. It's just that everyone who has attempted to make a good, intelligent martial-arts movie has fallen on his face (John Frankenheimer's The Challenge is the most recent attempt). So instead we get cheap rip-offs of terrible originals.
I sometimes wonder what true martial-arts proponents, people who train for years to fine-tune their skills and their discipline, really think of these abominations. They should be howling mad.
One particularly silly offering, Revenge of the Ninja , opened Friday all over the area. Though it's a cut or so above most of the Hong Kong-made martial-arts junk, the difference is so slight, it hardly seems worth mentioning.
If you plan on wringing any enjoyment out of it, it might prove helpful to take a few karate chops to the head on the way into the theater.
The Ninja, in case you've been hiding in a shoebox for the last couple of years, is a 400-year-old Japanese sect of specially trained, nearly invincible assassins. They travel in packs, move like the wind and pounce like tigers. They know 1,000 ways to kill, we are told, though most of them seem to involve knives and other sharp instruments.
The point is, they're so tough they don't need hand grenades. They laugh at guns. A howitzer might shake their concentration, but only for a moment.
There have been Ninja books, Ninja movies; there's probably a Ninja candy bar.
A martial-arts movie stands or falls on the strength of its fight scenes. Usually the hero is called upon to defend himself against a dozen or so villains. He jumps over the top of them, twirls, lashes out, kicks them in the throat.
There's a goofy, ballet quality to most of the fight scenes in bad martial- arts movies - the characters move in slow motion and then lurch forward. It resembles fight scenes as Busby Berkeley would stage them, so overchoreographed they're reduced to the level of the ludicrous.
The fight scenes in Revenge of the Ninja are particularly phoney. Several times the hero is surrounded by a half dozen bad guys who are stupid enough to come at him one at a time.
They shoot an arrow at him - he catches it in his left hand. They shoot another arrow - he catches it in his right hand. They shoot another. What does he do? Why, catches it in his teeth, of course.
Our hero is Cho, a Tokyo resident who moves to Los Angeles to open a Japanese art store when Ninja assassins wipe out his family. (They'd have gotten him, too, but there were only 20 of them.)
Cho is himself a Ninja. "Most people think that Ninja are all bad," he says. "Not so."
In L.A., Cho hangs up his sword and goes into the art business. What he doesn't know is that his partner, Belden, is really an international heroin dealer using the art gallery as a front. And besides that, Belden is secretly a Ninja (a bad Ninja). Pretty soon even the Mafia is involved and it's chop, whack, powee!
The fights are phony, the sets are tacky and the lines are silly ("You cannot escape your karma, my son").
If there really are any Ninja out there, I have a pretty good idea who their next targets are going to be.
And believe me, it'll be no occident.
REVENGE OF THE NINJA
Produced by Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, directed by Sam Firstenberg, written by James R. Silke, photography by David Garfinkel, music by Rob Walsh, distributed by MGM/UA Entertainment Co.; running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes.**SINGLEG*Cho - Sho Kosugi
Jackson - Keith Vitali
Belden - Arthur Roberts
Kane - Kane Kosugi
Parents' guide: R (violence, nudity)