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The Wong Fei-hung Kung Fu Movie Review.

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Posted (edited)

Okay, I lied.

Yoshio Harada is pretty badass as modern day samurai, Ijuro Taked, but the parts of this movie where people aren't being lopped in half really suck.

The director does his best to show that Takeda's pride is his hubris and will lead to his downfall but when the Makato have their showdown with Takeda's army of classically taught Kenjutsu and Kyudo trainees, you just get the message the treachery > honor and that's really bad.

There is also a scene where John Lone, ninja pimp, is getting a bit of bath time pampering from his right hand ninja homegirl and a woman servant.  There were a couple of Korean girls in the audience that visibly swooned at Lone's hotness when I watched this in the theaters.  I don't think that Lone used a stunt ass in this production.

Edited by J.T.

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Wait... The Hunted is one of those "Hey Christopher Lambert is in this" movies and then half way through you suddenly wish it was Adrian Paul

James

 

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White Guy Ninja you say? 

 

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81Hv96UAfwL._SX679_.jpg

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It's fine to make points about cultural appropriation and all that. But Chuck Norris deserves some credit for keeping the Martial Arts film flame alive when it threatened to go out, at least in this country. Anyway, back in a few minutes with tonight's reviews.

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I was going to throw out what was going to be my bonus review that wasnt, but if new content is coming, I will wait. 

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Posted (edited)

 

NINJAPALOOZA DAY 2!!!!!!

 

Film: Five Elements Ninja

Picked by: nate

"I first saw this on USA Up All Night when I was in high school, but I fell asleep before I found out what the name was.  I searched every video rental joint in upper east Tennessee for this movie, based solely on the vibrant primary color-coded clothes worn by the titular elemental ninjas.  This led me to a whole lot of shitbag Godfrey Ho flicks.  But then the Wu Tang Clan put out a bunch of budget DVDs of Shaw Brothers flicks, and  y accident I saw this and all that searching was done.

It's a lot darker than I remembered it being, when I first saw it.  That one dude who trips over his own intestines (a blood soaked bandage, but suspend your disbelief ffs!)!  The one ninja who gets his limbs ripped off!  You want classic tropes?  You got 'em!  A kung-fu school master is killed!  A lone survivor has to train in secret to get his revenge!  Montage!  I liked that the path of the film plays a bait-and-switch, setting up one character as the possible heroic lead, only to see him killed midway through and a new student takes his place.  Classic Shaw Brothers/Venom Mob output, it was my gateway drug to even greater works."

Reviewed by: Raziel

So I had Five Element Ninjas, an 82 Shaw Bros flick with only ONE of the Venom Mob, but that's fine because Tien-Chi Cheng was the lead and was his usual awesome self.  This movie has the rep of being one of the best of the Shaw Bros series, and it lives up to the hype.  It straddles the line between serious and wacky, giving zero fucks about how the effects looked and just focused on people kicking each other's asses.  

Ok, deeper than that, the story revolved around the usual stuff for the Martial World, one school challenges another, the Hong school mops the floor with the Zeng School, but the Zeng's pull out a Samurai.  The Samurai beats the first Hong student and goads him into committing seppuku, as is the Samurai way.  For revenge, Sheng (played by Lo Mang of the Venom Mob), jumps in, fights the Samurai, beats him, and goads him into committing seppuku.  This sets off a chain of events that leads the Zeng's to enlisting the Elemental Ninja's for revenge, and violence ensues.  Eventually, Hong student Hao (Cheng) trains as a Ninja to seek revenge again and kill all the Ninja.  Really, there's a LOT of revenge in this flick.  
The fights are great, even if being by the numbers for a Shaw Bros movie.  However the addition of the Five Elements Ninja and fighting with the different elements lead to some neat things, like the Gold Light Ninjas and their hats, the Water Ninja's ridiculous jumps, the Earth Ninja's rapid digging and becoming trees.  This movie also features the fight where a Hong get's disemboweled, but the intestine slowly falls out while he's WINNING the fight, only to get stopped because he steps ON HIS OWN INTESTINE!  Don't worry, it's not "gory" as if it were done today and looked realistic, it's almost played for laughs.  But that was an amazing scene.

All in all, a great way to spend 90 minutes watching a classic that doesn't disappoint.

 

 

Film: Revenge of the Ninja

Picked by: Curt McGirt

"I'm not sure what channel it was on -- I want to say HDNet, before it became AXSTV, but one night I was channel surfing and here was some random karate flick on TV. Revenge of the Ninja, the guide said. I was good and beery and ready for whatever, so I started to watch... and I was BLOWN. AWAY. Now let me backtrack a bit: back when I was a kid I always looked at the box for the VHS of Pray for Death at the video store when I was a kid, with its gore on the back, and wanted to see that movie. When I finally got to, it was edited on USA and I was let down. This was everything I thought Pray for Death was gonna be. Sick ninja weapons, people getting chopped up, a crazy throwdown at the end of the film. And sure enough, when I looked it up, it starred the same guy, Sho Kosugi! I also found out that this was the second in a series of films starting with Enter the Ninja and followed by Ninja III: The Domination (which is apparently insanely ridiculous and I have yet to witness). Enter was fine, but this one is such a blast that I had to have somebody watch it for the project. Enjoy the violence! "

Reviewed by: AxB

Revenge of the Ninja, which is sort of the sequel to Enter the Ninja, but mostly isn't, because the Ninja who entered in the first movie is a different one to the Ninja who seeks revenge in this one. We begin in Japan, as a family happily enjoy a nice stand around in the garden. For about five seconds, as they are immediately slaughtered by a bunch of Ninjas (except the Baby, who is hidden under a bush). Then Cho Osaki (played by Sho Kosugi) shows up with his American friend and mashes up the Ninjas with ease, while the American shoots a couple of them with a gun and then just sort of disappears. So American Friend convinces Sho to move to America with him because Japan isn't safe - it's full of Ninjas. If you only move to America you'll never have to fight another Ninja again, so long as you live. This is a great plan. Literally nothing could possibly go wrong.

Six years later, here we are in Los Angeles, California (although the DVD box admits that it's actually Salt Lake City, Utah), and Sho is preparing to open an Art Gallery that displays Japanese Dolls. It isn't said why it took him six years to get around to it, or what he was doing for money that whole time - you could say that it doesn't matter because people don't watch these movies for the plots. But obviously someone involved in writing this one disagrees, because there's an awful lot of plot to it. A bunch of pre-teens attempt to bully the now six year old Kane on the way home from school, but he easily beats them up using Martial Arts skills. So his Dad agrees to teach him Ninjitsu. I'd assumed he'd already been teaching him, by the fact that he was using it to fight the bullies, but I guess he just learned that by osmosis or something. But Kane's lesson is interrupted by Cathy, who is being taught Karate (?) by Sho, but forgot to wear the bottom half of her Gi. She attempts to seduce Sho through the medium of grappling training, but he rebuffs her affections, which shows an awful lot of restraint for a guy who's wife died six years earlier. Maybe he's just not into blondes. Moving on...

So Kane accidentally breaks one of the dolls and loads of white powder spills out - it turns out it was a set-up all along and American Friend is using the Gallery as a front to smuggle heroin into America from Japan! Sidenote: Do they even make heroin in Japan? I thought it was mostly an Afghanistan thing. American Friend is also shagging Cathy, so I guess she's a heel too. Anyway, then he goes to visit the Mafia to ask for payment for the drugs he smuggled, and they want him to wait a few days. So he leaves, puts on a Ninja suit with a shiny demon mask (seems a bit odd that you would only armour your face, especially considering the eye holes are tiny. You'd have no peripheral vision at all in that thing), comes back and beats up the heavies. Snaps their legs and shit.

So the Mafia call the police (?) and an investigation begins. The police go an interrogate a Karate instructor, who puts them onto Sho, who denies knowing anything then gives himself away by catching a coffee cup without spilling a drop. So the Mafia Boss sends a bunch of goons to rob the gallery, and one of them is randomly dressed as the Native American member of the Village People. Sho gets to the Gallery right as they're leaving, beats them up (one of them has a fighting technique that consists of standing behind the person he's fighting and yelling "CAAM AAN! CAAAM AAAAN!" without actually attacking him at all) but Mr Cultural Insensitivity does a Balcony Dive with a wooden crate to slow Sho down enough for them to get in the van. So he chases the Van, jumps on, falls off, jumps over a few walls as a shortcut, jumps on the van again, does a pendulum Dropkick through the windscreen, mashes them up in the van, crashes it, beats them up on the road, then the last guy pulls a gun and shoots at him. Sho dodges, but guy manages to drive away, and even though Sho clings on to the back and is dragged along the street on his knees, eventually it crashes again and the broken door he was hanging onto falls off.

American Friend then shows up at the Gallery in his Demon Mask Ninja guise. The Dolls aren't there, so he kills Sho's Mother instead. Then Kane sees him through the skylight,  so they have a rooftop chase, and Kane gets away. See how I was saying there was a lot of plot? There's still a lot more of it. Sho comes back to fins his Mum dead and his Son missing, the police are no help at all, but the Karate Instructor offers to take him to see some ex-cons who might know about the Drug Trade. So they go to a children's play park, with all climbing frames and slides and rope nets and that, and here are for ex-cons, who are randomly dressed as... the other four members of the Village People! Not exactly, there's no construction worker, just a vaguely punk rock/NWOBHM looking dude. Sho asks what they know, they refuse to say anything, Sho smashes the table they're sitting on with one single kick and there begins an EPIC battle! I always wondered what the deal was with Ninjas using fans as weapons (hand fans, like you would use on a hot day. Not using fans as weapons in the Jordynne Grace sense of throwing people who support you at your enemies), but Sho twats Cowboy in the face with a fan and it shaves half of his moustache clean off! One hit! This fight is pretty nuts because with all of the kid's play apparatus, the stuntmen are happy to take ten foot bumps onto a rope net (or down a slide), and you can put the camera really low and gets the whole fall and landing in one shot and it looks gnarly as hell but it was probably a pretty safe fall really. Anyway, they didn't know anything and this whole scene happened more to explain why Sho wasn't still at the Gallery when Kane came back.

American Friend has used his mystical powers to hypnotize Cathy into working for him (even though she already worked for him. She was having reservations about things. Which feels unlikely considering she was fine with smuggling Heroin into the country, but I guess that's more of an abstract thing if you aren't personally involved with the junkies). So she goes to the Gallery, tries to persuade Kane to come with her, he refuses, and we get a full on fight scene between a six year old boy and a grown-ass woman. Which the boy wins. But then she just picks him up and carries him out, which makes you wonder why she tried to beat him up first. She takes him back to American Friend, who gets Professor Toru Tanaka (looking uncannily like Post Malone) to hold them hostage while he goes after Mafia Boss. But while he's getting ready, the hypnotism wears off and Cathy phones Sho to tell him how Kane is kidnapped, and AF is off to kill the Mafia. AF walks in and has Tanaka hold Cathy hostage too. He ties her up in a hot tub, wearing a thin white shirt that goes see-through as soon as it's wet, whilst Kane is tied up in a Sauna.

So Sho, with the knowledge that his kidnapped son is in one location, whilst his arch rival is headed to a final showdown with the Mafia, decides fuck it, Kane can rescue himself, I'm off to a Ninja Battle! Karate Instructor wants to come, but Sho says No! Only a Ninja can stop a Ninja~! But first, I must tool up all my ninja shit, and at this moment it becomes clear why AF wears the Demon Mask. It's because Sho's Ninja Suit is also black. Usually these things come down to Black Ninja vs White Ninja, but in this movie it's Demon Ninja vs Human Ninja. Karate Instructor (who apparently is actually a police officer now, or was all along and I missed it) shows up, takes out the six mafioso with machine guns who were guarding the front door, and is then killed by Demon Mask. Mafia Boss goes down pretty bloody easy as well. And then the final Battle happens on the rooftop, and it's pretty epic. Except for the bits that reminded me of the Edge vs Kane backstage brawl with all the fake Paul Bearers, and that Demon Mask apparently has teleportation powers at points. But do you know what's better than a stick with a sword hidden inside it? A stick with a sword hidden inside it, with a knife hidden inside the sword handle!

All in all, this movie is utterly ridiculous. In a good way. Strong recommendation to seek it out, if you haven't seen it already. Also, it has boobs.

BONUS REVIEW!!! 

Film: Ninja 3: The Domination

Picked & Reviewed by: AxB

The actual movie that was picked for me was Revenge of the Ninja (which most likely everyone knows because probably my review of that got posted before this one). So I figured might as well buy it because I'm not a screamer. But the best deal was for the full trilogy box set, so I got that, figuring I could review all three of them (not having seen any of them before). Having watched the three, I wish I'd just got Revenge and ignored the other two. They're all three kind of hokey and ridiculous, but Revenge has all this awesomeness mixed in, that kind of overwhelms the hokeyness and makes that also awesome. The first and third, yeah, not really.

Up to this point in the Ninja series, Ninjas have been excellent fighters with stealth skills, climbing ability escapology and parlour tricks like flash powder and smokebombs. Suddenly they also have magical powers of telekinesis and mind control, and the ability to reanimate the dead or something. It's like they thought "Well, people really like Ninja movies, but they also liked supernatural themed movies like Ghostbusters and The Exorcist. So let's combine the two!" - making them probably the only people in the world that think Ghostbusters is in any way similar to The Exorcist.

Sho Kosugi is top billed as the star, but he's only really featured in the second half (and only becomes a main character in the final act; He's kind of a peripheral figure when he first shows up. Lucinda Dickey is the actual top star. Her character is a telephone engineer who is also an aerobics instructor, who gets possessed by a dying evil ninja and has a romance with a creepy cop because he stalks her until she loves him. It's odd how the pacing of all three Ninja movies is set up so there's a big action sequence at the start, one at the end, and the middle is kind of slow - but in Revenge it was a slow build towards a climactic battle, whilst in Domination it was just a bunch of scenes where things happened. And the action is notably less spectacular than in the prior movie as well. And I don't think I've ever seen a movie that went so deep into it's runtime before it established who was the heel and who was the face. We see a Ninja assassination with no explanation as to who he killed and why, and then we see the Ninja kill a bunch of cops while he tries to escape, but he's fatally wounded. Then he possesses someone and sends them to take revenge on the cops for killing him, but the cops he's killing are kind of portrayed as obnoxious arseholes, so we the audience don't know if we're supposed to be cheering on their demises or hoping someone could please put a stop to this horror. And they never say the weapons are poisoned, but I guess they must be, because that's the lowest amount of blood loss for someone bleeding to death* I've ever seen. Just a tiny trickle and they're passed out. Did someone up the price of fake blood in 1984, and Cannon refused to increase the blood budget to compensate?

I was going to go on a riff on if the title was in any way an attempt to draw in the BDSM community, but it was the 80s and that scene was a lot less mainstream then, so probably not. Although there actually is a fair bit of handcuffing and tying up going on in the movie, so maybe that was the idea. Never mind. Sho Kosugi's character wears an eyepatch made from a Katana crossguard, that's pretty cool. 

* Maybe watching The Raid 2 spoiled me. You know how there's like 12 pints of blood in the (male) human body? When someone bleeds to death in the Raid 2, looking at all the blood on the floor, all the blood on the walls and ceiling, all the blood on the clothes and all the blood in every bit of furniture in the room, yeah, I could buy that as being more than ten pints. 

 

 

Edited by Execproducer
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And my brand new (refurbished) pc is in. Thanks @RIPPA for covering those two days.

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When I think of Lucinda Dickey I think of both Ninja 3: The Domination and Breaki (not so much for Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo)

Ninja 3 was the fuckin movie everyone had to borrow from this kid named Robbie in my elementary school. Once all of our parents got us VCRs, It was non-stop trading of Ninja 3, First Blood and and any number of Faces of Death tapes

James

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The thing from Ninja 3 I didn't put in the review was how being possessed by a Ninja somehow increased Lucinda Dickey's libido. Because heightened libido really wasn't a thing in the first two (maybe the first one a bit, but that was probably Franco Nero refusing to make the movie unless he got a sex scene... with his character's best friend's wife). But in the second one, neither Ninja seems to have any kind of supercharged sexual appetite. Quite the opposite. But as soon as we get a white girl Ninja (is the movie super sexist in that men have to train for years to become Ninjas, whilst a woman can learn it all just through being possessed by a vengeful spirit?) suddenly Ninja training makes you perma-hot and bothered. Unless the evil spirit was excited about finally inhabiting a female body and wanted to know if sex felt different with the alternative anatomy.

I am overthinking this quite excessively.

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The guys at We Hate Movies recently did Ninja 3 and they were blown away that the majority of them hadn't seen it and they all fuckin loved it. If How Did This Get Made ever reviews it I'm sure Manzoujkas will lose his mind!

James

 

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Seeing how both Enter the Ninja and Ninja III came up, I know why Exec went with Merantau for my pick instead of Revenge of the Ninja.

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19 minutes ago, Raziel said:

Seeing how both Enter the Ninja and Ninja III came up, I know why Exec went with Merantau for my pick instead of Revenge of the Ninja.

Revenge wasn't one of the three options you gave me.

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8 minutes ago, Execproducer said:

Revenge wasn't one of the three options you gave me.

Shit, right, I have Pray for Death... which is essentially Revenge with different characters.

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True. I think the deciding factor for going with Merantau was accessibility. 

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18 hours ago, J.T. said:

To this day, I think that is the reason I love the really awful Sho Kosugi film, Revenge of the Ninja, because the villain is a white guy by design.  He's really skilled and the climactic ninja fight is balls out campy in a good way, but you know that Sho is going to eventually sever this guys frick from his frack.

Aw man, I read this and felt like "shit, I picked something that the resident Martial Arts oracle of the board doesn't even like". Glad that AxB enjoyed it. I was actually gonna buy it on DVD but chickened out for whatever reason (price was an issue that week). 

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Posted (edited)

I love Sho Kosugi. Whether the Ninja Trilogy, showing up on The Master or having a showdown with his son on Kakuranger... Sho Kosugi is the fuckin man!

James

Edited by J.H.
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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, Execproducer said:

It's fine to make points about cultural appropriation and all that. But Chuck Norris deserves some credit for keeping the Martial Arts film flame alive when it threatened to go out, at least in this country. Anyway, back in a few minutes with tonight's reviews.

Well, my issues were with the Westernization of the Ninja genre in general.  I fucking love Chuck Norris.

Not only did he do his best to keep the MA film alive, he was also brave enough to go the experimental route when martial arts was being cross pollinated with other genre in order to keep the martial arts genre going in some form or fashion.

The martial arts / slasher / sci-fi movie hybrid, Silent Rage, is one of my all time guilty favorites.

You don't get movies like Drive if there is no movie like Silent Rage that shows that there is money to be made by infusing martial arts action into other arenas.  That's why I feel that Silent Rage is a very significant watershed event in martial arts cinema.

Edited by J.T.
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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Curt McGirt said:

Aw man, I read this and felt like "shit, I picked something that the resident Martial Arts oracle of the board doesn't even like". Glad that AxB enjoyed it. I was actually gonna buy it on DVD but chickened out for whatever reason (price was an issue that week). 

Revenge of the Ninja is pretty bad, but it is also campy in every best way possible.. 

I love the fights and I always make fun of Sho for wearing copious amounts of eye liner to accentuate his features when he's wearing a ninja hood.

I nearly lost my shit when I saw that Sho was the bad guy in Ninja Assassin.   I love that big dumb action movie and Sho as grizzled and cruel veteran ninja master villain is fucking metal.

Five Element Ninja Is Number One And The Best.

Edited by J.T.
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16 minutes ago, J.T. said:

Well, my issues were with the Westernization of the Ninja genre in general.  I fucking love Chuck Norris.

I had planned to throw out a few mini essays related to some of these reviews, but my pc kicking the bucket put the kibosh on that. One of them would have been about the importance of Norris in the history of Martial Arts films. I think that without him, we don't get to where we are today.  From Breaker! Breaker! on he had a big hand in how his films were made and distributed. He knew his limitations and wisely made sure he was surrounded by good actors. He knew the character he wanted to present but, as you say,  he wasn't afraid to tweak the formula. I was a fan probably all the way up to Delta Force where I think I grew out of him and have only seen Firewalker and Hero and the Terror since then and I've never seen Walker, Texas Ranger.

Without his success from the late 70's to the early 80's I doubt we get Van Damme or Seagal or a ton of b-movies that we all cherish today and I'm not even sure we get Jackie Chan's American breakthrough in the 90's. 

 

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Posted (edited)

You also have to include Missing In Action in there somewhere even thought the bullets to crescent kick ratio favors gunfights over fist fights.

Edited by J.T.

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Just now, Execproducer said:

Saw the first two. Haven't seen #3.

You didn't miss anything.  3 was the weakest of the series by a large margin.

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I regret not doing a bonus review for Circle of Iron, but that would neccesitate me watching circle of Iron. Now, if I did one for Steel Dawwn, that would be a different can of worms altogether!

I think Delta Force was the point that Norris movies started getting very meh. Hell Dolph Lundgren was more bleeivable as martial arts badass in  Showdown in Little Tokyo. I think I stopped digging on Norris films after The Octagon (which got tons of replay on WPIX in NYC).

James

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6 minutes ago, J.H. said:

I think Delta Force was the point that Norris movies started getting very meh. Hell Dolph Lundgren was more bleeivable as martial arts badass in  Showdown in Little Tokyo. I think I stopped digging on Norris films after The Octagon (which got tons of replay on WPIX in NYC).

Silent Rage will rekindle your love for Chuck Norris.  His form in the fight scenes is unbelievably crisp. 

I think you'd have to wait for Sidekicks to see Norris throw prettier kicks than the ones he batters bad guys with in Silent Rage.

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