December 29, 2013

Movie Review: Revenge of the Ninja

There are times when I regret not getting into movies at a younger age. It's no ones fault, my parents were not big movie buffs and I would not have known where to begin. At the same time, there is no telling if my tastes would have developed properly at that young of an age. The good thing is that I did eventually discover the glory of the movies and my tastes are developing, coming into their own, and allowing me to discover and thoroughly enjoy movies such as Revenge of the Ninja, which show I need to expand further and see more Sho Kosugi movies.

Revenge of the Ninja arrived during the ninja craze of the 1980s and was the second of a three ninja movie cycle starring Kosugi for the Cannon Group. The first was Enter the Ninja and the last was Ninja III: Domination, all starring Kosugi but otherwise not connected. The movie was directed by Sam Firstenberg, who would direct Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo the following year, as well as a few other ninja flicks. The screenplay was written by James R. Silke who would also pen King Solomon's Mines and The Barbarians, the latter being for notorious Italian director Ruggero Deodato (Cannibal Holocaust).

As this movie gets going we see a family brutally slain by gang of ninjas. They sneak into the family compound and proceed to slaughter every man woman and child they encounter. It turns out the family belongs to Cho Osaki (Sho Kosugi). He chooses to leave Japan with his infant son (hidden during the ninja attack) and moves to America where he looks to leave the ninja life behind. He opens a shop selling imported Japanese dolls with his friend, Braden (Arthur Roberts). All is going well until Cho learns that Braden is using the dolls to import heroin.

This does not sit well with the honorable Cho, and things get worse when it is learned that Braden is a ninja himself and in league with the ninja clan that killed Cho's family. Then there is the nasty gangster Braden tries to double cross and the unpleasantness that goes with doing something like that.

That is about all the story there is, quite frankly, you really don't need much. What this movie exists to do is deliver ninja action, and that it does. This will never be considered a “great” movie, but I have learned that greatness is in the eye of the beholder, and when a movie delivers like this one does, it is likely to get called great now and again. We get to see Sho in all sorts of action, kicking butt with the ninjas in the opening segment, training with his blonde assistant (who wants to learn all his moves, if you know what I mean), we get to see him kicking ass against some thugs (which look like Village People rejects, with the presence of a cowboy and Native American) around and inside of a moving van, we even get to see his son (his real life son, Kane Kosugi) do a little butt kicking of his own.

Every moment of this movie is in a build up to see Cho battle his “friend” in ninja versus ninja style. Both sides don the traditional garb, load up with bad ass ninja weapons and take to the rooftops to do battle. This fight lasts almost one third of the movie and is pure cinematic bliss. Swords, chains, daggers, shurikens, smoke and flash bombs, and more are employed as they each try to gain the upper hand.

No one here will ever be considered a great actor, but Sho Kosugi has some great screen presence and definitely has the skills to be a worthy presence on the big screen. He is just a joy to watch and I really owe it to myself to watch some more of his work.

If you are looking for some B-level movie gold and enjoy some old school ninja action, Revenge of the Ninja is for you. There is no denying the entertainment factor here. It is action on top of action and it is free of modern cgi, it is action made with clever editing and guys who have the skills to pull it off in mostly believable fashion. You will not be disappointed.

Highly Recommended.

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