Sunday, October 27, 2013

Ninja III: The Domination

There is nothing quite like Ninja III: The Domination (1984).  It's basic formula can be broken down as this:  ninjas + possession + revenge killings x the 80s ÷ aerobics = amazing. Unless there is another supernatural-ninja-aerobics movie out there, I don't think you or I are ever going to see a better supernatural-ninja-aerobics movie.

In case you need further convincing, Here's 10 Reasons You Should Check Out Ninja III: The Domination

1.  The Amazing Opening:  Ninja Golf Course Massacre

Ninja III is packed with wall to wall action and the first ten minutes is the most jam packed of them all.  After a mysterious and heavily eyelinered ninja retrieves his ninja gear from a ninja mountain cave, he proceeds to stalk and massacre a bunch of polo shirt 80s jerk-looking guys (and one woman) on a golf course, all in broad daylight, no less.

He crushes a golf ball right in front of one dude's face and then he lifts a golf cart (partially) off the ground with one hand.  After that he runs from the police, jumps over a car, climbs a palm tree, jumps onto a helicopter, and then dives into a lake, all while kicking, punching, stabbing, slashing, and throwing ninja stars into people.  It might just be the most important ten minutes in cinema history*.

*Not really, but check out these screenshots!

Also, I of course gotta mention that there's some squealing tires on dirt when the police are chasing Eyeliner Ninja because of course this is the kind of movie that would have that.
After the police gun the ninja down, he stumbles away after a smoke bomb diversion and manages to catch the attention of telephone repairwoman Christie (Lucinda Dickey, star of Breakin' and Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo) who he then transfers all his ninja prowess and powers to via his now possessed sword.  The rest of the movie involves Christie getting revenge on the cops who killed Eyeliner Ninja and it is just as awesome as the opening ten minutes.

2.  Floating Glowing Sword

This sword floats!  It glows!  And it's also possessed by an evil ninja spirit!  What fun!

3.  Aerobics!
This film is drenched in 80s-ness, from the clothes and hair, the music, the decor of Christie's apartment, the arcade game that shoots lasers out of it, the neon, etc, etc, but the most 80s thing in Ninja III has got the be all the aerobics action.  Christie is not only a telephone repairwoman, but she also teaches an aerobics class and seems to workout when feeling stressed about all this possession business.  Basically, what I'm saying is that leotards and leg warmers are a motif in this film.

4.  Flashdance + The Exorcist + Poltergeist

Ninja III is the kind of movie that is an equal opportunity opportunist, stealing ideas from a variety of sources.  This movie really is the sum of its parts.  As pointed out above, aerobics is a part of the larger package, and Christie's aerobics instructor/telephone repairwoman career path is her version of Alex's steel mill welder/exotic dancer double career move in Flashdance (1983).  Also, leg warmers.

All movies that deal with possession are a little indebted to The Exorcist (1973), Ninja III being no exception.  This comes across mostly in the attempted-exorcism/spirit conjuring scene with James Hong (Big Trouble in Little China [1986]) as Miyashima, which causes Christie to flip out (literally), scream in a voice not her own, spit smoke in Miyashima's face, levitate him, and have her complexion change.  You know, just the usual possession stuff...

Not resting on its laurels, Ninja III also has a scene that is a fairly blatant attempt to recreate the closet-sucking scene from Poltergeist (1983), but to much, much less effect (although, in the same scene, the possessed sword slashes her stereo in half, and that was pretty cool).

5.  V-8 Juice:  Aphrodisiac

This shit made no sense.  Is this the possession talking or is she just a weirdo?  I guess the director, Sam Firstenberg, came up with this idea while on the set...  In that case, I gotta ask, what the hell, man?

6.  The Hairy-Man Beast, Billy

So who is Christie seductively pouring V-8 down her body for?  Well, it's her pushy cop boyfriend, Billy Secord (Jordan Bennett), who would be considered the lead male actor of the movie (non-ninja class).  He's mostly notable for being absolutely one of the hairiest men ever in motion pictures (he's right up there with Robin Williams).  He's kind of a doof, but I guess he's well meaning.  Totally pushy, though.

7.   The Awesome Dialogue

Movies like this have a way with words.  Get a load of these quotables:

First, in the straight truth department...
"Only a ninja. . . can destroy a ninja."

and in the villainous taunt department...
Christie (possessed by evil ninja):
"HaHaHaHa!  You fools!  You cannot stop me!  I am a ninja!  No one and nothing can stop me!"

and in the "wait,what?" department...
A Doctor, speaking to Christie:  
"Medically, you're a very fit young woman.  No evidence of any abnormality in the brain, no tumor, you have a strong heart, your diet is better than average.  You are under severe stress, of course, but otherwise doctor Bowen, the psychiatrist you saw, says there's nothing out of the ordinary.  Aside from your exceptional extrasensory perception and your preoccupation with Japanese culture.  No harm in that!"

Oh, Ninja III, I think I might love you.

8.  Eye Patch Ninja, Shô Kasugi

You know this is a serious ninja movie with Shô in town.  Well, maybe not serious, but he does add a bit of legitimacy to the piece as Yamada, the sworn enemy of the evil Eyeliner Ninja.  A movie like this needs some ninja vs. ninja action, and we get that in the form of a sword duel in a temple and also on a mountain top.  Pretty cool stuff.

His eyepatch is 100% badass.

Shô was one of the faces of the (all too brief) 1980s ninja craze and was a trained martial artist and a highly skilled practitioner of weapons.  He starred in the other two (and unrelated) films in this ninja series, Enter the Ninja (1981) and Revenge of the Ninja (1983), as well as Pray for Death (1985), Rage of Honor (1987), and early Jean-Claude Van Damme entry, Black Eagle (1988).

9That Cannon Films Flavor!

Leaders in the VHS revolution of the 1980s, The Cannon Group, ran by Israeli cousins Manehem Golan and Yoram Globus, seemed to specialize in exploiting all and any 80s trends and fads; Vietnam action movies (Missing in Action [1984]), slashers (New Years Evil [1980]), breakdancing (Breakin' [1984]), Charles Bronson pics (10 to Midnight [1983], the Death Wish sequels), Van Damme awesomeness (Bloodsport [1988] AND Kickboxer [1989]), arm wrestling (Over the Top [1987]), and of course, ninja movies.

Most of their output was low budget and made to turn a quick profit, but they did manage to put some of their money behind some talented filmmakers when they produced Barbet Schroeder's first American film Barfly (1987, starring Mickey Rourke in one of his best roles), Neil Jordan's second feature The Company of Wolves (1985), and Tobe Hooper's Lifeforce (1985) and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986).

Cannon Films... there's something about them.  The analogy I drew up is that they are akin to a ham and cheese sandwich.  Something that is enjoyable, has very basic elements, and can very easily be snazzed up.  Mmmmmmmm..... that Cannon Film flavor..

10.  The Movie Trailer!

Some of that wonderful flavor comes across in this trailer.  If this doesn't convince you that you need to see this movie, nothing will.  This video is VHS quality, which makes it VHSupercool:
Ninja III: The Domination, what else is there to say?  SEE IT!

Ninja III: The Domination is now available on BluRay/DVD combo from the fine folks over at Scream Factory.  It's a great looking disc; I need to snag myself a copy.  You should too.

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