Ninja Terminator Review

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1985 – Not Rated – IFD Films and Arts
Starring Richard Harrison, Jang Lee Hwang – Directed by Godfrey Ho

Before we get into the review, let’s talk about what kind of movie Ninja Terminator is. If you’re thinking that it’s some kind of actual ninja terminator like that cyborg from Robocop 3, you’re way off. If you think it’s ninjas fighting a terminator, as awesome of an idea as that would be, it’s also incorrect, so stop guessing. It’s actually a hybrid of two different low budget movies and when I say that, I don’t mean it’s a mixed genre. Allow me to further explain.

There are all kinds of low budget film making techniques, some cheesier than others, but nothing takes the cake when it comes to Martial Arts B-Movie director Godfrey Ho. You see, Godfrey had such a cheap and quick method that it borderlines genius and schlock; To save money, he would film a small amount of new footage and later take another film he had already shot or owned, cut the two together, dub new dialogue so they tell the same story and there you go! A movie! Perhaps the best and cheesiest part about this method is the two films had little or nothing in common, but Godfrey always found a way to connect the two, usually by a telephone scene since the actors from both films obviously never meet on camera. Did it always work? Ehhh, kinda. Sometimes it can be a bit convoluted and confusing, but Ninja Terminator is pretty coherent… for the most part.

So here we are, somewhere in Asia (I think) as the evil Ninja Master of the infamous ninja empire (and you can tell he is the ninja master, because his GI is red so he blends in with… red things?), which is now evil, assembles the three parts of the Golden Ninja Warrior Statue to control its awesome power. He tells his henchmen to attack him, but their swords are powerless against him, now that he harnesses the wicked power of the Golden Ninja Warrior Statue. He laughs menacingly in that way only a poorly dubbed movie could pull off, “HA-HA-HA!” So you know it’s working effectively, which is fortunate for him.

One thing you may be asking yourself right now is, “Why do all the ninjas wear mascara?” And they wouldn’t answer you. They would suddenly appear behind you and spin kick you. How dare you ask such a stupid question.

However, three of the ninjas, Ninja Master Harry… yes, you heard right… Ninja Master Harry (Godfrey Ho regular Richard Harrison), Towne and Tamashi (these two guys are so obscure that even their character’s names aren’t listed on any Wiki entry or IMDB), each steal a piece of the statue and decide to keep them hidden from the evil ninja master, since he has become evil… EEEVVVIIILLL! As they flee the evil ninja fortress, they are attacked by ninjas doing cartwheels, but are easily defeated by Harry and the other two and they manage to escape.

Two years pass and Tamashi is immediately killed, which sucks because we knew his character for all of two seconds. Believing Tamashi’s sister may have his piece of the Golden Ninja Warrior Statue, Towne, who is now apparently corrupt and wants the statue all to himself, hires the sinister Tiger Chan to kidnap her. Tiger dresses like Rufus Shinra from Final Fantasy VII, in a white suit and for some odd reason, wears a woman’s blonde wig. Truly he is threatening! Also hearing of Tamashi’s passing, Harry hires the cocky Interpol agent Jaguar Wong, a man so smug that even George Clooney would tell him to tone it down, to protect her. There isn’t one scene where this guy isn’t chewing bubble gum, but dammit! He’s always kicks arse when he does! He’ll even put his hands in his pockets and kick you all over the place! Harry and Jaguar keep in contact via a Garfield telephone since they aren’t in the same movie, but still need help from each other.

Meanwhile, Towne and Harry are visited at their homes by ninjas, but these chumps are easily thwarted after our heroes jump into the air and spin and in a Sailor Moon fashion, instantly appearing in new ninja duds! Harry has a sweet tiger striped camo GI, by the way. They learn they are being targeted by the “Ninja Terminator” for their pieces of the statue. Speaking of, how’s Jaguar doing on protecting that girl?

After a couple dozen scenes of Jaguar chewing gum, smirking and drop kicking everyone (funny how none of these thugs think to bring a gun when they know they can’t beat him), turns out she was kidnapped and will be killed if the statue isn’t returned. Cut to some scenes of Harry fighting some ninjas, who have the power to teleport a couple feet. But later, Jaguar also happened to sort of kidnap Tiger’s right hand man’s girl and have sex with her where she shows off her… hairy armpits. But they once had a thing with and they want to exchange girls and get the statue, I think, but…

You know, for a plot that should be so simple, there is actually quite a lot going on and most of that is due to trying to make footage from another film fit into a ninja movie. This is where it really starts to get mixed up and can feel confusing, so fast forward past a few more scenes of Jaguar kicking people in the face, as Harry and Towne have it out with the Evil Ninja Master after they are delivered a message from a toy robot. Yes, that actually happens. Harry and Towne put aside their differences and agree to take out this threat in the final battle for total control over the Golden Ninja Warrior Statue!

Okay, so it may not be the best example of a balls to wall martial arts film, but the ninjas fighting in this is pretty cool, with the sharp and quick whip sounds with every punch and those generic ninja costumes are just so damn neat. No wire work here! This is back in the day when you had to hire actual martial artists to do your dirty work and it definitely shows. I don’t want to say that the fight choreography here is stellar, but it is pretty impressive. Richard Harrison and his awesome dad mustache kick some serious tail. This movie has everything you could want out of a ninja flick: Bad dubbing to the point where every character sounds similar, stolen music cues (I noticed the theme from A Clockwork Orange in there), exaggerated sound effects, magical abilities and at the end of it, the hero wins!

Do I recommend the film? Absolutely. It’s not completely incoherent and it’s a lot of fun. This is the kind of movie you can watch with your buddies and have a great time. If you want to see an excellent spoof on the Godfrey Ho martial arts films, check out Ninja: The Mission Force from Ed Glazer (the show also stars The Cinema Snob’s Brad Jones). Their love for these kind of films really shine through here, from cutting in other films, the bad dubbing, even right down to the Garfield phone. Anyway, I think I’ve said too much. I must pass this along to my ninja editor so he can ninja post it. It’s the ninja code.

The Lost Highway is trained in the art of cheese.

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