Transgender Magic Ninja Zombies!
- Ninja 3: The Domination review by Count Otto Black
In 1980 hardly anybody outside Japan knew what a ninja was. In 1981 the unashamedly trashy Cannon studio changed all that with their ramshackle but very profitable B-movie "Enter The Ninja", starring a middle-aged Italian who used to make spaghetti westerns as a very unlikely good ninja, and the previously unknown Shô Kosugi as a much more convincing bad ninja. Naturally a sequel followed in 1983, though in "The Revenge Of The Ninja" Shô Kosugi, the most plausible ninja actor in the business, was wisely made the hero. And when that film made money, though not as much as the first one because the novelty had worn off, inevitably Cannon had to churn out another sequel that tried to revitalise the already tired franchise by taking it in an incredibly ill-advised new direction. Hence this utterly barking mad tale of an evil ninja who returns from the grave by possessing the body of an increasingly bewildered female aerobics instructor. As you do.
This should be one of the all-time classic stupid movies, and if it was a little better-made in certain ways it would be. I mean, we're treated to, amongst other things: one ninja taking on most of the LAPD, including a helicopter, and damn near winning; a spectacularly unsuccessful Chinese exorcism involving a big-haired eighties girlie in chains; an arcade game that emits magic laser beams at the bidding of a ninja poltergeist; and an epic showdown in which we discover that earthquakes are caused by ninja zombies. What's not to like about that?
Alas, rather a lot. Top-billed Shô Kosugi, who had by now become the actor of choice for anyone wanting to make anything involving ninjas and had his own TV series, obviously couldn't spare as much time as Cannon needed him for, or cost too much, or both, because he's hardly in most of the movie. It's half an hour before we even catch a glimpse of him, and almost an hour before he does anything that matters. Instead, after the action-packed yet oddly lifeless opening battle with the police which kills the bad guy's physical body, we spend far too much time with some totally untalented lady in a leotard who gets possessed and understandably doesn't know what to make of it, and even worse, her waste-of-space boyfriend, who makes her look like a good actress and has the charisma of a cat litter tray. Once in a while she dresses up in her pyjamas of doom and throws jaggy things, but nowhere near often enough.
The scenes of all the bizarrely useless objects in our heroine's apartment ganging up on her by magic, which ought to be hilariously surreal, are as flatly directed as the fights, during which I kept wondering why the hell ninjas wear eye-liner instead of paying attention to who was punching who because that seemed more important. As for the plot, well basically, dead ninjas have whatever superpowers the scriptwriter has just thought of, the possessed leotard lady with the big hair is confused, her slimy creep of a boyfriend is more confused, nobody can act, and Shô Kosugi is late to the party but sorts it all out by hitting people. Oh, and there's shedloads of that eighties music that sounds as dreadful as the dreck we put on cinema soundtracks now because it's trendy will sound in thirty years.
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