Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ninja III: The Domination (1984)
Dir. Sam Firstenberg
Genre: Action/Martial Arts/Horror

"...I feel like there's something making me do things, things I don't want to do."

Before you feel the need to catch up on the franchise (and you will), this film is not the third installment of a continuing storyline.  Rather, it is the third film in a series of movies made by the same director with the word "ninja" in the title, Enter the Ninja, Revenge of the Ninja, starring or co-starring Sho Kosugi ("famed" martial artist/actor of the 80's) who plays three different characters in each.  Directed by Sam Firstenberg, the visionary behind the American Ninja film series as well as Breakin' and Breakin' 2: Electric Bugaloo, Ninja III: The Domination tells the story of seasoned vengeful ninja who is murdered all kinds of dead by a pack of cops who chase him down and shoot him several hundred times after witnessing him murder some rich white people on a golf course.  I'll be honest, immediately, I was on the side of the ninja guy.  It takes some rock hard ninja balls to ninja kill a yuppie on a golf course in front of his entire Italian security team in broad daylight only using a bendy wendy sword and ninja magic.  Balls. 

A true ninja knows how to do the perfect 'Egyptian eye.'
The movie literally starts with the ninja walking into a cave, pulling out some ninja gear from a illuminated rock closet, then appearing on a golf course full of yuppies whom he quickly begins to dispatch with ninja kills for who knows why, the reason behind this is never explained.  Perhaps it was a tie-in from Revenge of the Ninja, but I doubt it.   You can watch epic and inspirational first scene below.  It will change your life (maybe)!

"God I'm good looking."
After the 653rd bullet to the ninja's chest cavity, he realizes he is going to ninja die.  Thankfully, a naive nubile aerobics instructor who moonlights as a telephone company employee, Christie Ryder (Breakin's Special K, Lucinda Dickey), just so happens to be repairing a phone pole near the shoot out.  The ninja knows a body possession opportunity when he sees one.  He moans and drags his bleeding body under Christie's telephone pole, getting her attention and working off her natural female nurturing instincts (this is why we can't put ladies on the front lines, right fellas?).  She rushes over to help him and is thanked with some shouting words in Japanese, a ninja sword and the soul of a angry, dead, vengeful ninja man inside of her.  Sexy.  After being possessed by the ninja, Christie goes on to date a rapey hairy cop, attempt to be exorcised by James Hong and kills a lot of the fuzz that shot down the ninja inside of her.  Also, she works out.  A lot.  Eventually a different ninja in an eye patch shows up from Japan (Sho Kosugi) because turns out, "...only a ninja can destroy a ninja" or at least according to James Hong.  Check out the trailer below.

Christie is given the ninja magic stick.
Ninja III manages to fuse romance, horror, ninjas, the 80's, aerobics, AND action.  Quite a feat, well, not really, but quite a feat for a film that manages to do all these things and still be completely watchable and what I like to consider, a B-movie turd made of pure turd gold!  I could go on and on about how much I loved this poo nugget, but instead I'll just share some of the five best of the worst moments of Ninja III: The Domination

5. DisHonoring Asian Culture 

I don't think anyone would watch this film (especially with a white lady on the cover) and assume any and all Japanese references would be culturally accurate, but it's always a delightful surprise when not only is a film inaccurate, but entertainingly racist racially insensitive.  First of all, in case you were wondering whether or not each Asian character received culturally inaccurate intro music also known as the Asian warning gong bell, don't worry, it happens.  When Christie starts to worry she may be going insane, you know, due to all her recent blackouts and mysterious bruises, she at first seeks help from a psychologist.  After what I only assume is a shit loads of tests, she is told by a someone in the psychologist office:

Psychologist Secretary: "...Don't worry.  The psychologist you saw says you're absolutely normal, besides your excellent extra sensory perception and your preoccupation with Japanese culture.  No harm in that, right?" 

Obvious racial profiling.
I get the "extra sensory perception" thing being kind of weird, but "preoccupation with Japanese culture?"  I know this can be a problem for white people, (I did work at a comic book store once and don't get me started on the Hentai, Yaoi porn section) but the comment just seemed really weird in this context.  You're not crazy, other than liking Japanese stuff a lot.  She doesn't seem to mention Japanese culture whatsoever in the movie other than owning a shitty pawn shop samurai sword so I'm not sure how they come to this conclusion.  Unless they know about her late night ninja antics, which in that case, she is not only a crazy shapely possessed killer, but also a pretty shitty ninja. 

After her initial clinical diagnosis failure, a police officer "closely" following her case assures her that he knows someone who can help.  A psychiatric specialist maybe?  A behavioral scientist?  A really good yoga instructor?  No.  He tells her:

Officer Seacord: "...There's an officer in the Asiatic division - he knows a lot of stuff about Japanese culture."

Who knew you could go to college and major in Japanese history and land yourself a steady desk jockey spot as part of your local police unit?  The person turns out to be an Asian guy which I guess makes sense, but they also could have made up the unit itself just to be dicks and get him out of the break room.  Either way, is anyone else with me on what the fuck is with the title, "Asiatic?"

4. Casual Dismissal of Rapey Behavior

There a several moments in this movie involving a hairy-shouldered police officer named Billy Seacord that I just don't understand and trust me, it's not because I have a lot of self esteem.  After Christie is initially possessed, (insert sexual pun here...wait, too late) she is taken to the local police station to discuss what she saw during the shoot out and what the dying ninja might have told her.  She claims to know nothing and that he was dead when she found him (LIES).  During her questioning, she is creepily approached by a sort of young incredibly hairy-handed police officer who fails at flirting, a lot.  She shoots him down several times.  He offers her a soda which she turns away by saying, "...Thanks, but I don't use soft drinks."  He follows that fail with invitations for hamburgers and or a pizza dinner.  Not surprisingly she responds by telling him each of those things is disgustingly unhealthy.  He, still in police uniform currently on duty as a city official, continues to openly sexually harass her by insisting she go out with him because, you know, she's pretty.  As she walks out, he even grabs her shoulder at one point and she slaps it away telling him to back off and, "...I don't date cops!"  At this point, I think most guys would have figured out this wasn't going anywhere, but luckily for Christie's vagina and her shower drain, Billy doesn't think no means no.  He calls her at home (weird, I don't think she gave him her number) and she tells him once again to fuck off.  Then he shows up at her aerobics class, which he presumably knew about using city-funded police investigative tools.  Instead of being more creeped out, she is charmed by this stalking behavior. 

The best rapey dismissal happens directly after her class when she is interrupts the rape in progress of one her students by a group of sweaty buff dudes in sweats.  Although there are several people standing around, including Billy WHO IS A COP, Christie is the only one who intervenes.  The gang bang group are offended by this and began to knock Christie around presumably deciding she is their new rape victim.  At this point, a crowd has formed which includes Billy, who stand around and DO NOTHING.  What the fuck mob mentality?  Maybe some teenagers at a rave, but middle-aged rape mob outside of a gym in the middle of the day when one of you owns a licensed firearm?  Christie holds her own though which we're not sure is all her or partly old-man ninja inside of her related.  Luckily, she manages to fend off all the rapists and gives them somewhat of a decent martial arts inspired ass-kicking.  How does Billy respond to this?  Does he attempt to intervene?  No.  Does he attempt to arrest or detain the would-be rapists?  No.  Does he even ask her if she's okay?  No.  HE FUCKING ARRESTS HER.  Really.  He tells her to get into his car and he's taking her to the station.  As they're driving, he admits he isn't really arresting her, but he just wanted to have her come with him.  She threatens to jump out of the car to which he replies:

Billy: "...Look Christie, I'm just trying to help.  You could have been charged with assault for what you did to those guys back there."

What?  For kicking potential rapists in their rapey balls?  Should she just of gotten raped so the rest of the film could be about the her and Billy growing closer as he helps Christie find her inner strength and realize she can learn to trust and love again?  No, because that movie has been made, it's called High Kicks and it's fucking amazing.  Anyway, I swear that every few minutes this scene dragged on, I was so sure he was seriously going to try and rape her which would end in hopefully his hairy dick being stabbed with a ninja sword.  Alas, what actually happens is she tells him to go back to her place and then has sex with him.  Yeah.  No words at this point...but if I had them, they would be about how much I hate/love this ridiculous movie.   

3. The Exorcism of James Hong

Prolific character actor James Hong, who has been playing Asian stereotypes in films since the 1950's, (you may know him as "Lo Pan" in Big Trouble in Little China) has a small part in Ninja III, but it's arguably one of the best characters in the film.  Hong plays Miyashima, a wise old Asian guy that the officer from that "Asiatic" division referred Billy and Christie to.  When Christie enters Miyashima's place and they begin discussing demons and spirits, she says:

Christie: "...This sure beats the Rocky Horror Picture Show."

"Your mother sucks ninjas in hell!"
True statement based on real events.  Miyashima can sense the old ninja man inside Christie and attempts an exorcism (heavy on the bondage) to remove the vengeful spirit.  This turns out to be a bad move since it really pisses off the ninja and scares the shit out of Miyashima who realizes that the dead spirit is that of a powerfully evil ninja seeking revenge against those cops that shot him to shit after he murdered people.  The exorcism scene itself is pretty amazing.  Christie is bound in leather straps in some sort of S&M set up.  When Miyashima attempts to exorcise the spirit, which involves chanting and smoke, Christie goes full on Linda Blair (sort of), turning pale white, being bathed in green lighting and smoke machines and the best part, begins to spin wildly around on her leather binds.  As in, actually spin upside down like a gymnast on a talcum powdered bar.  She starts flipping full circles so fast it becomes clearly obvious that they are using a dummy at one point.  Yes!  She then delivers this brilliant line:

Christie/Ninja: "...You fool!  You can not stop me!  I am the ninja!  No one, nothing can stop me!"

Fair enough.  After a quasi-pathetic intervention by Billy, Christie finally comes to, of course not remembering a single thing.  Miyashima refuses to continue the exorcism because he does not believe he will be able to battle the spirit.  He tells Billy:

If he had only seen it coming.
Miyashima: "...Only a ninja can destroy a ninja."

If this sounds epic, it is and don't worry, it happens.

2. The "Twilight" of Ninja Films

"I...have...the power!"
Ninja III: The Domination handles ninja lore sort of in the same vein that the Twilight movie series represents vampires, where they throw out established history, common knowledge and basic human logic and instead just make shit up.  In Ninja III, not only are ninjas invincible and only vulnerable to other ninjas (unless they are shot several hundred times by police bullets, PLOT HOLE!), they also transfer their souls to other bodies and run around and attack in the daylight with no cover and no sneak approach.  Why be subtle when you can just go balls to the wall?  This has been my problems with ninjas this whole time! 

"What Bouncer says, Christie do."
The ninja also gets very poltergeisty and starts levitating and flying things all over Christie's apartment.  Besides the cliche pots and pans, the spirit even uses Christie's arcade game to hypnotize her into his ninja bidding.  Every time she tries to resist, the ninja sword given her to at the beginning, shakily levitates out of her closet over to her.  I guess this is a He-man/Highlander reference.  Actually, probably not.  Anyway, the magic stick sword seems to be what jump starts every ninja attack by Christie against the police officers responsible for the ninja shooting.  Oh ninja magic, you get me every time!  Christie responds to all this ninja mind fuckery by telling Billy:

Christie: "...I feel like there's something making me do things.  Things I don't want to do."

Turns out, the dialogue is also on par with the Twilight series, or at least what I saw of the second one anyway and probably just like Ninja III, you don't really need to watch the previous ones to understand the storyline. 

1. Lucinda "Special K" Dickey

"Oh hey guys, yeah I just got back from my Fight Club."
Lucinda Dickey, better known for her role as Special K in the Breakin' movies, is really what sold me on renting this movie.  I knew about the ninja golf course attack, ensuing ninja possession and exorcism, but the real seller was seeing Special K in all her 80's glory on the VHS cover.  She has played some awesome characters in some of my favorite shitty films including the mascot from Cheerleader Camp, the aforementioned Special K and well, this movie.  She didn't really do much else besides a Perry Mason T.V. movie, but really, you can only stretch the whole a dancer/aerobics instructor character so far past 1989. 

"Let me just slip into something more tomatoey.."
Besides her several unnecessary work out montages in Ninja III, by far her very best scene involves a can of V8.  Remember all those times previously that Christie makes a point to turn down unhealthy treats and stimulants such as soda and coffee?  Well, besides this helping to establish the fact that she's a health nut/aerobics instructor, it also plays into the eventual sex scene between her and Billy.  When Billy arrives back at Christie's giant 80's warehouse apartment, Christie takes a shower, then comes out in just a button up shirt.  Naughty.  Billy asks if she has anything to drink, Christie replies she only has V8.  She then unbuttons most of her top, straddles Billy's lap and here it comes, pours a can of V8 down her neck and boobs for Billy to lap up.  I swear!  And he does it!  Gross!  Best plug (pun) for V8 juice ever!

Overall, Ninja III: The Domination is very entertainly bad.  It's definitely become one of my favorite shitty white people doing martial arts movies.  Although I tried to fit in as much of the amazing shit they fit into this film as possible, it's no substitute for watching the full thing in all it's glory.  Ninjas, possession, helicopters, hairy shoulders, aerobics, ninja battles and ninja vengeance!  Plus, I may have left out a hot tub kill scene involving a poisonous pearl ring and several police cars exploding mid-air.  See!  I told you!  This thing is fucking legendary!  So go blow the dust out of your VCR, pick up some cheese puffs and PBRs and rent this thing already!

Christie Work Out Scenes: 3
Asian Music To Introduce Asian Characters: 8
Ball Crush With Bare Hand: 2 (Golf Ball, Billiard Ball)
Full White Suits: 1
Ninjas: 3
Asian People: 7
Casio Keyboard Riffs: 10
Ninja On Foot/Cop In Car Chase: 2
Cop Car Stunts: 2
Helicopters: 1
Ninjas Climbing Palm Trees: 1
Disappearing Helicopter Pilots: 1
Spandex Outfits: 2
Guys Popping Boners: 3
Inappropriate Music: 4
Cops Smoking Cigars: 3
Possessed Arcade Games: 1
Levitating Ninja Sword: 3
Ninja Kills: 29

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