Wrath of the Ninja: The Yotoden Movie [戦国奇譚妖刀伝 Sengoku Kidan Yōtōden] (1989)
AKA Legend of the Enchanted Swords; Yotoden: Chronicle of the Warlord Period; Wrath of the Ninja – The Yotoden Chronicles; Blade of the Ninja
Starring Keiko Toda, Kazuhiko Inoue, Takeshi Watabe, Tomomichi Nishimura, Masami Kikuchi, Kazuki Yao, Kaneto Shiozawa, Norio Wakamoto, Reizo Nomoto, Shōzō Iizuka, Ritsuo Sawa, Eken Mine
Directed by Osamu Yamasaki
Ninja action is awesome, right? Especially when there are lots of demons and illusions, and martial arts showdowns scattered around, right? The more the better, right? Well, sadly that’s not the case for Wrath of the Ninja which proves that you can indeed have too much ninja action in a movie, as hard as that is to believe. I think (hope) that this is the result of compressing down the longer original story into oblivion. The film version of Wrath of the Ninja is a compilation of the series, and it’s got all the usual problems of such a film cranked up to eleven.
The plot, what’s left of it anyway, revolves around three ninjas from different clans who each own a special weapon with a legend attached to it. They’re up against the commonly used historical figure of Oda Nobunaga, who was also the villain of Black Lion as well as other anime. Here, as is common in stories set in feudal Japan, Nobunaga is a demon bent on conquering the world. I think. I’m actually not sure what he’s after. The story doesn’t have enough time to bother with something as trivial as the objectives of the main villain. But whatever he’s trying to do, it involves the massacre of the protagonists’ hometowns, which obviously unites them in an unstoppable ninja team-up out for revenge.
Continue reading Stephen reviews: Wrath of the Ninja: The Yotoden Movie (1989) →
Ninja Vengeance (1988)
Starring Craig Boyett, Janet Pawlak, David Lord, Steven K. Hayes
Directed by Karl R. Armstrong
In this actioner, a heroic ninja biker kicks the stuffing out of a villainous Texas sheriff and stops him and the KKK from bullying a black resident.
Holy Shit… Now that’s a plot synopsis!! In fact, that’s all it took for Ninja Vengeance to pull me by the ears and command my full attention. I mean, who can argue with a premise like that, right?
Unfortunately, a lot of the problems with Ninja Vengeance stem from its admittedly badass premise being mauled by piss-poor execution. I’m sure the filmmakers felt all honorable and shit by making their hero a crusader against the KKK, but the question begs… why not a black dude as the ninja? Surely that would make more sense, and make the vengeance all the more “vengeful”. I’m reminded of a movie like No Retreat, No Surrender, which was great fun but had the same cringeworthy curse of the token black character serving no real purpose but to pump up the white hero. In this case the film goes a step further by actually killing off the black guy in order to motivate the lead character. Am I the only one that squirmed a little bit by the sex scene between the ninja and the black guy’s female friend? Did they just kill off the black dude in order to have these two get it on?
Continue reading Uncle Jasper reviews: Ninja Vengeance (1988) →
Rage of Honor (1987)
Starring Sho Kosugi, Lewis Van Bergen, Robin Evans, Gerry Gibson, Charles Lucia, Richard Wiley, Carlos Estrada, Ulises Dumont
Directed By Gordon Hessler
Like a sneak attack from the shadows, I bring you another stealthy actioneer from Sho Kosugi: Master Ninja™!
Rage of Honor is definitely a low point in the Sho Kosugi arsenal. Taken as a straight 80’s actioneer it will definitely satisfy. The film not only contains genre staples such as jungle warfare, shirtless dudes with machine guns, and slick-haired assholes in bright suits and aviator sunglasses, but it also seems to stem from that holy trifecta of all great action films of the era: Heroin, Uzis, and Organized Criminals.
That’s great if your name is Chuck Norris, Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Sylvester Stallone. But if you are Sho Kosugi, purveyor of all things ninja, you come to expect a little more. Don’t get me wrong, Sho does a lot of ninja-like things this time around. You’ll get your shurikens, grappling hooks, and exploding smoke bombs. Unlike previous films however, he decides to ditch the ninja costume and Japanese mysticism for a more Americanized, guerrilla warfare approach. The result is not a ninja film, by any stretch. It’s more like a ninja-tinged, loosely tossed together version of First Blood, Part II.
Continue reading Uncle Jasper reviews: Rage of Honor (1987) →
Pray for Death (1985)
Starring Sho Kosugi, James Booth, Donna Kei Benz, Norman Burton, Kane Kosugi, Shane Kosugi, Matthew Faison, Parley Baer
Directed By Gordon Hessler
Digging into the archives here at Silver Emulsion brought a staggering discovery to my attention. Although we have done our best to bring you reviews of classy motion picture entertainment on a regular basis, we are still far from perfect and definitely have a long way to go in our quest for celluloid gold. In our first six months we have covered a whole slew of classics but have sadly remained deficient in one of the greatest genres of film known to mankind. No I’m not talking about film noir, westerns, or Hollywood musicals. I’m talking fucking Ninjas! And when I’m talking fucking Ninjas, I am of course talking Sho Kosugi.
For those not in the know, Sho Kosugi is pretty much the Henry Ford of ninja lore. What child of the 80s could not remember begging mom and dad to buy a couple of those cheap ass plastic ninja swords in the supermarket toy aisle, banging them together with friends until they bent in half, sadly drooping along while they carried out stealth assaults? Who cannot remember the deluge of ninja related video games and TV shows at the time? That was all courtesy of Sho Kosugi and a little movie from 1983 titled Revenge of the Ninja.
Continue reading Uncle Jasper reviews: Pray for Death (1985) →