Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Something's missing in this movie....

Golden Ninja Invasion (1987)
Starring: Leonard West, Stephanie Burd, Alan Davies, Jerry Brown, Susan Evans, Marshal Lucas, and Eric Lee
Director: Bruce Lambert
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

The nefarious Red Sun gang are looking to expand their empire of fear, vice, and drugs, but they face opposition from a brave cadre of Thai police officers, and the righteous Blue Ninja. But can even the bravest, most pure-hearted of champions of good withstand the onslaught of Mr. Warren and his ninja?!

As you watch "Golden Ninja Invasion", it becomes obvious that there are a couple of things missing in this movie: There's no Golden Ninja, and there's no invasion that takes place by said Golden Ninja, or any other ninja in this film. That list grows when you take into account the poster art featured above, as the film also doesn't feature helicopters buzzing the United States Capitol Building, nor any fiery car crashes. (There are a couple of car chases, but no real crashes.)

What the film features is an incoherent story about a criminal gang are aided by a group of Ninja in their fight against sort of Thai anti-gang unit--one member of which has had his hand replaced by a metal hand that shoots electrical bolts when the plot calls for it--and a handful of uniformed cops. There's also some sort of scientist in possession of top secret documents the gang wants for reasons never explained. As if the movie wasn't confusing enough, a mysterious Mr. Warren is behind the gang and the Ninja, and he is opposed by some ancient martial artist and the powerful Blue Ninja.

The plots upon plots and story lines barely connecting are the result of this being yet another one of those patchwork Ninja films from the 1980s. Like so many others, this movie was created by Chinese filmmakers for sale in the Western market by merging an existing (possibly never distributed) film with a few new scenes featuring Caucasian actors and some guys in ninja outfits doing very silly stuff. What makes this film almost unique in the dozens of these that were foisted upon the world by producers Tomas Tang and Joseph Lai, and directors like Godfrey Ho and whoever was working behind the name "Bruce Lambert" at any given time, is that not only are their ninja in the new footage, but the original film featured ninja as well.

Yes, for reasons that we may never know, since Tomas Tang died in 1996 and "Bruce Lambert" is a anonymous and shadowy figure--people like to claim he's Godfrey Ho, but Ho has stated categorically that he was never credited under that named... dozens of others, but not that one--the good people at Filmark Productions tacked additional ninja scenes onto a film that already featured ninja!

While it's a mystery why this ninja movie needed more ninja, there's no question that the Blue Ninja sequences are integrated a little better into this picture than is often the case in patchwork films like this. For example, Mr. Warren (a character in the new footage) has phone conversations with characters in the old footage, showing that a bit more care was taken in trying to make the pieces fit together here than is often the case. The Blue Ninja material is also hilarious, both unintentionally and intentionally. Absolutely intentional humor revolves around "ninja beans"--magical devices that apparently are only safe when used by ninja--and the general level of stupidity of the average ninja, while there is tons of unintentional humor every time anyone in the Blue Ninja sections opens their mouths and dialogue comes out.

As for the bulk of the film--the original Thai gangster/ninja movie, what it lacks in coherence it makes up for in random violence and mayhem. Fights are constantly breaking out and the audience only knows why about 25% of the time. If these were interesting fights, this might be a good thing, but they are for the most part badly staged, amateurishly filmed, and often marred by bad effects. But one can't help but have a small degree of respect for the attempt to make up for the lack of quality by providing a huge quantity of violence.

If you're looking for one of the better examples of the uniquely 1980s art of Ninja Movie Quilting, "Golden Ninja Invasion" might fit the bill. It might also work nicely for a Bad Movie Night, although the ratio of "just bad" to "so bad its good" is a little on the low side for optimum effectiveness.

The deadliest of blogathons....

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