The Gratuitous B-Movie Column 4.29.13: Ninja III: The Domination (1984)
Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz on 04.29.2013
In this issue I take a look at the classic ninja action flick from 1984 Ninja III: The Domination directed by Sam Firstenberg and featuring Sho Kosugi, plus a TV Quick Hit on Fox cancelling The Cleveland Show, a new batch of Things to Watch Out For This Week, a new B-Movie Babe is named, a new Douchebag of the Week is crowned, and more. Check it out.
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #255: Ninja III: The Domination (1984)
Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never been hit in the face with a baked potato, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number two hundred and fifty-five, I take a look at the 1984 classic ninja action flick, Ninja III: The Domination, directed by the great Sam Firstenberg and featuring the immortal Sho Kosugi.
Ninja III: The Domination (1984)
Ninja III: The Domination, the third movie in the Cannon Film Group "Ninja" cycle, is one weird, badass ninja action flick. The title, when you think about it, doesn't make much sense since there's no Ninja 1 or Ninja II. Of course, Enter the Ninja and Revenge of the Ninja (read my review of that flick here) are the first two movies in the Cannon "Ninja" cycle, two fine movies, two fine movies that still work to this day. But Ninja III beats both of them in terms of outright weirdness.
The movie stars Lucinda Dickey as Christie, an uber hot telephone repair person/aerobics instructor who, while doing a telephone job, accidentally meets up with Black Ninja (David Chung), a mysterious guy dressed in full ninja regalia who we watch massacre a bunch of people at a golf course and then a bunch of cops in one of the greatest action movie openings of all time. For whatever reason, Christie doesn't run from the bleeding, bullet riddled Black Ninja, but instead walks to him, listens to him spout stuff in Japanese, and then takes his ninja sword. Christie then goes to the police to tell them what she saw, which isn't much. The cop she speaks to, Billy Secord (Jordan Bennett), takes down her statement, then asks her out (it's a 1980's movie, that kind of thing happens all of the time in 1980's movies). Christie tells Billy to go take a hike. She isn't interested in dating a cop, especially a cop that drinks coffee and soda and other generally unhealthy beverages and foodstuffs.
So Christie tries to go about her life, working for the phone company and teaching aerobics. Billy shows up at one of her aerobics classes, hell bent on asking her out and getting her to say yes (he's also there on sort of official police business, telling her that Black Ninja is a professional Japanese assassin). After one class, she beats the crap out of a bunch of gigantic gym guys mugging a woman in an alley, using ninja karate techniques to destroy a porch and anyone who gets in her way. Why the hell did she do that? She doesn't know karate.
It's at this point in the story that, after a car ride that for whatever reason makes Christie fall in love with Billy, the mysterious Yamada (Kosugi) shows up. He's greeted at the airport by a group of Buddhist monks (I guess that's what they are. Maybe they're Shinto monks?) and told about what Black Ninja did. We also learn that Christie has been essentially taken over by the evil ninja spirit on the Black Ninja and he plans on using her to extract his revenge on the cops that shot him dead. Christie tries to hold the Black Ninja's evil spirit at bay, vigorously exercising at home in an attempt to ignore the evil spirit voice in her head telling her to kill cops. Sadly, Christie fails to hold the Black Ninja's spirit back and ends up going after the offending cops (it was the voices and the Black Ninja's glowing ninja sword levitating out of the closet that really sealed the deal for her on the whole cop killing thing, at least that's what I think).
Billy, concerned about the health of his hot new girlfriend, asks Christie to go see a doctor to find out what the heck is wrong with her. Christie's doctor doesn't find anything wrong with her. Billy, even more concerned than before, takes Christie to see Miyashima (the James fucking Hong), a local Japanese mystic/exorcist guy to see if he can help. It's at this point of the story that we find out just how demonically evil the Black Ninja is/was, what he's definitively done to Christie (just in case you couldn't figure it out), and what Yamada is in town trying to figure out.
Only a ninja can kill a ninja.
Ninja III: The Domination is just chock full of awesome stuff. As I said, the opening action scene featuring the Black Ninja massacring a bunch of people is one of the greatest action movie opening scenes of all time. There's ninja stuff, car chase stuff, gun play, and a great mystery. Just who the hell is this Black Ninja guy? Why does it appear he has super human capabilities? How can he take out so many capable, well armed cops like it's no big deal? Director Firstenberg, an old pro at this ninja stuff, goes for broke here and shows what he can do when motivated and, presumably, given enough money to do what he wants to do (go ahead and watch American Ninja II: The Confrontation to see what happens when he doesn't have enough money to do what he wants to do). The action is clearly of the 1980's, but that isn't a bad thing. Every move, every fight feels and looks right. The final fight and all of the weird Black Ninja magic stuff is worth the price of admission alone.
The movie is also chock full of great horror movie type stuff, like the scenes where Christie is attacked by the Black Ninja's evil spirit. The levitating ninja sword scenes are pretty dang freaky (no CGI to make it look like a cartoon), and the scene where Christie becomes completely consumed by the Black Ninja's spirit and stares out at the audience is terrifying (you can see a screen shot of that scene below in the Facebook section). I still have a hard time looking at it. There's also a little slasher movie type stuff thrown in, too (the first two cop kills could have easily been in a Jason movie). It's shocking that Firstenberg didn't do a full on slasher movie in the 1980's. I mean, he did a bunch of action flicks, ninja flicks, and a break dancing movie (Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo, also featuring Dickey). Why didn't Cannon have him do a slasher movie of some kind? Obviously a missed opportunity. And the zombie monk stuff is great, too (you'll know it when you see it).
The movie's only drawback is its lack of nudity. There's a pretty great seduction scene featuring Dickey, a button shirt, and a can of V8, and Firstenberg loves placing the camera on Dickey's wonderful ass, but we don't get any full on topless nudity. What the hell is the deal with that? We don't get even get a passing boob shot in the mirror. Yet another missed opportunity (there's a scene in a hot tub that could have featured plenty of nudity but doesn't. Just doesn't make any sense).
The cast is nothing short of phenomenal. Dickey is excellent as Christie. She doesn't come off as much of an actor, at least at first (her voice, at least the beginning, is kind of stilted), but you completely buy her as an actor as the movie goes on. She's sexy, she's funny, and she knows how to be emotional and make the audience care about her. Plus, the two major possession scenes are freaking amazing. I'm surprised that Dickey didn't have more of an action movie career after this flick. She's a natural at it.
Kosugi is his usual awesome self. He isn't the star of the movie but he still kicks ass no matter what. Wearing an eye patch just amps up the Kosugi awesomeness here. I'm shocked that Cannon didn't try to do more movies with Kosugi's Yamada character, going around the world dealing with evil Black Ninja types. And David Chung is good as the Black Ninja. You hate him the second you find out why he's entering that cave.
Jordan Bennett does a great job as Billy. Christie is clearly out of his league, but you still want him to eventually get her (the aerobics class scene is hilarious because of Bennett's face in the crowd). He's also a pretty good cop. I'm still a little disturbed by his general acceptance of all of the Black Ninja evil spirit/evil magic stuff, but I can deal with it (he just completely accepts it immediately. Should cops do that?). And James Hong is just great as Miyashima. Perhaps this is the performance that made John Carpenter go "I want this guy for Big Trouble in Little China!"? That could have happened, right?
Lots of people laugh at this movie because of its "cheesy" 1980's soundtrack. I'll admit that, to the modern ear, the songs on the soundtrack sound weird, but they, like the rest of the movie, still work anyway. I think it's high time someone puts a limited edition soundtrack out for this movie. I'd buy it.
The fine folks at the Shout! Factory are releasing Ninja III: The Domination in June of this year as a Blu-ray/DVD thing. While it's cool that the movie is finally getting a proper DVD release, it's a damn shame that the DVD is slated to be sans any special features. Why not try to get an interview with Kosugi, or Dickey or Bennett, or a commentary track with Firstenberg? And what about any deleted scenes? There's got to be stuff floating around somewhere. A missed opportunity?
Well, be sure to pick up Ninja III: The Domination anyway on June 11th when it hits DVD. It's worth getting and experiencing, either for the first time or the millionth time. It's a great goddamn movie. Fucking awesome.
See Ninja III: The Domination as soon as you can. Again, it's a fucking awesome movie. See it, see it, see it.
So what do we have here?
Dead bodies: 20+ (I wouldn't be surprised to find out if the actual body count is over 40).
Doobage: A secret ninja cave out in the middle of nowhere, golf, golf ball crushing by hand, dart to the barrel of a gun, various ninja attack attacks, golf cart lifting, back slicing, sword across the chest, ninja running, ninja leaps, sword through the roof of a car, sword through the back, ninja star attack, a great car crash, tree climbing, an awesome helicopter stunt, ninja star to the temple via boot, exploding helicopter, ninja breathing tube, slow motion "cops killing a ninja" montage, smoke bomb escape, an instantaneous burial, telephone pole climbing, an evil ninja sword, a slow motion flashback to the slow motion "cops killing a ninja" montage, a police interrogation, video game playing, an aerobics class montage, an alley mugging, wooden banister attack, a hot babe wearing only a towel, sexual teasing, V8 licking, a very cool "glowing ninja sword levitating out of the closet" scene, home aerobics, a home pay phone, some spooky red laser stuff, scary as fuck "ninja eyes," a guy playing pool in his underwear, pool ball slicing, pool ball crushing, face slashing, window smashing, 1980's ninja cop forensics, serious body hair, a health spa Jacuzzi attack via poison tipped ring, chest slashing, strangulation, floating dead bodies, more home aerobics, chain bondage, demonic possession, demon dust to the face, a spinning ninja, a ninja star belt buckle, dead body stealing, a double nogaknocker, a flashback to Japan, yogurt eating, a flying phone, obscene phone messages in Japanese, more home aerobics, a dead cop funeral massacre, ninja bow and arrow stuff, American flag folding, arrow through the chest, arrow through the neck, double bike cop attack, attempted police baton attack, headstone smashing, a tree dive, leaping over a barbed wire fence, ninja attack inside an abandoned building, a major stomach injury, a surprise arrest, knock out darts hidden behind an eye patch, a sort of car chase, some cheesy spirit animation, a ninja fight inside a temple, fire throwing, monk zombies, some serious ninja ass kicking, rope net climbing, multiple ninja smoke bombs, chain vs. ninja sword fight, sword through the gut, mysterious ninja spinning into the ground, a ninja earthquake, a rope fight, knife through the top of the head, and an awesome ending.
Kim Richards?: None.
Gratuitous: A hidden ninja cave out in the middle of nowhere, a country club golf course assassination via ninja, a ninja attacking cops and killing most of them, a great helicopter stunt, slow motion "cops killing a ninja" montage, Lucinda Dickey, cheesy 1980's pop music, an evil ninja sword, video game playing aerobics class hooey, a mugging, sexual teasing, a glowing evil ninja sword that likes to levitate out of the closet, Sho Kosugi, Sho Kosugi wearing an eye patch, home aerobics, scary ninja eyes, serious body hair, health spa attack, James Hong, a gong, an attempted exorcism, a ninja star belt buckle, body stealing, obscene phone messages in Japanese, a cop funeral ninja massacre, attempted police baton attack, Sho Kosugi ninja attack, some cheesy spirit animation, zombie monks, multiple ninja smoke bombs, a ninja earthquake, knife through the top of the head, and an awesome ending.
Best lines: "Hey, you guys, give me a hand, will ya?," "Rough day, huh?," "Thanks, but I don't use soft drinks," "God, is she beautiful," "What a friend you are," "Hey, Christie, what the hell is this?," "You're just not going to quit, are ya?," "Did you know coffee is really bad for your health?," "I like your pajamas," "You're full of surprises, aren't you?," "Who is she? I don't know but it's all right," "Beat it, bitch!," "Billy, I don't care what the doctors say, there's something wrong with me," "Oh my God!," "Maybe we better stop," "You fool! You cannot stop me! I am a ninja!," "No you don't! Not again!," "You're a ninja," "I love you," and "Is it true that only a ninja can kill a ninja?"
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: The Facebook Page!
Please check out The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Facebook page, which can be seen here. There's not much there at the moment, but, as time goes by, expect to see daily questions and musings and other B-movie hooey. And it would be cool if you "liked" it, too.
- The Cleveland Show cancelled?: As far as I know Fox hasn't officially cancelled the Family Guy spin off but the show hasn't been renewed yet, either. I'm going to venture a guess and say that that early renewal isn't good. If Fox really wanted the show the network would have announced the show's renewal by now. So what happened? Why is The Cleveland Show potentially going away?
Two things: 1. The lack of a fixed time on the Fox schedule. Sometimes Cleveland is on at 7:30pm EST, sometimes it's on at 9:30pm EST, after Family Guy. I think it was on at 8:30pm not that long ago, too. You can't build real audience support if the show's spot on the schedule keeps changing. It also doesn't help that, when it is on at 7:30pm, the show gets pushed out of that 7:30pm spot by sports overruns. Those overruns allow people to go watch something else at 7:30pm. I know, I know, the show's hip and edgy young person demographic is all about watching TV shows on their phones and whatnot, but the steady broadcast network timeslot still matters.
And 2, the show has a terrible syndication package. Family Guy is on several channels in reruns, as is the other Seth MacFarlane cartoon American Dad!. The Cleveland Show, for whatever reason, only gets the rerun treatment on Sunday nights on Adult Swim. Why isn't Fox bombarding the hip and edgy cartoon watching young person world with Cleveland on FX or TBS or wherever? American Dad! probably has good enough ratings and overall audience awareness because it's just about everywhere Family Guy is. At this point, we'll probably see reruns of Bob's Burgers on three different cable channels before we see Cleveland on after your local late night news.
So, if Cleveland does get cancelled, what happens to the Cleveland Brown character? What happens to Cleveland's family? Will they all be traveling to Quahog? Will they, for some reason, show up in Langley Falls, which probably isn't all that far away from Stoolbend, the Browns' current hometown? That would be interesting, wouldn't it? Cleveland hanging around with Stan Smith and Roger the alien? Maybe Tim the bear would show up as a kind of new guest star?
If, in the end, The Cleveland Show does get officially cancelled I hope Cleveland returns to Family Guy and Quahog, Rhode Island. It would be a blast to see Cleveland back in action with Peter, Quagmire, and Joe. It still seems weird not seeing Cleveland sitting with the guys at The Drunken Clam.
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Theme of the Week
And, of course, there's this:
Things to Watch Out For This Week
- Manborg: This low budget homage to the wacked out movies of the 1980's comes to us from Astron 6, the same group of moviemakers responsible for the messed up "grindhouse" flick Father's Day. This movie doesn't look as messed up as Father's Day, but it definitely looks more insane. Anyone out there see this?
- Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection: I guess this is some sort of British remake of George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead. I'm not sure why the world needs this movie, but I'm willing to give it a shot. It's not like we can stop these "remakes"/"sequels" from happening. And who knows, it could turn out to be a good movie. Maybe. I like the trailer.
- The Wicked: This is some sort of low budget horror movie about teens out in the woods fucking around with something evil. Instead of a masked killer, though, it looks like the teens are battling a witch. It isn't an original idea, but it's one that doesn't get used all that often. Easily worth a rental.
- Body Melt (Katrina's Nightmare Theater): This horror flick, also known as Body Trash, is an absolutely disgusting Australian movie from the 1990's. And by "disgusting" I mean fun. I'm grossed out by the trailer, and that's just the trailer. Of course you need to see it.
- Agent Beetle: A low budget sort of superhero movie? How often do we get to see that kind of thing? Hopefully this movie is as fun as it looks.
- Combat! The Complete First Season: Combat! is one of the best action adventure shows in the history of television. It's all about World War II and kicking Nazi butt (just about every episode starts off with some kind of massive attack). Vic Morrow's Sgt. Saunders is one of the greatest TV characters of all time. I'm not sure if this show is still on TV, but if you pick up this DVD set you don't have to make an effort to find out. You'll be able to watch the Sarge kick ass whenever you feel like it. Great stuff.
Did you know that Free Comic Book Day is this Saturday?
Free Comic Book Day is a yearly event, usually the first Saturday in May, that sort of celebrates the joy of reading comic books. Participating comic book shops will give you, while supplies last, at least one free comic book (some will give out more). There are usually several different comic books to choose from in terms of genres (it's not just a bunch of superhero comic books). You can go here for all kinds of info regarding this year's Free Comic Book Day. If you don't know where your local comic book shop is located, check out this site.
Free Comic Book Day! Yeah!
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Babe of the Week: Lucinda Dickey
Do you read Shadowland Magazine?
Shadowland Magazine "is a quarterly magazine devoted to covering the best in horror, sci-fi, and fantasy related entertainment. Each issue contains retrospectives, exclusive interviews, movie reviews, industry news, and so much more!" (via its website). You can find it at various book stores, comic book shops, and via its website. And if you watch The Monster Channel you can see a commercial for the magazine which, much like the magazine itself, is pretty dang nifty.
Read Shadowland Magazine! Yeah!
George Jones 1931-2013 RIP
(Courtesy of "The Ronnie Prophet Show")
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week
This week, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week goes to the right wing media machine, for both its stoking of Islamophobia in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing and for the attempted "rehab" of George W. Bush's legacy via his Presidential Library opening. If you turned on Fox News or tuned in to right wing talk radio this week (or surfed the internets) you experienced the ramping up of the "the Muslims are out to get us!" hysteria that's been a nice moneymaker for the machine since 9/11. We can't let them (Muslims) in anymore, and the ones that are already here (that includes born American Muslims) should be watched because they all apparently hate America, etc. It's all the usual nonsense, but the machine knows that its people will fall for it every single time and that's what matters. Are some terrorists Muslims? Yes. But are all Muslims terrorists? Absolutely not. It would be nice if the right wing media machine would acknowledge that. It won't, though.
As for the "Bush rehab" thing, you can't shine shit. You can try to make it smell better, surround it with things that make it look better than it really is, and you can simply lie about what it is. But the reality is George W. Bush was a terrible President. The man is, and was, hopeless and absolutely nothing is going to change that. Nothing.
And then there's NASCAR for its penalties against Kansas Sprint Cup race winner Matt Kenseth and Joe Gibbs Racing. One of the pieces inside Kenseth's engine was deemed to be underweight, and as a result Kenseth was docked 50 points, fined thousands of dollars, his crew chief was suspended for six races, and Joe Gibbs Racing will be forced to lose out on collecting manufacturer points for several races. The penalties would make sense if the illegal engine part in question was actually altered by the Gibbs team, but it wasn't. Toyota Racing Development, the team's engine supplier, admitted to accidentally providing the "illegal" part. And since the engine part didn't provide a performance advantage, why dole out such a massive penalty? If it was all a manufacturer mistake, why not penalize Toyota in terms of the manufacturer's point standings? Wouldn't that make more sense?
These penalties might be rescinded on appeal, but I wouldn't hold my breath. The #20 team is screwed.
And finally there's People Magazine, for proclaiming Gwyneth Paltrow the World's Most Beautiful Woman. It's a ludicrous assertion, especially when Sofia Vergara, Halle Berry, and Dina Meyer still exist in the world. Thankfully, Paltrow doesn't necessarily agree with the magazine's claim (I read it on yahoo). But why would People make such a claim in the first place? I wish I knew. I wish I knew.
NASCAR and Indycar thoughts
I was able to actually watch most of the NASCAR Sprint Cup race from Richmond last Saturday night. It was the best race of the year, at least so far. There was action all over the track, a bunch of different leaders, plenty of drivers in real contention for the win, and all sorts of on track drama. There was Matt Kenseth, still pissed about the Kansas engine penalty, dominating the early part of the race, Brad Keselowski's crash, Greg Biffle's massive double tire failure, Kyle Busch's rescinded pit road penalty (NASCAR making the right call? What the hell is the deal with that?), Juan Pablo Montoya coming within a C-hair of winning his first oval race, and the after-the race hooey involving Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch. Kevin Harvick ended up winning the race during a mad dash green-white-checkered finale. Clint Bowyer was second.
Man, Montoya had that race won. If that last caution didn't come Montoya would have won. Harvick probably would have caught him on the back stretch but I doubt he would have been able to pass him. But Montoya's crew chief made the right call having him come in for tires. If he didn't have new tires the cars that did pit would have smoked him on the restart. Fourth place is better than 18th or last. Has Montoya's bad luck finally gone away?
I can't say that I'm shocked that Stewart went after Kurt Busch after the race. I'm not sure if I agree with Stewart's attack, though. It was just hard racing at the end. That kind of bumping and banging thing happens all the time in NASCAR. A bump after the race? Maybe a "gentle" push up into the wall? Sure, why not? But a complete meltdown?
Carl Edwards finally had a good night, as did Kurt Busch (he finished 9th). And AJ Allmendinger, back after a two race jaunt in Indycar, managed to finish 14th and, through some ballsy pit strategy, was in the thick of it at the end. Allmendinger was always going to get smoked during the restart because of old tires, but he had a chance to finish in the top 5 or 10, so he had to take it. Will he stick with NASCAR after all or try his hand at being a full-time Indycar driver in 2014?
And how about Aric Almirola? Has he figured out how to make the #43 go?
I wasn't expecting to see as good a race as I did on Saturday. Was it the new car? I missed the Nationwide race on Friday night, which apparently featured the same kind of action both on and off the track (two RCR pit crew guys were arrested for assault and Nelson Piquet kicked a guy in the balls for some reason). Brad Keselowski won the race.
Talladega is up next for the Sprint Cup and the Nationwide series, with Nationwide on Saturday and Sprint Cup on Sunday. It'll be interesting to see if the racing we saw at Daytona at the start of the year will happen again at Talladega. And who will be in the mix up front? Someone new perhaps?
Over in Indycar, the street race in Brazil is up next on the schedule, but most of the talk in Indycar is all about ending the 2014 season at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. Indycar CEO Mark Miles seems to be keen on the idea, as do most of the car owners, but fan reaction has been lukewarm at best. The Indy road course is pretty lame, and I don't quite understand the point of the Indycars racing there (I'm with Speed's Robin Miller in that the only time Indycars should race at Indy is in May on the oval), especially as a season ender. California was a great season finale last year. Why mess with that success? I hope this is just an idea floating around that eventually goes away for being stupid.
The other big news is Oriol Servia potentially losing his ride after the Indianapolis 500. Apparently his Dreyer & Reinbold Racing team doesn't have enough sponsorship to go beyond the 500. Not having Servia in the field weekly is just awful to contemplate. The series needs him and the DRR team. There's got to be some sponsorship money out there somewhere.
The Brazil race is on Sunday morning at 11am on the NBC Sports Network. Hopefully it won't suck.
Well, I think that'll be about it for this issue. B-movies rule, always remember that.
If there's anything you want to see reviewed here in this column, feel free to offer a comment below or send me an e-mail. I'm always on the lookout for new stuff to watch.
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Ninja III: The Domination
Lucinda Dickey- Christie Sho Kosugi- Yamada Jordan Bennett- Billy Secord David Chung- Black Ninja James Hong- Miyashima
Directed by Sam Firstenberg Screenplay by James R. Silke
Distributed by The Cannon Group
Rated R for violence and language Runtime- 92 minutes