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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column 1.13.14 Issue #290: 9 Deaths of the Ninja (1985)
Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz on 01.13.2014

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #290: 9 Deaths of the Ninja (1985)

Ninja New Year!: Week 1

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never been attacked by a teddy bear wielding a ninja sword, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number two hundred and ninety, Ninja New Year! begins with a look at the 1985 "ninja" flick 9 Deaths of the Ninja starring the great Sho Kosugi.

9 Deaths of the Ninja (1985)

9 Deaths of the Ninja (also known as Nine Deaths of the Ninja), written and directed by Emmet Alston, is basically a ninja movie in name only. While it does feature Sho Kosugi, one of the greatest ninja movie actors of all time, in a starring role and has Kosugi's character fight ninjas twice, the movie isn't about ninjas, ninja culture, preventing the destruction of some sort of ninja thing, etc. It's almost like the producers wanted to make an action movie with Kosugi, made it, then decided to add in some "ninja stuff" so the movie could be sold to the movie watching public as yet another Kosugi ninja flick. And if that is what happened, why the heck did the producers come up with the title 9 Deaths of the Ninja? No one dies nine times. In fact, the number nine doesn't figure into the plot at all. Why didn't Crown International Pictures use the title that, according to imdb.com was used in Finland, Deadly Warrior? At least that title would have made some sort of sense.

Okay, so 9 Deaths of the Ninja stars Kosugi as Spike Shinobi, a badass super agent/terrorist fighter who, when teaming with his terrorist fighting partners Steve Gordon (Brent Huff) and Jennifer Barnes (Emilia Lesniak, also known as Emilia Crow), kicks major ass. Shinobi's team is called into action when a bus full of American children in the Philippines is captured by a drug running terrorist outfit lead by a weird beard crippled Neo Nazi (Alby the Cruel, as played by Blackie Dammett) and his band of lesbian mercenaries. The children belong to American workers at the American embassy in Manila, and a visiting U.S. Congressperson (Morrison, as played by Jacques Gervais) is also among the hostages.

Now, you would think that with a busload of children held at gunpoint by a lunatic racist who has a pet monkey Shinobi's team would be relentless in its pursuit of the terrorists and get going as soon as it could. But for reasons that are unknown to me, Shinobi, Gordon, and Barnes take their sweet ass time getting to the Philippines to find the children and take out the bad guys. By the time that they do get to the Philippines they engage in seemingly unrelated skirmishes with locals, have dinner at a swanky restaurant, and fight midgets (it's not as hilarious as it sounds). And then there's the scene where Shinobi, out tracking down a lead, goes to a local brothel and demands "I want a clean girl! No clap!" and then, after obtaining a girl with "very clean thighs" Shinobi is attacked and an endless fight scene ensues. When the fight scene finally ends Shinobi doesn't learn anything and it's off to the next scene.

I just wish I knew what the hell this movie is supposed to be about or what writer-director Alston was trying to do. There's just no drive to the plot, no sense of urgency from anyone. And the movie never explains why a Neo Nazi would hire a band of lesbian mercenaries (a band of lesbian mercenaries led by a black chick) or why said Nazi would have a hulking Arab henchman (Rahji, as played by Sonny Erang). Why the hell is Alby a Nazi in the first place? Why can't he just be a lunatic madman? I mean, if you watch the opening credits sequence (a sort of interpretative 1980's aerobics dance alongside Kosugi practicing his ninja sword technique) it's almost like you're watching a low budget James Bond movie. How many Bond villains were Nazis?

And then there's the "ninja" stuff. We see Shinobi meditating under a waterfall, then engaging in some sort of ninja training thing where he attacks various dummies with ninja weapons and then is attacked by several ninjas in the jungle. Shinobi's master (I'm going to assume that's who he is) then yells at Shinobi and tells him he's not ready to be a ninja. Then, towards the end of the movie, Shinobi ends up fighting ninjas again while trapped in a cave. I'm going to assume that Shinobi, as part of his ninja training, has to fight a group of ninjas whenever his master says so, even if it's in the middle of some big, unrelated mission. Why the hell would that happen?

Kosugi is fun to watch as Shinobi. He refuses to use a gun, he takes out bad guys with crossbows, ninja stars, and sai type weapons, and he has a lollipop fetish (he's always got one in his mouth). He does appear dazed at times, as though he has no idea what he's supposed to be doing, but he makes the most of what he's given to work with and at least tries. His voice is dubbed and sounds ridiculous but, again, Kosugi is engaged enough in the movie to make it work. Kosugi also choreographed the flick's fight scenes, and for the most part they're pretty good. The midget scene, though, should have been better. He should have kicked the shit out of those little guys.

Brent Huff, who gets to wield a giant machine gun at the end of the movie, spends most of the movie either in a daze or just fucking around. He doesn't come off as bored or anything like that, but he isn't as into what he's doing as Kosugi. Was Huff protesting via his performance the movie's general lack of coherence? I would like to think so. Lesniak, as the uber blonde Jennifer Barnes, knows that she's there to provide eye candy for the males in the audience and her performance reflects that. I do wonder why, though, Alston didn't have her do a topless scene. We do get the "underwater bathing suit removal" scene, so why not a gratuitous "Barnes changes her bra" scene? Did Alston run out of time to shoot it?

Dammett is insane as Alby the Cruel and not in a good way. He spends most of his time overacting, and when he appears on screen and starts talking you desperately want to hit "fast forward" so you won't have to hear him. Alston should have asked Dammett to calm down or he should have found a way to trim every scene he's in. Just a terrible, terrible performance. Why the hell wasn't Regina Richardson's Honey Hump the main villain? I would have rather seen her flipping out on henchpersons instead of Dammett. I mean, if you have lesbian mercenaries in your movie why not use them? Lloyd Kaufman certainly wouldn't have passed up the opportunity to do so.

And then there's Vijay Amritraj as Rankin, the guy at the U.S. embassy that's always on the phone. Who the hell is he? And why is he always flirting with his secretary? Is he the U.S. ambassador to the Philippines, or he is some sort of Filipino government official who works with the U.S. government? What am I missing here?

Be on the lookout for Kosugi's then young sons Kane and Shane, who are among the American hostages on the bus. They mess around with the terrorists, especially this fat douchebag who can't keep his hands to himself (the boys rescue a woman who is about to be raped by the terrorist by setting his ass crack on fire). I'm shocked no one wanted to make a kid ninja movie with them in the 1980's. It would have been hilarious.

9 Deaths of the Ninja just isn't very good. It has its moments and is kind of watchable, sure, but it should be a million times better than it is. It should have also made an effort to be an actual ninja movie. Why have "ninja" in the title if you're not going to deliver the goods?

9 Deaths of the Ninja is worth seeing once, but that's it. And even then, you're probably better off watching Revenge of the Ninja or Ninja III: The Domination again instead. At least those were actual ninja movies.

See 9 Deaths of the Ninja. But only once. Once is more than enough.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: 20+.

Explosions: Several. Some big ones, some small ones. They're not all that exciting, though, and that's a shame.

Nudity?: Yes. And it's hilarious.

Doobage: A smoke bomb, crossbow attack, remote control explosions, multiple ninja stars, a lollipop, an M203 grenade launcher, death by sai, ninja sword attack, a hilarious ninja star to the chest non-death, helicopters, a strange as all hooha opening titles sequence, street martial arts, nasty prison food, a bunch of volcanic islands, a marriage massacre, a hostage situation on a bus, waterfall ninja meditation, bow and arrow practice, a sort of ninja training montage, multiple decapitated dummies, a series of wood booby traps, watermelon attack, tape bondage, attempted rape, a burning ass gag, potential implied lesbianism, a severed head in a box, matching sweat suits, kung fu midgets, ball punching, suicide by stairs, face punching, attempted monkey homicide, a brief restaurant fight, cane nunchucks, a rough jungle walk, a terrorist German beer music dance, strangulation, a hilarious visit to a brothel, a watch tracker, balloon popping, a speed boat escape, a vicious chop to the back of the neck, gun dismantling, fingers to the eye, a chopper stunt, ninja palm spikes to the face, laughing idiots, a very long chopper flight, swimming, harpoon attack, a series of underwater bikini removals, a quick beach fight, a glue gun, a massive jungle explosion, a big ass machine gun, a jungle ambush, a sai dart gun, sparkler bomb, ninja star to the eye, beer drinking, more attempted rape, more strangulation, bondage, a fat guy disguise, ninja star to the wrist, slingshot attack, cigarette shooting, a Nazi flag, a cave in, a sudden ninja attack, a ninja sword with a handle that can bend, a massive time bomb, axe attack, a smoke grenade in the mouth, capture via net, death by race horse, breast fondling, and a lollipop giveaway.

Kim Richards?: Attempted.

Gratuitous: Sho Kosugi, Sho Kosugi killing bad guys with a crossbow, Sho Kosugi sucking on a lollipop, a strange as all hooha opening titles sequence, the Philippines, a marriage massacre, a crippled Neo-Nazi bad guy with a pet monkey, a sort of ninja training montage, lesbian mercenaries, Sho Kosugi's young children, kung fu midgets, Sho Kosugi playing air guitar on a tennis racket, a giant Arab henchman, a terrorist German beer music dance, multiple laughing idiots, a very long chopper flight, Sho Kosugi swimming, underwater bikini top removal, a massive jungle explosion, a cave in, a weird ninja fight in a cave, death by race horse, and a lollipop giveaway.

Best lines: "Time to do a little dancing," "What? A hijack?," "A ninja does not allow himself to be swayed by emotion," "Don't fight it! Consider yourself lucky!," "Men are all pigs," "That was his last jump," "Hey, what do we have here? Yellow jackets!," "I'm gonna buy some, uh, lollipops," "I see him. He's headed for Chinatown," "I want a clean girl. No clap!," "We could clean out your pipes," "This Nazi keeps sending me these goons to entertain. If he didn't pay so well I'd blast his ass back to Berlin," "Save your strength scumbag! It would take a man stronger than you to break through industrial epoxy!," "Let's blow up the camp," "Do you understand? Pig heads!," "Tell me about the cave," "I have something to give them," "Too many drugs this time, boys, too many drugs," and "I've never killed women before. This time I may make an exception."

Rating: 5.9/10.0


Next week: More Ninja New Year!

Pray for Death


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 Gratuitous B-Movie Column Facebook page! Yeah!

And please check out my interview with director Brett A. Hart about the Ain't It Cool internet show and more!


Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 1

- Riddick: I reviewed this awesome sci-fi action horror sequel back here. While it's way too long and a little slow at times it's still awesome seeing Vin Diesel back as Riddick. Hopefully this isn't the last time we see the badass Furyan. If we all buy the DVD it won't be.

- You're Next: As you may remember I reviewed this flick as part of the The 6th Annual The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Slasher Movie Celebration back in, well, October (it was actually September 30th but, hey, close enough). It's a very cool slasher mystery flick featuring a team of slasher killers, something you don't see all that often. Great performances, great atmosphere, just an awesome experience all around. Pick this up, too, along with Riddick.

- Carrie: This is the remake that came out last October and failed to ignite the box office, which is what I thought it would do. I missed seeing it on the big screen, but now that it's about to hit DVD I have no excuse. Anyone out there see this?

- Rewind This!: This is a documentary about the home video revolution of the 1980's and how it changed the world or something like that. I'm all for this kind of nostalgia, so I'll definitely be checking this out. Awesome stuff.


The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Theme of the Week



TV Quick Hits

- Intelligence thoughts: This new CBS action drama comes off as Chuck if that show had decided to focus on Bryce Larkin instead of Chuck Bartowski. You've got the super badass super agent with the computer chip in his head Gabe Vaughn (Josh Holloway), the hot chick hired to protect him (Riley Neal, as played by Meghan Ory), and the uber serious head of the intelligence agency running the program (Marg Helgenberger). The only thing Intelligence is missing is a goofy sidekick (Eldon Henson's Amos Pembroke could have been that guy but he defected to the Chinese so that's over).

Intelligence is a pretty good show. It's well made, well acted, and Holloway and Ory have instant chemistry. I'm a little leery of Vaughn's back story, though. While we haven't seen the "missing wife" too many times in this kind of show it doesn't feel like it belongs here. Vaughn doesn't come off as a guy that would want to have many attachments in life. I don't think he would ever get married or want to have a family, at least not until after meeting Ory's Neal (because you know that's where the show is going). And even with his stellar battlefield credentials, wouldn't it be a bad idea to implant a super computer chip that allows someone to see and know everything into a guy that has attachments? Isn't potential blackmail a problem?

I am intrigued by the Chinese angle that, I assume, will come back later in the season. The female Chinese agent with the second chip isn't dead, so she's going to have to be activated at some point, right? She's going to have to engage in espionage and whatnot, right? That should make for an epic fight at some point.

I like Intelligence and definitely want to see it continue. It would be cool, though, if CBS moved the show to Fridays at 8pm instead of Mondays at 10pm. Is it really a good idea to go up against The Black List and Castle?

- Chicago P.D. thoughts: Holy hooey is this an awesome show. I was worried that having a show headed by Jason Beghe's scumbag dirty cop Sgt. Voight would be overly dark and ridiculous, like a network TV version of The Shield, but after only one episode I'm freaking hooked. Voight is still a piece of crap (how the hell did he get back on the force and put in charge of the CPD's intelligence unit?) but he shows off an integrity that he didn't have on Chicago Fire. He's a badass cop out to kick ass and take names. In the real world that kind of thing would be appalling, but on TV it's, well, entertaining. It just is.

John Seda's Antonio Dawson is a cool character and is going to have to be the soul of the show, meaning he's going to have to be the one that tries to hold Voight's darker impulses in check. I have no idea how he's going to do that, especially with his son kidnapped and the drug cartel doing drug cartel business in his backyard, but I have a feeling that he's going to be the one we're going to have to depend on to make the right choice when the shit hits the fan.

And the shit has hit the fan. Dawson's kid is kidnapped, one of the intelligence division's cops is dead (I jumped out of my chair when that shotgun blast ripped that hole in the door) and the cartel is looking to do even more business in Chicago. How is this going to proceed? Where the heck is it going to go? How bloody is it going to get?

I think it's fascinating how both Fire and PD take place in the same city in the same universe but they feel different. Fire is a little more laid back with quick bursts of action while PD (and, yes, I know this can change as the show progresses) is just non-stop action. It's almost like Dick Wolf is trying to copy the NCIS franchise (NCIS: Los Angeles is an action movie while NCIS is more of a mystery every episode. Think about the number of shootouts that the team on Los Angeles get into every week. It's insane).

Hopefully NBC sticks with Chicago PD. I want to see it keep going. At the moment it's the best new show of the mid-season season.

- Killer Women thoughts: This new ABC drama has plenty of potential, but in its present form it has no chance of becoming a regular show. Why is the lead character, Molly Parker (Tricia Helfer), the only female Texas Ranger, only going after female killers? Is she meant to be a specialized investigator within the Rangers? And if she is why would the Rangers, or really any modern law enforcement agency, want to specialize to that degree? Why are female killers so dang special?

Helfer is good as Parker. I'm not too keen on her back story (she's a good aunt, she's trying to divorce some douchebag, she's having a fling with a DEA agent played by Marc Blucas) but she makes the character work. She's believable in the action scenes and she's charismatic enough to carry a TV show. And she does have decent chemistry with Blucas. So why the hell isn't the show called Molly Parker or Molly Law or something like that?

And is it me or is the show overproduced? The first episode aired by ABC, while generally okay, came off as just trying too hard. What the heck is wrong with slowing things down a tad? I did like the idea of Parker having to juggle multiple cases from different towns at the same time. It would be interesting to see the show explore that a little more. It probably won't, but it would be cool to see anyway.

Killer Women has compelling actors and a potentially cool premise, but it needs to be reworked to take advantage of those things. In its present form Killer Women is just an okay, watchable show. It isn't special, and that's a shame.


The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Babe of the Week: Tricia Helfer


Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 2

- Voodoo Possession: Yeah, this low budget horror flick looks absolutely ridiculous, but Machete hisself Danny Trejo is in it so it's easily rentable. That bleeding wall thing in the trailer does look kind of nifty, though. I have to admit that.

- Vampire Riderz: This movie was apparently known as Speed Demons at one point, but based on the trailer below that version of the movie was released by Phase 4 Films, but this version is being released by 1-2-3-4 Go. TV Blade Sticky Fingaz is in it, as a vampire, so why not? It could be good.

- Greedy Lying Bastards: A documentary about the people who lie about what climate change is actually doing to the world that's titled Greedy Lying Bastards? What a great goddamn idea. I'm shocked that it's taken this long to get a movie made about the subject. Anyone out there see this when it was in theatres (it had a limited run)?


The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week


This week, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week goes to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, for his ridiculous 2 hour press conference in response to the ongoing George Washington Bridge scandal. I know that Christie and his fans in the "liberal" media seem to think that this press conference showed that he is a "different kind of politician" and "full of candor," but that's just bullshit. It's obvious, based on the answers he gave during the press conference, that he knew exactly what was going on with his "overzealous aides" but decided not to do anything about it because he was engaged in far more important stuff, like winning a second term as Governor. And now, because the cat is completely out of the bag the governor has no choice but to fake spill what he knows. It's awful, it's disgraceful, and he should be ashamed of himself. But then when have you ever seen a bully ashamed of himself?

He'll still run for the Republican nomination in 2016. And the "liberal" media will be all about it. He's full of candor and straight talk! Straight talk!

What bullshit.

And then there's the New York Post, for its recent "Elliott Spitzer having sex in public at a family resort" story which turned out to be total bullshit. Instead of issuing a retraction after it was revealed that the story was a bunch of hooey the Post's sensible Democrat Michael Goodwin made a snide remark about it as though it were true (I'm shocked that the incredibly awful Andrea Peyser didn't devote five pages to it). It must be nice to be totally unaccountable to the tenants of journalism and still call yourself a newspaper.


And finally there's the WWE, for making Daniel Bryan a member of the Wyatt family. Is it really that important to bury a mega crowd favorite simply because Vince McMahon didn't "create" him? How does that make any sense?

And I'm not a fan of this WWE Network thing. I know it's hip and edgy and ballsy to create a streaming network and it could change the industry and all the rest of it, but I would have preferred to see the company put together an actual TV channel. I know TV is the past and unhip and whatnot but why not team up with Comcast/Universal and put something together there? If I can get a "Universal Sports" channel, why can't I get a channel devoted to pro wrestling?



NASCAR and Indycar thoughts

The NASCAR Sprint Cup series and Nationwide series finally got pre-season testing underway at Daytona last week. Fox Sports 1 and 2 carried some of the testing sessions live and I actually got to watch some of them. It's lame to admit, yes, but I think it's nifty seeing the various cars in different "testing" paint schemes and whatnot. Jeff Gordon's car was sharp as heck.

I didn't see NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace pilot Brad Keselowski's car, although from what I've read about the test Wallace got up to speed quickly. I don't think this test is precursor to Wallace coming out of retirement to run a limited schedule or anything like that, but I'm sure NASCAR would love to have everyone think that's in the cards. It would, allegedly, "make for a good story."

Napa is returning to NASCAR, sponsoring Chase Elliott in the Nationwide Series. Elliott will be driving for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in Nationwide, which should be a potent combination. I'm a little surprised, though, that Napa didn't announce that it also planned on sponsoring Earnhardt, Jr. himself in Sprint Cup. He's still the most popular driver in the series, so why wouldn't you want to be involved with him?

Over in Indycar, the big news at the moment is Bobby Rahal's team's search for a second driver. As seen on SB Nation, Rahal Letterman Lanigan is allegedly looking at hiring a veteran driver (Oriol Servia, Justin Wilson, and Alex Tagliani are the names apparently in the mix) because his son Graham needs a solid teammate to help him out. RLL supposedly has major sponsorship coming from the National Guard, but for whatever reason the team can't announce officially that it has that sponsorship. That money should help bring in the best available driver. If the National Guard deal doesn't come together the second driver is going to have to bring his own. I'm going to assume that that would limit the possible driver pool.

The Chili Bowl is this Saturday night at 8:30pm on MAVTV. It's going to be awesome. If you have access to MAVTV be sure to give the Chili Bowl a shot. It'll be worth your time. You can record the Screen Actors Guild show and watch that Sunday. That's what I'm going to do.

Chili Bowl! Chili Bowl! Chili Bowl! Yeah!


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.

And don't forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

9 Deaths of the Ninja

Sho Kosugi- Spike Shinobi
Brent Huff- Steve Gordon
Emilia Lesniak- Jennifer Barnes
Blackie Dammett- Alby the Cruel
Regina Richardson- Honey Hump
Vijay Amritraj- Rankin
Kane Kosugi- Kane
Shane Kosugi- Shane
Sonny Erang- Rahji
Jacques Gervais- Congressman Morrison

Directed byEmmett Alston
Screenplay by Emmett Alston

Distributed by Crown International Pictures and Mill Creek Entertainment

Rated R for violence, language, and nudity
Runtime- 94 minutes

Buy it here


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