Ninja Day 2010: Revenge of the Ninja (1983) melts my brain with awesomeness
I’m continuing my celebration of Ninja Day all this week with reviews of ninja movies. Today I look at one of the greatest ninja movies of all time, Revenge of the Ninja starring Sho Kosugi.
Revenge of the Ninja is the second in an unofficial “trilogy” of ninja movies by The Cannon Group in the mid-80s. The first movie in that trilogy was Enter the Ninja (1981) and the third movie was Ninja III: The Domination (1984). All of them starred Sho Kosugi. However neither of those movies were anywhere near as good as the middle movie, 1983’s Revenge of the Ninja. Let’s take a walk through this movie’s plot and see all the unbelievably awesome and ridiculous moments contained within.
So, the movie starts in Japan. Sho is there with his wife, young son and parents. Sho is off talking to his friend, Braden, an old white dude, when a group of like 6 ninjas show up and slaughter the family. I’m not sure why the family died, some old ninja master must be jealous of Sho’s bad ass awesomeness and sent his army to kill them all. The movie doesn’t really do a good job of explaining it.
So this group of ninjas come in and kill everyone and then lay in wait for Sho to show up. When he does arrive, they pop out of the bushes and try to kill him by shooting arrows at him. However, these are the worst ninjas ever and they underestimated his grim determination to kick ass and Sho catches two of the arrows in his hand and then catches the third arrow IN HIS MOUTH. Surprisingly, watching Sho catch a ninja arrow in his teeth didn’t cause the ninjas to crap their gi’s and run. However, they must have been out of arrows after this display because they stop shooting and jump out of the bushes to surround Sho instead of just shooting him with his hands and mouth full (like I said, WORST NINJAS EVER). All the better for him to ninja kick some ass.
And Sho does kick their ass rather handily. Afterwards, Sho decides to follow his friend Braden back to America and start over with his young son (who wasn’t killed) and his mother (also survived).
By the way, this is Braden. The old white guy who is also, apparently, a ninja. I guess he lived with Sho’s family for 20 years in Japan and learned their ninjitsu. However, Sho doesn’t realize that Braden is evil and is using Sho to smuggle drugs into the country. Notice Braden’s ninja outfit. It looks like it’s made of silk and he wears a mask underneath his ninja mask. Awesome. And evil.
Braden is working with these also ridiculous gangsters to smuggle heroin into the country through Sho’s Japanese art museum. Obviously, they try to double cross Braden and steal the heroin themselves. What kind of gangster doesn’t use a scantily clad or topless woman as a masseuse? The gay kind.
Anyway, it’s six years after the ninja attack in Japan. Sho’s son, Kane (actual real son Kane Kosugi) is in elementary school. There is a ridiculous but awesome scene in which adorable little Kane in his pink Izod sweater kicks a bunch of older bullies’ asses. I don’t know why it’s in there, but I love that it is.
This is Kathy. She’s the typical 80s blonde. She works at Sho’s museum. And she’s also working for Braden to smuggle the heroin. In her first scene, she shows up in Sho’s family dojo without pants and tries to seduce him. This is the first of many times we see Kathy in skimpy outfits. However Sho turns it into a lesson and begins to spar with her and pretty easily kicks her ass. Of course she holds her own for a bit because everyone in this movie knows some form of martial art.
The gangsters are tired of waiting for Braden to deliver the heroin so they decide to send a team in to steal it. One of the gangster’s goons is a completely ridiculous American Indian stereotype. Seriously, with the buckskin vest and calf length moccasin boots. The head gangster even makes a crack to the Indian about scalping anyone that gets in the way. So, of course, when he fights Sho, the Indian pulls out a couple tomahawks and tries to scalp him. Sho breaks his neck.
So the museum is robbed and Sho needs to find out who was behind it. A friend who’s a cop and, of course, also knows karate, points him towards some ex-cons that may have some info. And these are the worst ex-cons ever. They look like the Village People and they hang out at a public playground. They scoff when Sho asks questions so Sho kicks their table apart with one kick and then proceeds to hand every single one of the hoodlums their own asses back to them as gifts. Sho asks no questions after the ass kicking.
So, Braden, realizing the gangsters may rip him off (FYI, they already did), decides to rob the museum himself as the masked ninja. He comes across grandma, the only one there, and she proceeds to nearly kick his ass. You see, grandma is a ninja, too. Braden fights her for a while and eventually barely prevails and kills her. After killing her, Braden inexplicably takes off his mask to view the dead old lady. Sho’s son Kane shows up just in time to see that the evil ninja is Braden and then barely escapes after fighting a bit with the masked ninja who apparently can almost be beaten by a grandmother and a six year old child.
Next is a truly BIZARRE scene involving this sumo wrestler dude. He is literally in just two scenes and we neither hear nor see anything else about him. In this scene he tries to rape Kathy for like 5 minutes. It’s one of the many attempts by the filmmakers to get Kathy in her underwear. Eventually, Braden in full masked ninja mode walks in and strangles the giant Asian with a chain. He then ninja hypnotizes Kathy to go kidnap Kane and bring him back to the evil lair. The reason I know he’s ninja hypnotizing her his because his eyes glow green when he’s talking to her.
After searching around, Kathy encounters ninja kid in the family dojo and, like father, like son, Kane has a battle with Kathy. Kane actually wins, doesn’t kill Kathy and just walks away. Kathy takes the opportunity of Kane’s back being turned to just run up, grab him and run. Way to go, Kane.
With Kane kidnapped, Sho must don the ninja suit, break the seal on his katana and kick some ass.
Kathy realizes Braden is going to kill Kane so she rebels against him (what else did you expect him to do). Braden then devises a most peculiar way to deal with Kathy. I’m not sure if this is just supposed to kill her, torture her (or us) or what. He ties her into a hot tub and turns on these ridiculously powerful jets in her face. ??? The hell, Braden? We do get another good shot of her later in nothing but her wet top and panties. So that’s a plus.
And then we get to the final fight scene between Braden and Sho. And, to be honest, it’s every bit as awesome as you want it to be. It’s literally like 20 minutes long and Braden is like the MacGyver of ninjas. He pulls so many overly elaborate stunts, you wonder how he does it. It’s insane.
During the fight, Braden pulls the “puff of smoke” disappearing act ninjas are known for. Sho is searching for him and Braden pops up behind him. Sho whips around and supposedly cuts Braden in half with his sword. However, as you can see, it was just a mannequin that Braden awesomely planted in his place before Sho could strike. Oh, and then he disappeared again.
So Sho is looking for Braden again. While circling around a hot tub (there are way too many scenes in this movie involving a hot tub and violence) Sho’s foot is grabbed by a hand from within the water. Sho cuts off the arm, only to discover, again, that’s it’s a fake arm. Braden’s fake limbs 2. Sho’s sword 0.
After having his first mask cut off to reveal the second mask underneath, Braden busts out a portable flame thrower hidden within his suit. Who is designing this guy’s arsenal? A portable flame thrower?! For a ninja?! CRAZY!
Sho finally stabs Braden with a knife and blood comes gushing out of him like a fire hose. It’s not like Sho threw a sword into him from like 20 feet away. Sho just shoved a short blade into Braden’s belly and he exploded like he had a grenade shoved into his stomach while Sho watched. END CREDITS. It was completely ridiculous and over the top and I loved every second of it.
I watched this movie probably a hundred times when I was growing up. It’s been one of my favorites for years but I probably haven’t watched it since the late 80s. I now remember why I loved it so much. This movie is completely absurd but worth every single minute of the 2 hour run time. And right now, it’s available on Netflix Streaming, which is how I watched it. Totally worth it, friends. If you don’t have Netflix Streaming you can watch the entire movie on YouTube in ten parts. See Part I here.
Come back later this week for more ninja reviews. I’ll definitely have one up on Wednesday and one on Friday. Check back to see what ninja movie I review next.