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Ninja Showdown (movie review)

Ninjas!! A staple of genre movies in the 80s, how can you not love them! Well, as you know, I came to serious movie watching only later in the game due to my background (yeah, a commie country), but I clearly remember watching American Ninja (also known on bootlegs as American Warrior) with Michael Dudikoff. Great times indeed!

I was so into ninja movies, but obviously, I don’t remember all of them. And it’s probably a good thing, because I can re-watch them again and just have fun. Because back then I took it all very seriously, you know…as much as any innocent 13-year old could.

So just recently I got inspired by great series of articles in Weng’s Chop about (in)famous Godfrey Ho and his cut’n’paste movies and I have developed craving to see as many of his movies as (humanly) possible. And if you know your stuff, then you know he and his colleague Joseph Lai (along with Robert Tai) are responsible for some unbelievable “classics” of the genre.

So today I want to spend some time contemplating on a movie I finally finish yesterday – and it’s Ninja Showdown. As usual, we have basically one unkown movie of Asian production (and I am not sure if it’s Taiwanese or Hong Kong, edit: after some digging, I found it was Taiwanese movie Brother of the Field from 1983), and some segments of pure Godfrey Ho madness added to it to form a brand new movie.

The question now is – how bad is it? Well, of course, if you expect some Hollywood blockbuster here, you clearly don’t have a fucking clue about Godfrey Ho’s movies.

But for the sake of clarity – the movie in question is basically a drama about the young couple who are basically in deep shit from the very beginning to the very end, but as the moral story goes, love conquers all. And that sums it up pretty sufficiently.

Add to it a nonsensical ninja footage shot by Godfrey Ho and you have a winner! OK, maybe not a winner, but most interesting thing here is the actual linking of the original movie with the added footage. This shit is amazing and bordering on mad genius!

We have Ninja master Gordon (played, as usual, by Richard Harrison), walking in the forest, being stalked by two members of evil Pink Ninjas. Those report their finding to their boss. Gordon, apparently, carries the Ninja Sword of Justice (whatever it is) and the Pink Ninja boss just wants Gordon dead. Well, easier said than done, as we will see.

The fights are hilarious! Need to be seen to be believed! Anyway, the setting to the ninja segment is seen in the cry of the young Tony (Gordon’s apprentice in the movie) crying to his mother after being punished (and after being asked, why he hasn’t complained) that he’d wanted to be a ninja. Fucking priceless! I bet the original actor would beg to differ, but alas…we will never know.

The first real tie-in for the ninja footage is Gordon sending his disciple home, but asking him to play him some song on some weird violin-like instrument…and we see that Tony plays the same instrument! Now that alone is worth the price of the movie!

Of course, we will encounter a few more ninja segments, mainly Gordon fighting and killing evil ninja on his way..somwhere. And don’t forget the scene of topless Richard Harrison practicing with the sword. You know, it has occurred to me – did he ever suspect what kind of a movie will he be featured in? Because from the concentration his face betrays, I doubt that. Otherwise he would probably fall on the ground laughing (but then, he blames Ho for ruining his acting career, so probably he wouldn’t).

Second tie-in is the evil ninja being sent to get some evil thugs to collect the racket money from the village (and we see thugs later beat Tony’s rival, Bobby, and his gang). It keeps nicely interweaving into the main movie, but we’re not done yet, as we see footage of ninja master Gordon giving spiritual advice to Tony during his hard times…well, not that it helps, as in the end Tony still got beaten, but the real finish is the fight between our two ninja masters. Of course, you know which one wins. And then – the abrupt end.

Hmm…this is clearly that category of movies you can’t really rate unless you appreciate the sheer audacity of Godfrey Ho to make something like this in the first place. Of course, there are dull moments, but Ninja Showdown and other pastiche movies are carried on silly dialogues and totally ridiculous tie-ins.

But still…I want to be a ninja!!!!!!!

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Rudolf Schütz

A father to two little perpetuum mobiles called kids, Rudolf is a main force behind The Rubber Axe webzine, a bookworm, musick lover and a movie fan - not to mention his virgin forays into the comics and board/card games.

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