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Ninja III: The Domination

tn_ninjaiiiA few years ago when I wrote about ENTER THE NINJA and REVENGE OF THE NINJA I know everybody told me I had to watch part 3 and it was hilarious and all that. And I always intended to get to it but see I was on a serious ninja kick, I wanted real ninja action and not just some dumb bullshit to laugh at because a girl from BREAKIN’ gets possessed by a ninja.

But forgive me, man. I was on the outside. There was no way to really know without seeing it that NINJA III is a must-see.

mp_ninjaiiiPart III has nothing to do with part 2 or 1, which also have nothing to do with each other, except that they all are a combination of asinine crap and awesome ninja shit, and they all have the great Sho Kosugi playing different ninja characters. What’s special about this one is the weird mix of ingredients. It’s got some supernatural THE EXORCIST shit in there, it’s got lots of goofy dated ’80s shit, and it’s got some seriously great ninja mayhem. I guess the appeal is kind of similar to NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER. Maybe not as funny overall, but on the other hand NO RETREAT doesn’t have any action scenes that can compete with the opening assassination sequence here.

The movie opens with a Japanese man (David Chung as “Black Ninja”?) entering a cave, apparently a Secret Ninja Cave where he hides his weapons and costume. He suits up and heads to the golf course to assassinate some scientist who’s golfing with his wife/girlfriend and a whole bunch of bodyguards. It probly would’ve been easier to use a sniper rifle or even a bow and arrow from far away, but he just runs out onto the golf course, shows off by crushing their golf ball in his fist, and starts killing everybody between himself and the target. I don’t know, maybe whoever hired him asked him to make sure this guy knows that he’s being killed by a ninja. That probly costs extra, but might be worth it for some clients.

Anyway, he has to kill the bodyguards, then the couple, then the golf course security that show up, then the cops that show up. It just keeps escalating, and he has to dig deep into his bag of tricks. There’s alot of sword slashing and stabbing, but also shooting a blowdart into the barrel of a gun to cause a misfire, ninja stars, etc. He also manages to cause motorcycles to fly dozens of feet up into the air and crash into lakes like he’s in Hazzard County. (Not coincidentally I noticed Robbie Knievel listed on the credits.)

Once the cops show up he’s on the run just trying to survive. He jumps on top of one of the squad cars and not only stabs the passenger through the roof but also punches through to take out the driver. He climbs up a tall tree and jumps onto a police helicopter. He takes out some officers inside (one by throwing a ninja star with his toes) and causes it to crash. Eventually he’s completely surrounded and they all start shooting him over and over again, and even at that point he does a really cool disappearing trick.

When all is said and done I estimate he killed 2 golfers, 4 bodyguards and 20 cops. But it’s hard to be sure because they drop so easily you gotta assume some of them are playing dead or just unconscious. I believe there were about 10 of those, the non-fatal injured, for an estimated total of 36 victims. For sure he killed a minimum of 10, because that’s how many bodies you can see laying around at the scene of the standoff.

The lesson is, for any of you security guys out there, be sure to check for Secret Ninja Caves (SNCs) within the general vicinity of any golf courses your guy likes to play at.

After that incredible ’80s action opening it sort of turns into a weird horror hybrid, because Lucinda Dickey (the BREAKIN’ saga) is working on the powerlines nearby when the ninja goes down and accidentally gets possessed by his ghost. She lives in an arty/utilitarian apartment with a roommate and also works as an aerobics instructor, which is a complicated enough life, but it will get more complicated as she begins to black out and go on ninja missions to assassinate the cops who shot at the ninja. I guess it’s kind of like a werewolf movie, she knows something’s wrong and starts to realize she’s going out and killing at night. But instead of growing hair and sharp teeth she just takes costumes and weapons from the SNC.

Meanwhile she has a new man in her life. This cop named Billy Secord (Jordan Bennett) keeps trying to ask her out. At first she’s a total jerk to him, saying “Now get this straight, I don’t go out with cops, all right?” as if it was a rule she had decided on long ago. When he offers her a Coke or something she says “Thanks, but I don’t use soft drinks,” which is a weird way of putting it.

But she quickly changes her rule on cops (not soft drinks) and while she’s sleeping with him the closet lights up and a sword floats out. So that’s the type of situation we’re dealing with here. During The Domination she goes out and murders these cops in sleazy situations, like a triple spa murder and a guy playing pool in his boxers and undershirt with shoes and socks still on. When they found the body they probly first thought oh shit, that’s our colleague so-and-so and then wait a minute, did he take his pants off over his shoes? Or did he put the shoes on after taking off the pants?

She figures it’s a health problem, but the doctors can’t help her, they say that “other than your exceptional extra sensory perception” everything is normal. As if ESP is an ordinary health condition, like high blood pressure.

Western medicine having failed her she goes the other direction, she goes to James Hong (Lo Pan from BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA) who chains her up and smokes her out with opium until she turns kinda Linda Blair, kinda EVIL DEAD. Hearing Hong talk to her in Japanese Billy picks out one word:

“I heard ‘ninja.’ I wanna know what the hell that is.”

Not only does he learn what the hell that is, he learns that “only a ninja can kill a ninja” (like only a silver bullet can kill a werewolf) and lucky for everybody there is a ninja with an interest in killing this particular ninja. His name is Yamada (Sho Kosugi) and he wears a cool eyepatch, which of course means that the Black Ninja took his eye and he wants revenge for spoiling his chances at seeing AVATAR the way James Cameron meant it to be seen.

Obviously they’re gonna have to magically pull the ninja out of her or something but first she gets possessed some more. At one point there’s a haunting going on in her crib so, in the proud 1980s tradition, she turns on some cheesy electric guitar music real loud and furiously dances by herself. It seems to help, but it doesn’t cure her. The ninja is still in there planning to kill all the cops, including her boyfriend.

And he’s gonna have a good opportunity: “the funeral.” One of the other officers is worried that Billy’s one of those guys who ignores all his buddies as soon as he gets a girl, so he says, “I know the lady’s beautifu, but don’t forget the funeral.” It’s not clear which of the 20 murdered cops the funeral is for, or why it isn’t a bigger deal, or why there aren’t that many of his fellow officers there, or why Billy thinks it”s okay not to wear his uniform. But it is clear that it’s a good place for the girl to turn into a ninja and try to kill everybody. Man, ninjas are cold, killing people at funerals. I’ve always been against that.

There’s some more good action at the climax, including but not limited to yanking a guy off a motorcycle, and clubbing an innocent tombstone. Yamada chases the ninja into a building and come on man, when are people gonna learn to check the ceilings for ninjas? Ninjas always hide above you, it’s very predictable. Yamada of all people should know this, he’s a ninja and probly hides on the ceiling all the time himself. Think, man. Where would you hide if you were a ninja, which you are?

I shouldn’t criticize Yamada though, I like the guy. He jumps through the ceiling. Just right through it, breaks through the wood. You gotta respect that.

At the climax the Black Ninja is stabbed and his body spins and drills into the ground, causing an earthquake. helpful hint: only a grappling hook can save you from a ninja earthquake.

The action in this is equal to or greater than many worthwhile Cannon films, but it stands out because of the bonus weirdness factor. I mean, this girl lives in an apartment with a big wooden spool (like for cable wire) as a table, concrete brick walls, a bed made of metal girders, a construction helmet hanging on the wall. It’s a small place but she must do okay between fixing power lines and teaching aerobics because she can afford an arcade video game called “Bouncer”, which later becomes haunted.

Another sign that it’s the ’80s: she has one of those Nagel prints on her wall. And she spends alot of the movie in spandex or leg warmers, doesn’t wear pants too often. She enjoys Folger’s Crystals Instant Coffee and yogurt, both products that still exist, but how often do you see them showcased on film? And there’s a part where she pours V8 on herself. Some of you may be too young to remember, but in the ’80s it was considered extremely erotic to pour V8 on yourself. Ask your parents about it.

Also of note: the opening has a credit for “synth score.” Not “original music” or anything like that, it’s “synth score.” I thought that was cool.

Director Sam Firstenberg returned after REVENGE OF THE NINJA. He later did AMERICAN NINJA 1-32, AVENGING FORCE, AMERICAN SAMURAI, OPERATION DELTA FORCE, etc. Working with Lucinda Dickey here must’ve got him the job of BREAKIN’ 2: COME ON GUYS YOU KNOW THE SUBTITLE I’M NOT GONNA SAY IT. The writer is James R. Silke, who did REVENGE OF THE NINJA, AMERICAN NINJA and KING SOLOMON’S MINES.

Wait a minute, they never did say why the ninja assassinated the scientist, did they? I wonder if that’s who killed the electric car?

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VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 8th, 2010 at 12:58 am and is filed under Action, Horror, Martial Arts, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

34 Responses to “Ninja III: The Domination”

  1. Genius review Vern. Got to check this one out for myself.

  2. Vern, you should check out a new movie called Target Practice – one of the best low-budget action movies to
    come along in a while.

  3. This is the first ninja movie i ever saw. That cheesy erotic scene turned me on when i was a little kid.

  4. I remember renting this in the 80’s, but it must have been heavily cut here in Norway ’cause I don’t recall anything cool about it. Pray for Death was always my favorite Kosugi movie, and compared to that I guess everything seemed a bit tame. Haven’t seen any of them lately, though…

  5. Nice review.

    I mis-read that last credit for James R. Silke as KING SOLOMON’S NINJA. A movie which should exist, in my opinion.

  6. I don’t think any film with the word “Ninja” in the title can truly live up to its premise (at least I’ve never seen one. FTR film titles with “Dragon” in them are usually good. Film titles with “ninja” in them are usually bad.) But damn if you haven’t converted me on this one, Vern. I now want to see “Revenge of the Ninja” and this one.

    Incidentally, I just checked out “Vintage Ninja” from the “links” section to see what it had. I gotta admire the dediction the administrator has put in, but some of the stuff they’ve come up with is pretty weird.

    Take “Ninjas attack San Francisco”. That’s a weird choice for a place for ninjas to attack, in my opinion. For starters, I’ve never been to San Francisco but I understand it’s a pretty big place. You’d need, practically speaking, a freaking ARMY of ninjas to make any serious inroads there. And doesn’t that whole concept defeat the point of them being ninjas at all? You know, the invisible assassin, the silent killer, etc? If I want an army, I’ll watch a Michael Bay movie.

    The second problem I have is that it’s just so overused and so random. Why San Francisco, in particular? Did the producer of the movie live there and have a huge grudge against the neighbourhood he grew up in? Or did he just want the obligatory shot of a fight atop of the Golden Gate Bridge or a bunch of people breaking into / out of Alcatraz? Because I gotta say that shit’s been done to death.

    Why not find a new location for ninjas to attack? “Ninjas attack Seattle”, now that would be freaking awesome. Or, to take the emphasis away from America for a bit, how about “Ninjas attack Mumbai”? One of the world’s most crowded cities gets some new unwanted inhabitants – evil flying sword-fighting Bollywood-dancing assassins of doom!

    (The weird thing is, that movie has probably already been made, although I don’t know what it’s called if so. It would be pretty damn awesome if it actually existed somewhere.)

  7. This is one I’ve been wanting to see for years. Great review!

    Vern, if you are still on a Ninja kick (no pun intended), you should check out The Warrior’s Way before it leaves theaters. It’s not great (definitely hit the matinee) and has way too much boring shit in the middle but the Cowboys vs. Ninjas finale makes it worth it.

  8. Forgive me if this has been mentioned recently (haven’t had chance to visit for a while), but has anyone seen this film? Going by this scene, there’s one character who is definitely due a film of his own:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccF50ssJKVA

    Ignore the worst fight ever title.

  9. It has been a while since I saw yogurt showcased in a film.

  10. For my money, that opening scene is the finest example of ninjing ever captured on film. Maximum ninjation…achieved.

  11. “Ninjas always hide above you, it’s very predictable. Yamada of all people should know this, he’s a ninja and probly hides on the ceiling all the time himself. Think, man. Where would you hide if you were a ninja, which you are?”
    Maybe he figures that the Black Ninja knows that he knows that, so wouldn’t do it to be predictable, but the Black Ninja knows he’d think that so does it?
    Anyway, I agree with the awesomeness of that intro scene. Another unanswered question about it though-how did the cops show up so fast and in such numbers? You’d think someone phoning 911 with reports of a masked man running around a golf course with a sword wouldn’t be taken seriously.

  12. Great review as always, Vern! This month is Ninja Month on my site. Just reviewing Ninja films, and I probably wouldn’t have gotten to this one! It took a bit for me to figure out that all 3 movies form a sort of ninja trilogy. For the longest-ass time I kept looking for Ninjas 1 and 2! Now I feel like a dumbass.

  13. Even in the 80s people were like this is just so 80s. I was one of them, classic VHS rental. I loved the bored cop just edging the coffee cup off the table and Kosugi catches it so fast and the cop rolls his eyes as if to say, don’t tell me your not a ninja death master.

  14. You know thats what I like about you the most Vern, you m laugh. And you like cheesy 80’s movies. Marry me!

    I am going to give this one a try. sounds like a laugh a minute.

  15. Yeah, on the “He’s above you!” question, even Gogo from “Kill Bill” missed that there was somebody (in a bright conspicuous yellow costume, no less) hiding directly above her. Of course, The Bride wasn’t technically a ninja, so the point may be moot.

  16. Oh, I loved kill bill! The Bride was so awesome! Not looking up is cliche. Jason never runs but he still manages to catch up with people.

  17. Jim Bolo –

    Holy Christ, that dude makes the Amazing Mr. No Legs look like a cream puff.

  18. Finally , this is one of those movies we talked about often ,from time to time, in a number of comments section , and it’s great . I still consider it “serious” ninja action for the elbow grease that we can appreciate in the opening and in the action pieces of the movie , but the supernatural element and the weird 80’s touch are welcome additions. The only thing that pissed me off is that Kosugi is never in full ninja costume ( with mask on ) in this one , if I remember right . Oh well , there’s always Pray for Death and that fantastic ninja Helmet . Now that you’ve finished the trilogy , I hope you will someday return to a full-on ninja kick and review Pray for Death , Ninja in the Dragon’s Den and the original Shinobi no Mono movies !

    But , if you want something way more moronic, Vern , please , review Alien Vs. Ninja ! Here’s the review from Vintage Ninja :

    http://vintageninja.net/?p=4150

    Don’t tell me you don’t want to see that shit !

  19. I just checked out the trailer for Alien vs Ninja. ROFLMAO.

    Love the fat guy with the eye patch, lipstick, and fan. I think it was a guy. Meh.

    Flying body chunks. Awesome!

    It looks like they stole the alien from a 70’s caveman movie.

    Ha, Ha. I love bad movies. Got to check this movie out.

  20. Have you guys seen the trailer for Norwegian Ninja?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wNVjI9bJIk

    So awesome.

  21. i loved how they plowed threw the sheep. fecking hilarious!

  22. This sounds like one of the most awesome films ever. No idea if I’ll be able to find it, but now I know I need to start looking.

  23. watched the opening 8 minutes on youTube this morning. As awesome as described. Cheers.

  24. You know what I love? I love when Vern write a genius review and plays with grammar, spelling, words as symbols, syntax, et al in a subtly mind blowing way and then we jump all over that shit and emulate his speaking pattern making his very mannered writing style seem utterly blase, (except that Vern clearly does it better than any of us, otherwise he would be the LexG to whomever’s Jeffery Wells).

    I’d like to imagine that somewhere, someday, someone who doesn’t speak English will find this page and try and learn to read/write the language based wholly on the discussions herein. That dude/tte is gonna be a riot at parties, and do very poorly on job interviews…in my opinion.

  25. Also, easy way to solve the hiding on the ceiling dilemma; walk into every room with your sword already out and held firmly with both hands. That way, if a ninja tries to get the drop on you, he/she-possessed-by-he/she-written-by-Tarantino/Daughter of the Street Fighter, will fall directly onto your sword. Kinda like extreme sepiku. Because obviously old school sepiku just ain’t hardcore enough for the ’10s.

  26. mac : That trailer is awesome , but what I really want to see in AvsN is ninja vs alien fetus , that you can see in the review above ! I want an action figure of that thing .

    And since we’re on the ninja subject , I will mention again Five Element Ninjas a.k.a. Chinese Super Ninjas . It’s a Shaw Brothers Chinese production , but , damn , the action is good in that one.

    On the subject of more serious shinobi movies , I recently saw Samurai Spy and it’s very , very good , if a little slow paced . For ninjas on a mission movie there’s Owl’s Castle , both the original (1963) and the remake (1999) are worth warching .

  27. Is that the same James Silke that wrote those old Death Dealer novels that were inspired by Frank Frazetta’s paintings?

  28. fellas, if you think the opening unadulterated Ninja golfcourse slaughter is glorious 80s action *now*, imagine seeing it back then the first time, as it escalated into vehicular (and helicopter) madness! I’ll never forget watching it with my friends – as each bit escalated in the opening sequence, we just sat there, jaws agape, taking in all the mass ninja-caused destruction. It’s still fun to watch, Lucinda Dickey still seems hot, and Sho Kosugi bustin’ heads together is still kinda funny. God bless Cannon and Kosugi!

  29. If anybodody wants to see the movie here it is full in youtube.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdQldhv_KK4

    I saw the first part. Is terrible… in a bad lame way.

  30. Couple things – First Pray for Death is pretty sweet. I would also recommend Rage of Honor and 9 Deaths of The Ninja (For the opening interpretive dance sequence alone)

    Second, Sam Firstenberg only directed the first two American Ninja movies. Cedric Somethingorother directed the third and fourth one and another guy directed the PG-13 abomination known as American Ninja 5.

    But back to 9 Deaths of The Ninja real quick…and I’m sure I may have posted this before but if you haven’t seen i you’re missing out. BEHOLD!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVQbzklABpM

  31. She scored in the 98th percentile in extra sensory perception instincts!

  32. The original Paul

    June 25th, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    So Vern’s reviewed this one for “Grindhouse”. And I never did get to see it. (My “ninjas vs dragons” rule, as stated above back when I was just “Paul”, has unfortunately held up fairly well.) Some day… if I can find a copy… anywhere.

  33. The original Paul

    June 25th, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    I should really check the comments before posting stuff like that. Thanks Camilo!

  34. Finally caught this on bluray – it’s pretty amazing. (though not totally immune from the typical slow parts that often plague ‘so bad it’s good’ movies). The opening is as awesome as they say it is. The action is great. But what I was surprised about was how strong the story was. Despite being a cheesefest, there’s something inherently intriguing and almost Stephen King-like about the posession plot (seriously, with this and Christine and Freddy’s Revenge, it seems like the 80s were a good time for possessed protagonists) and I loved how the villain was getting revenge one-by-one on the good guys, like The Crow if the The Crow was a bad guy. But I also like how she used her newfound ninja powers for good, like beating the shit out of the broad-daylight attempted rapists next to the gym, whatever that was. Man, I know we all hate reboots but a serious-minded, dark-and-gritty reboot of this would not be the worst thing in the world. (I’d certainly prefer it to some tongue-in-cheek jokey remake)

    Did anyone else get a Terminator 2-esque vibe with the stuff with Kosugi? There’s two super-powered beings from another time/place dropped into LA; they’re the only ones who can harm each other, and keep battling to stalemates/escapes until the end when the human that’s supposed to be protected is the one who ends up helping defeat the villain. Also Kosugi takes special care to only subdue/wound cops unlike the bad guy who kills dozens of them. And to think this movie actually came out BEFORE Terminator 1!

    Actually, not only did this seem to influence T2, but there’s a bit of an Aliens vibe at the end too with the ninja/earthquake scene. That’d be incredible if James Cameron pointed out this movie was a major influence on him.

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