Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ninja Week: Ninja Strikes Back!

How can you strike back when you're the one that's attacking in the first place?  This Bruce Le film is pretty much a lie from start to finish.  Bruce Le stars in and actually wrote this film, although this is hardly the kind of film you brag about.  Essentially, it's a vaguely-connected series of action scenes that take place in numerous countries.  Is there an overall plot?  Yes, but it's a bit scatter-shot and pretty much just a pretense for travel.  Since I can't talk about a lot else, however, I'll have to make do with that.  Oh yeah, I hope you like the non-copyright use of music and sound effects too.  Cover your eyes and throat as the...
The film begins with Bruce Le playing a card game that goes awry & a fight breaks out.  Does it have any impact on the plot?  Nope.  Bruce joins up with his partner to rob some guys that are doing, um, something.  Unfortunately, the police show up and Bruce agrees to take the fall while his partner escapes.  This leads to our credit sequence which consists of  still shots of Bruce awkwardly-placed over title cards while the music from Enter the Dragon plays.  You're already a Bruce-ploitation actor- don't make it worse!  He gets out of jail some vague amount of time later and decides not to work in crime anymore.  Despite being in prison and never ratting his boss out, the guy now thinks that he's going to do just that.  Logic, anyone?  This leads to some more fights as Bruce is forced to battle his old friend.  In an unrelated plot that later is sewn in, a diplomat's daughter is kidnapped by The Guy That Played Oddjob and Bolo Yeung.  The former has a giant, metal hand and the ability to transpose it over what appears to be a rear projection of another Bolo Yeung film...
Nope, no ninjas yet.  Instead, Bruce teams up with a pair of Detectives to help track down the girl.  His motivation is even greater when his girlfriend is killed by a sniper who was aiming for him.  Oh no, I barely knew you, convenient plot device!  After some more fight scenes and chases, we learn that the girl was taken by Sakata and Yeung to China.  In a truly surreal scene with context, the father- played by the film's Producer Dick Randall- writes a check funding Bruce's trip!  Conveniently enough, the villains taker her to Bruce's hometown!  Oh good, you have time to save the girl and visit your mother.  Unfortunately, all is not well in town.  In a flashback, we see that Bruce's sister was kidnapped by, you guessed it, Sakata and Yeung.  By the way, in this and every scene with Sakata, they play a 20-second loop of the James Bond theme.  It's as sad as you might think.  At a graveyard, ninjas finally show up.  They're striking first- as noted in the beginning- but at least they're striking. If you like your ninja films without ninjas, wait until tomorrow.
Bruce and a family friend get a boat to take them to the island of Sakata.  To see the fate of their boat driver, check out a future entry in Poor Bastards of Cinema.  They fight some more ninjas- who make their final appearance here- and battle Bolo Yeung.  He goes down pretty easy, but at least he got to fight a guy who was pretending to be Bruce Lee here.  They get on the boat that Sakata is fleeing on with the woman and Bruce gets to battle the guy.  In a truly bad-ass and confusing moment, Sakata's metal hand gets stuck in the wall and Bruce punches it off!  He also throws his hat, but you could have probably guessed that.  Back home, all is well...until the other plot catches up to them.  In a moment right out of Return of the Dragon, Bruce Le fights his old friend in the Colliseum.  It could be worse- Jean Claude Van-Damme could be fighting Mickey Rourke in there!  NOW the day is saved and all is well.
Oh where, oh where has my ninja gone?  The plot(s) of this movie are silly, generic and just sort of there.  We start out with a 'Betrayed by his Boss' plot, but that turns into a 'Damsel in Distress' plot.  I love how they completely forget about the other plot until they get back home!  It's even funnier because they just bring the woman home in time for her to be kidnapped within minutes!  Seriously, she gets home and gets kidnapped when she goes upstairs.  You're worse off than Princess Peach.  Aside from the goofy nature of the plot and stolen musical cues, the movie is a pretty standard action film.  If you like those films, you'll gets some fun out of this one.  It would have been nice to get a more coherent plot out of this, but no such luck.  By the way, this was the Bruce-ploitation film that Randall was working on when he also Produced Pieces.  Now you know...assuming that you care.  If you can get past the severe deficit of actual ninjas, this is worth a look.
Next up, David Heavener has competition for the worst ninja.  Watch how a 'can't lose' premise manage to really, really lose!  Stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. As I recall, it was "the ninja" who kidnapped the diplomat's daughter and for whom Oddjob and Bolo toil, and whose identity is kept a big (but predictable) secret until near the end. For my taste, there are just enough ninjas to make this already giddily cheesy film extra cheesy and enjoyable.