Wednesday, June 29, 2011

June 28 - Born a Ninja (1987)

The cover of my VHS copy of Born a Ninja

Born a Ninja (1987)

Director: Lo Gio
Format: VHS (City Lites)

Talk about a hard movie to research. I looked up the name on IMDB and was taken to a Godfrey Ho movie from 1989, but the plot outline didn't gel at all. Then I looked up the director and actors... nothing. A google search turned up a few random snippets of information, but they left me even more confused than when I started.

What I do know from watching this Hong Kong movie is that it's a Godfrey Ho-type cut and paste job. The main plot is about a guy named Tanaka who is trying to get hold of a formula, while some bad guys are also after it. This part would seem to come from a TV series or movie called Born Invincible, which might be a sequel to something called both Risky Commando and American Commando Ninja. The reason I'm not sure if it's a movie or TV series is the camerawork, lighting and film stock all point to TV rather than a movie.

The other part has a camoflaged ninja fighting a white ninja. The origin of this material I'm not sure. Given his cut and paste job it is entirely possible that "Lo Gio" is Godfrey Ho (who is renowned for c&ping bits of movies into incoherent messes - see my review of Instant Rage). The on-screen credits list Joseph Lai as a producer and Steven Soul as the writer, and they both worked a lot with Ho, so I'm going with that theory, although there is a noticable absence of Richard Harrison, Ho's go-to guy for dozens of flicks in the late 80s.

But let's put all of that aside, along with our brains, because Born a Ninja is one fantastically-crazy mess of a movie. Forget about trying to figure out what the hell is going on with the plot and just enjoy what's happening on screen, and there's a whole heapin' helpin' of fun to be had here.

There's lots of 80s fashions (bright fluoro clothing, bad hair and makeup) to giggle at, the music almost never fits what is happening on screen and there are more over-dramatic extreme close-ups than in your average Mexican soap opera.

Here are just some of the other highlights:
- One of the ninjas can not only disappear in a puff of smoke, but he can also disappear and replace himself instantly by a straw dummy!
- Lots and lots of slow motion and wacky sound effects!
- A dude breathing fire (not like a firebreather performer, like a dragon!)
- Some kind of hand-off goes down between two guys sitting in bumper boats!
- A guy catches the blade of a sword in his mouth, then deep-throats it without any effect!
- One of the girls looks like an Asian Valley girl, but her dubbed-in voice is uber-posh English!
- "Hey Larry, great job, two chicks at the same time" (a similar one-liner to one in Instant Rage, again convincing me this is a Godfrey Ho flick).
- Two ninjas fighting in front of a waterfall (another similarity with Instant Rage).

I really have to reiterate that those are just some of the highlights. There's so much happening on screen of the WTF variety that by the time the movie ends (without credits) you're left slack-jawed wondering what on earth just happened.

I'm not sure how easy this one is to find (I doubt it's on DVD), but it's a must for any fan of bizarre, nonsensical ninja flicks.


Anonymous said...

Funny, I was just looking up this film, as I think I've watched American Commando Ninja enough, srsly I show it everyone. Gotta get my hands on this.

fletchanator said...

If you can get hold of a copy of this, it's definitely a lot of fun. Thanks for the tip on American Commando Ninja - is it on DVD?

Anonymous said...

If you could connect me at I'd be much appreciative.

I have American Commando Ninja (aka Commando the ninja) on DVD but I bought this film in the UK and it's cut (plus the tape was damaged).

Anonymous said...

hey man I do not see the download link

Anonymous said...

I use to love this movie as a kid I use to rent it all the time at my video store...and I remember there was a sequel to this movie I use to rent that one too but can't remember the name it was a totally different name....I can't believe I use to love these movies as a kid