The TSL’s Horror Grindhouse: Ninja III: The Domination (dir by Sam Firstenberg)


This 1984 film is brilliant.

Basically, it tells the story of Christie Ryder (Lucinda Dickey), who appears to have everything that someone could want out of life.  Not only does she have a really nice place to live but she also repairs phone lines for a living!  (That might not sound glamorous but she lives in California, which means that there’s always a nice view when she’s working.)  She also teaches an aerobics class because this film is from 1984 and, in 1984, everyone taught their own aerobics class.  At least, that’s the impression that I’ve gotten from watching movies of the era.

Christie only has one problem.  She’s been possessed.  She hasn’t been possessed by any ordinary old demon, either.  Instead, she’s been possessed by a dead ninja.  Hanjuro (David Chung) came to America because there were some people on a golf course who needed to be killed.  Unfortunately, no sooner had he killed everyone on the back 9 then he found himself surrounded by cops.  It took a lot of bullets to take down Hanjuro but down he went.  However, his spirit went up and entered Christie’s body.

Now, Christie spends her time teaching aerobics, working on phone lines, and murdering everyone who Hanjuro feels has wrong him.  Hanjuro wants to kill all of the cops who shot him.  Unfortunately, one of those cops, Billy Secord (Jordan Bennett), is now dating Christie.  Once Billy finally figures out why Christie is acting so strangely, he takes her to an exorcist (James Hong) who explains that it’s going to take more than just an ordinary exorcism to defeat the ninja lurking within Christie.  It’s going to require the help of another ninja, the noble Goro Yamada (Sho Kosugi).  It’s time to go to Japan!

I may not be a huge ninja movie fan (unless, of course, they feature Franco Nero) but I have to say that I absolutely loved Ninja III.  That really shouldn’t come as a surprise.  This film is such an utterly weird mishmash of tones and genres that there’s no way that I couldn’t love it.  It starts out as a typical kung fu film, just to suddenly turn into The Exorcist before then becoming Flashdance before returning to being The Exorcist.  Finally, for the last few minutes of the film, it transforms back into a kung fu film.  As I watched the film, I found myself thinking about all of the other films throughout history that could have been livened up by a demonic or spiritual possession subplot.  For that matter, think about how much more crazy The Exorcist would have been if Father Karras and Father Merrin had been Ninja Karras and NInja Merrin.

Anyway, in all seriousness, Ninja III is exactly what an exploitation film should be.  It’s unapologetically strange and over-the-top and it makes absolutely no apologies for being what it is.  It’s a film that says, “I’m here to tell a story about a woman possessed by a dead ninja and if that’s not good enough for you, you need to figure out what’s wrong with your heart.”  Ninja III is brilliant, wonderful, and definitely a film that you must watch this October.  It’s on Prime so go watch it.  Do it now.

A Movie A Day #136: Missing in Action 2: The Beginning (1985, directed by Lance Hool)


Goddamn, dude.  Chuck Fucking Norris.  Even when the movie is terrible, Chuck is cool.

That is especially relevant when it comes to a movie like Missing In Action 2: The Beginning.  Produced by Cannon Films and shot back-to-back with the first Missing in Action, The Beginning was supposed to come out first.  However, Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus took a look at the two movies and realized that The Beginning would work better as the 2nd film in the series.  They were right though some post-production tinkering did lead to some serious errors in continuity.

(Not that anyone watching a Golan/Globus production would be worrying about continuity.)

Did you ever wonder how James Braddock (Chuck Norris) became a POW in the first place?  No?  Missing In Action 2 is going to show you how it happened anyway.  It turns out that he and his men were captured, in 1972, by the Viet Cong when their helicopter crashed into a lake.  At the start of the movie, Chuck only has a mustache.  If Chuck had been fully bearded, there is no way the VC could have captured him.  After Chuck and his men have spent ten years in a jungle prison, where they are forced to pick poppies for a French heroin drug lord, Chuck has grown a full beard and is finally strong enough to escape from the prison, rescue his men, and defeat the sadistic camp commandant (Soon-Tek Oh) in hand-to-hand combat.  None of it is surprising but there’s enough weird stuff, like the prostitutes that the French drug dealer flies into the camp and the Australian journalist who shows up out of nowhere and is executed ten minutes later, to keep it interesting.  Chuck is as stiff as always but he’s good in the action scenes and gets to show off some sweet karate moves towards the end of the movie.  Supposedly, Chuck viewed the Missing in Action films as a tribute to his brother, Wieland, who was killed in Vietnam.

The continuity error has to do with the amount of time that Braddock and his men spend in the camp.  After Chuck is captured in 1972, the film inserts some footage of Ronald Reagan giving a speech about the men who never returned from Vietnam.  A narrator says that the Americans are still wondering what happened to the thousands of soldiers who were reported as being MIA in Vietnam.  The implication is that Chuck and company spent ten years in the POW Camp, which means that they escaped in 1982.  Since it is said, in Missing in Action, that it has been ten years since Chuck escaped, that means that Missing in Action actually took place in 1992.  But if Chuck and the boys escaped and returned to America in 1982 then why, in 1992, was everyone so convinced that all the POWs were released immediately after the Vietnam War?

Fortunately, Chuck Norris is so cool that it doesn’t matter what year it is.

Chuck Norris, man.

Chuck Fucking Norris.