Nine Deaths of the Ninja

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“The Ninja Master … is now the Ninja Avenger!”

In this extremely hot, hot mess of a martial arts anti-epic, Sho Kosugi (Blind Fury), the undisputed king of the ‘80s ninja cinema craze, tackles what is perhaps his wackiest ninja flick in a career littered with wacky ninja flicks. Intended as the unrelated fourth (and final) part of Cannon Films’ Ninja series (which also included Enter the Ninja, Revenge of the Ninja and Ninja 3: The Domination), Nine Deaths of the Ninja ended the quasi-quadrilogy on an appropriately insane, and most likely unintentionally hilarious, note of unbridled weirdness. When wheelchair-bound, eye patch-wearing German terrorist Alby the Cruel (Lethal Weapon’s Blackie Dammett , doing a really terrible Dr. Strangelove impression) uses his team of female soldiers to take a busload of Americans in the Philippines hostage, the U.S. government looks for a team of special anti-terrorist agents to rescue the tourists and capture the bad guys. All-American jock Steve Gordon (Brent Huff, The Perils of Gwendolin), lovely but deadly Jennifer Barnes (Emilia Crow, Hollywood Vice Squad) and of course, martial arts expert Spike Shinobi (Kosugi) are gathered together and sent in to save the day, seeing as how they don’t really have much else going on. It seems Alby is demanding the release from prison of the notorious Rahji, a grinning, drooling idiot of a terrorist who’s so evil, he goes around popping kids’ balloons … just for fun. Once Rahji is released, only our motley crew of ragtag heroes can stop the terrorists, free the hostages and bring peace to the world (or at least the Philippines, where this flick was shot). From the jaw-dropping opening credits sequence featuring Kosugi striking martial arts poses while a bevy of leotard-clad women flail about doing a slow-motion interpretive dance as a fog machine blows smoke in their faces, to the cracked ninja battle finale, (not to mention everything in between, including an attack by an army of bumbling little people, a vicious monkey in a diaper, a bug-eyed villainess named Colonel Honey Hump, etc., etc.), Nine Deaths of the Ninja (bonus points if you can figure out what the title means, even after having seen the movie) really gives you what you want from a bad ninja flick … and then some! (Dir. by Emmett Alston, 1985, USA, 94 mins., Rated R) Digital