Revenge of the Ninja
The lore of the ninja became something of a craze in America during the '80s, sweeping through second-tier studios and grindhouses after many kung fu flicks were re-titled to exploit American kids' newfound interest in Shurikens and Tabi boots. 1983's Revenge of the Ninja capitalizes on this trend perfectly, and it delivers the perfect sort of ninjasploitation that one could expect from the Menahem Golan/Yoram Globus-owned Cannon Films. Sho Kusogi stars as Cho Osaki, whose family save his infant son and mother are slaughtered by ninjas at the start of the film. Though his mother is against it, Cho decides to move to America on the advice of his friend Brayden (Arthur Roberts) to sell his antique doll art and retire from ninja-ing altogether. But Brayden is using the dolls to import heroin to sell to the mob, and when his latest shipment comes in and mob boss Chifano (Mario Gallo) wants to stiff him on payment, what Chifano doesn't know is that Brayden is also a ninja, and he has deadly ways of exacting revenge. Unfortunately, Cho's kid Kane (Kane Kosugi) witnesses Brayden's evil dealings and gets put in the middle, along with Brayden's girlfriend/kung fu expert Cathy (Ashley Ferarre, looking like a super-sized, silicone-enhanced Naomi Watts) whom Brayden can hypnotize to do what he wants. This forces Cho to use his ninja skills against his best friend and deadliest foe. Directed by Cannon regular Sam Firstenberg, Revenge of the Ninja's action scenes haven't aged particularly well, in part because of the tremendous impact Hong Kong has had on American action movie since there are some scenes of combatants literally waiting for their cues to attack or fall down dead. That said, if the ultimate summer movie is geared towards pleasing prepubescent boys, then Ninja is perfect summer entertainment. Loaded to the gills with action scenes, not five minutes pass without someone getting into a fight be it Cho, his son, or his mother. It all builds up to the climax of an epic ninja vs. ninja fight (both played by Kosugi) after Brayden and Cho use every single tool available to initiate sneaky ninja deaths on the Mafia that's a ten-minute duel to the death on the rooftops of Los Angeles. It's a gloriously perfect piece of brain-dead entertainment. MGM presents the film in full-frame (1.33:1), which shows no noticeable panning and scanning, so it likely is a open-matte transfer, with the monaural audio on a DD 2.0 track. Theatrical trailer, keep-case.