Posts Tagged ‘cannon

30
Dec
15

Revenge of the Ninja (1983):Battle Without Honor or Pants

revenge_of_ninja_poster_01

a Primal Root written review

“Only a ninja can stop a ninja.” – Sho Kosugi, Revenge of the Ninja

Holy shit, who doesn’t love a no holds barred, ball the the wall, bone crunching, spirit smashing, head splitting ninja flick? There are a handful of truly damn fine ninja flicks that immediately spring to mind. Flicks like Ninja in the Dragon’s Den (1982), Ninja bugeicho momochi sandayu aka: Shugun’s Ninja (1980). But the majority of ninja movies were kind of rinky dink, low budget Trash Cinema weirdness, many released by the kingpins of bargain basement oddities, Cannon Films in the 1980’s. Offerings like American Ninja (1986), Enter the Ninja (1981), Ninja III: The Domination (1984), etc. Thankfully for these sort of flicks, the goofier it gets, the more entertaining it often becomes. Case in point, 1983’s Revenge of the Ninja.

Revenge of the Ninja, Hell, the plot is right the in the title! So you know exactly what you’re in for the moment you sit down to watch this sucker. After a long standing feud ends with his entire family (men, women, children, grandma, grandpa, dogs, cats, etc.) brutally butchered before the opening credits by a swarm of merciless ninja assassins, Cho Osaki (Sho Kosugi) takes his surviving infant son and his wise old Mama to the United States of America to start a gallery for little geisha dolls and begin life a new in the land of opportunity.

sho-kosugi-4

Only thing is, to the total ignorance of Cho, his white bread yuppie all American Capitalist best buddy is using the doll gallery as a front for his heroin smuggling operation which is in cahoots with an incredibly dangerous Yakuza syndicate in Japan and a local mob cartel. Once this betrayal is revealed to Cho, he realizes that no matter how far her runs, or where he hides, the shadow of his ninja past will always fall upon him and those he loves.

Just like the old guard of ninja films in the 1970’s, Sonny Chiba, Sho Kosugi carried the torch and carved ninja terminology onto 1980’s martial arts lexicon and maintained his dignity throughout a career that spanned movies such as The Godfather part II (1974) (where he played Passerby in Coat with Cap Pulled Down) to The Bad News Bears Go to Japan (1978) to Blind Fury (1989) and Ninja Assassin (2009). Kosugi gives the character of Cho Osaki a strong presence all at once badass and impenetrable and also incredibly empathetic. You can’t help but root for the guy.

Revenge of the Ninja is far and away the cream of the crop when it comes to American brand Shinobi flicks  of the 1980’s. The movie is is heavy on the unrelenting action sequences and the whole thing rolls out like a Double Dragon video game. Seriously, if you have a stop watch you can try it at home, there’s an action just about ever 5-7 minutes during the films run time. You paid for ninja carnage? Revenge of the Ninja understand and delivers a buffet of all you can eat martial arts awesomeness. Revenge of the Ninja faithfully adheres to the chopsocky action formula where every single new setting is pretty much guarantees that there’s some goons hiding right around the corner ready to get a brawl started.

BpMnbwa

One of the stand out battles takes place in a crowded public park replete with an extensive jungle gym. Cho has gotten word that there’s a gang that hangs out there who might have information regarding his kidnapped son and who vandalized his doll gallery. Sure enough, Cho shows up in broad daylight and confronts this gang of thugs, who look just like the alternate dimension evil version of The Village People and the extended fight is on! Cho kicks everyone’s ass, and no information is gained, the plot is not furthered, the movie just had to kick some ass for a while and MAN is it spectacular.

There’s also a pretty outstanding chase sequence where Sho is on foot chasing down a van filled with thugs. The guy leaps over walls in a single bound, runs atop cars, barreling none stop in pursuit of the speeding van, determined to get his stolen heroine dolls back. Cho ends up JUMPING THROUGH the windshield of the van where he beings battling the occupants. That is, until Cho is thrown from the van, grabs onto the bumper and is dragged behind on his knees for several city blocks transforming his slacks into daisy dukes and leaving the poor mans legs a ravaged, bloody mess.  The stunts and fight choreography are still awe inspiring even by today’s standards. Shit, if this were to be made today all these stunts and shit would require computer assistance. Revenge of the Ninja serves up the real deal.

vlcsnap-2012-07-20-13h11m32s240-1024x550

Also, there’s a jaw dropping final battle atop a city high rise that’s quite elaborate, if not a little chuckle worthy due to the Wile E Coyote nature of the battle. It;s on the rooftop and over the top and includes a leaping battle on a tennis court and an odd bit of battling in a hot tub… Trust me, it’s remarkable. Every ninja tick in the book is here and accounted for.

The entire film is caked in blood with plentiful amounts of nasty, gory deaths. Bones are broken, faces mangled and blood splashes across the screen, all in good fun. But, for me. the highlight of the whole film is when Cho spares with a young and eager blonde woman looking to get pummeled below the belt by her Sensei, if you know what I mean, and I think you do. She shows up to spare wearing NO PANTS OR PANTIES! Even Cho makes note of this when he remarks, “Well, if you wanna work out, you forgot your pants! ” to which his student, Cathy, retorts, “You really think I forgot?” and they end up sparing for a little bit as she’s flashing her snatch the entire time! Gang, this is cinematic gold of the trashiest proportions. I mean, how many bottomless training scenes have you witnessed? It’s really wonderful stuff.

MSDREOF EC181

REVENGE OF THE NINJA, 1983, (c)Canon Films

What’s also worth mentioning is that one of Kosugi’s son’s, Kane Kosugi, made his film debut here as Cho’s little boy and ninja attack survivor turned martial arts wizard and eventual hostage, Kane Osaki. Kane has a pretty hysterical battle with a group of school bullies on his way home with his grandmother. He ends up whooping every single one of them before his Father catches on and he gets scolded for being awesome. Kane is still enjoying a pretty damn healthy career these days with titles such as Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), Ninja: Shadow of a Tear (2013) and Muscle Heat (2002) under his belt.

Revenge of the Ninja is actually the second installment of the Ninja franchise Cannon Films produced. It began with Enter the Ninja (1981) starring a poorly dubbed over Franco Nero of Django fame as the ninja who enters and the trilogy ended with the laughably bizarre Ninja III: The Domination (1984) where an aerobics instructor ends up being possessed by an evil ninja from beyond the grave. We’ll talk about those flicks some other time. 😉 As far as I’m concerned, Revenge of the Ninja is the Empire Strikes Back of the series.

revenge-6

Revenge of the Ninja is a finely tuned, gore drenched thrill a minute action film and a damn fine example of the genre.Well directed by Cannon Films veteran Sam Firstenberg, scored strikingly, catchy score courtesy of Rob Walsh and a damn near perfect screenplay James R Silke, Revenge of the Ninja is among the very best examples of pure, unadulterated Trash Cinema martial arts action.  And you won’t even need your pants and panties to enjoy it.

You GOTTA see Revenge of the Ninja.

I’m awarding this sucker FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets.

Stay Trashy!

-Root

09
Feb
14

(NSFW) The Naked Cage (1986): Women on the Verge of a Nervous Shanking

naked cage

a Primal Root written review

What is the appeal of a women in prison movie? Could it be the hardened women struggling for power and survival behind bars? The depiction of corrupt officials and politics behind prison walls and how it mirrors our own government? Or is it simply the fact we are almost guaranteed some gratuitous female shower scenes? I ask you, why can’t it be all of the above?

“The Naked Cage”, directed by Paul Nicholas and produced by Cannon, marks what many consider to be among the last truly great women in prison flicks, a genre that became popular and peaked in the mid to late 1970’s.  “The Naked Cage” tells the story of a young, blonde, nubile bank teller and bareback horse rider, Michelle (Shari Shattuck) who ends up getting sentenced to three years in a vicious women’s prison after her bonehead, coke head ex-husband decides to pull a stocking over his head and rob the bank where Michelle works. Of course, none of this would have happened if Michelle’s ex hadn’t recently gotten mixed up with the sexy, murderous, psychotic escaped convict, Rita (Christina Whitaker) who likes killing cops and having cocaine snorted off of her nipples (true story). Michelle ends up unwittingly getting pulled into the heist, which ends in a bizarre getaway that consists of driving around the bank parking lot several times and then in blood, and is thrown in jail after Rita testifies that Michelle was the ringleader of the heist. Me thinks Michelle should get herself a better lawyer.

Michelle takes her sentencing in stride, maintains a good attitude and makes friends quickly with her fellow inmates including her bunk mate and former junky Amy (Stacey Shaffer) and the badass,  muscular behemoth , Sheila (Faith Minton) who runs things on their cell block.  However, Michelle doesn’t quite see eye to eye with the prison’s warden, Diane (Angel Tompkins from one of my favorites, “The Teacher”) who conducts bizarre lesbian BDSM sex games with whichever inmates tickle her fancy. Also on the loose is a sadistic prison guard known as Smiley (Nick Benedict) who takes great pleasure in raping and then murdering female inmates before trying to pass it off as suicides. He justifies this to the warden by explaining “This job is shitty, I might as well do something I enjoy!” It’s not an exact quote, but something along those lines…

I wonder if the warden in "The Shawshank Redemption" ever had Andy dress like this and rub his shoulders?

I wonder if the warden in “The Shawshank Redemption” ever had Andy dress like this and rub his shoulders?

Life behind bars doesn’t treat Michelle that bad, at first. But soon, Rita is released from the hospital, where she was recovering from the bank robbery car chase, and is thrown into prison on the same cell block as Michelle. Rita and Warden Diane join forces and once Rita takes down Sheila, the Warden gives Rita the go ahead to enact her revenge on Michelle. Revenge for what, exactly? Not so sure, seeing as Michelle had little to nothing to do withe the bank robbery turning into a bullet riddled botched bloodbath.  I have this feeling Rita might be projecting her own feelings of inadequacy and failure as a bank robber on to Michelle. Listen, killing Michelle won’t change the fact that you robbed a bank after snorting a mountain of cocaine, let your getaway car get blocked in, and then drove a stolen car in circles around the bank’s parking lot while the police unloaded their weapons into it and you.  Honey, that’s nobody’s fault but yours.

Rita quickly turns the prisons order of power on it’s head, dispatching those who protect Michelle, and turning her closest friends against her.  But Michelle is far more cunning than Rita realizes. As the tables turn, Michelle learns to rely on herself and takes dead aim at Rita and during a violent, awesome prison riot, the two meet in one of the down and dirtiest female convict cat fights I’ve ever seen.

naked_cage_flc_07

“The Naked Cage” is a glorious, spitfire of a women in prison film. One of the very last of a dwindling, glorious Drive-In culture. What really sets it apart is that, despite the conventions and obligatory women in prison cliches, is that “The Naked Cage” takes the time to create so really interesting, believable characters. It pulls off one of those rarest of  exploitation tricks where the viewer ends up actually liking characters and are genuinely saddened when certain folks end up being killed off.  By this point in Trash Cinema history, the women in prison genre had become more satirized and played for laughs or simply to titillate an audience rather  than deliver genuine dramatic story telling. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with the formerly mentioned brand of women in prison flick, Hell, I love a good goofy romp through a prison filled with nekkid women. Sure, there’s some campy, goofy bits in “The Naked Cage” like the exceedingly awkward scenes with Angel Tompkins rotating her shoulders topless with random female inmates in her neon light clad secret love chamber as they seduce one another, but overall the film plays it pretty straight if not a little over the top. There is something to be admired about a movie of this breed that does all it can to tell a convincing crime story on an exceedingly low budget and not fall back on cheap laughs.  “The Naked Cage” is bold, goes for the your throat and doesn’t let up. Damn fine stuff and one Hell of a send off to a once proliferating genre.

Oh, and there are plenty of shower scenes and gratuitous full frontal nudity.

I give “The Naked Cage” Three and a Half out of Five Dumpster Nuggets

Stay Trashy!

-Root




Dumpster Diving

Categories