Nine Deaths of the Ninja
Reviewed by Chris Edwards
Rating: 8 Beans
ho Kosugi. Back in the days when you had to rent the VCR as well as the tapes, Kosugi starred in a handfull of B-grade films that revitalized the martial arts genre in America-at least until the inevitable flood of knock-offs and cheap junk swamped the market. They were the ninja movies, and they made Kosugi a superstar. Granted, his stardom was limited to fans of the martial arts, martial arts movies, or both. But it was stardom none the less, with Kosugi gracing the covers of dozens of karate and kung-fu magazine, while martial arts supply stores hawked Sho Kosugi ninja awords, Sho Kosugi ninja stars, Sho Kosugi ninja suits-the man was an industry. But the fad passed, America decided it liked turtle ninjas better, and Sho Kosugi's day was done. He did appear in some fun guilty pleasure movies though. He also starred in one of the absolute worst excuses for a movie I have ever seen.
That movie is "Nine Deaths of the Ninja," one of those movies that makes you wonder if it might not be meant as a joke. Surely no sane group of humans with the mental capacity to set up a movie camera would make something like this.
The plot: A group of terrorists take a busload of hostages, demanding that a comrade be released. Called in to defuse the crisis is the DART team, a crack unit of..three whole people. Kosugi is Spike Shinobi (oh please), whose callsign is "Lollypop" because he likes lollypops. They should make a show about a cop who likes lollypops. Maybe a bald cop...
Anyway, the other actual actor in the thing is Brent Huff, late of "The Perils of Gwendolyn," who plays a macho man whose callsign is...see if you can guess. And then there's this creepily inexpressive blonde woman, whose callsign is "Foxy." Don't ya just love it? This sterling trio takes their cues from Rankin, played by Vijay Amritrage, the Indian tennis pro who turned up in "Octopussy." Huh? What's he doing there? Oh, wait, it says on the box-"Producer-Ashok Amritrage."
Now, at this point I could proceed with a detailed description of the film and it's complex yet stupid plot. But instead, I'd like to tell you just a few of the things that make "Nine Deaths of the Ninja" a special bad film.
*Kosugi was dubbed in most if not all of his films. But at least the dubbed voice sounds kind of Japanese in most of them. Not here. Sho has been dubbed by somebody who sounds like a radio newscaster. This makes for a weird effect.
*Other times, Sho simply has been given no dialogue and can only mime and do takes. He's pretty funny doing this-intentionally, for once.
*Unintentionally funny is a scene in which Sho is held at gunpoint in the back seat of a helicopter. He quickly attacks and kills the gunman. Nobody notices. They land and take on a passenger. Nobody notices the corpse in the back. Quickly, Sho opens the rear door and dumps the body. Still, nobody notices a thing. And the scene goes on and gets dumber and funnier.
*In one fight scene, Sho squares off against a quartet of snarling midgets. He wins, if you're wondering. Later on, Sho fights disguised as an old man, for some reason. Later on, Sho's attacked underwater by a pair of female divers. One he incapacitates by taking the scuba mouthpiece out of her mouth. Can't she just put it back? The other, though, he takes out by yanking off her bikini top. Is he trying to embarass her to death?
*As in a lot of Kosugi's films, his young sons Kane and Shane Kosugi appear in "Nine Deaths." But they don't play Kosugi's sons as usual. They're just two kids on the bus. Who are dead ringers for Sho Kosugi. One of whom knows some flashy martial arts. What a stunning coincidence.
*Great dialogue like-"I want a clean girl-no clap!"
*And if nothing else, there's Blackie Dammet as Albie the Cruel, wheel-chair bound leader of the terrorists, greatest movie villain since Robot Monster. Looking like the mutant offspring of Prince and Tom Waites, with an unruly monkey for a pet, Albie rants and raves and goes berserk every second he's on screen. He has a German accent of the "Ve vill" variety. Either this Blackie Dammet is the worst, most deranged actor in history, or he's a sly satirist. I vote the former.
*Blackie also gets my favorite moment in the movie-during a rant, he bellows "It vas a great victory, but there vill be an even greatest-" "Even greatest" is wrong, of course, and Blackie pauses, just for a second, waiting for the cut. But there isn't one, so he plunges on. It's quick, but it happens. It's the kind of moment that makes you love bad movies all the more.
There's a lot more, too much to cover here. Suffice to say if something can be lousy about a movie, it's lousy about "Nine Deaths of the Ninja."
Maybe it should be "Plan Nine Death of the Ninja."
A strong eight beans and a reccomendation that you get some friends together and give this one a rent. You'll probably have a ball.
And the title, by the way, has NOTHING to do with anything.
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