Modern Day Ninja!
Mark Savary | Seattle, WA | 01/11/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've had this film on VHS for quite a few years (under the alternate title of "Deadly Life of a Ninja"). It was one of the first ninja/kung fu films I ever purchased, and even in pan n' scan, I thought it was a blast.Unintentional comedy is evident in a few scenes, most notaby in the opening montage of Ninja history and training. For some reason, female mud wrestling is a secret Ninja skill according to the movie. In another segment, a Ninja battles his nemesis while wearing a gold lamme outfit! The 1983 film contains one of the most interesting assassination techniques I've ever seen; a Ninja waits to attack his victim until she is taking a shower, and then kills her with a poisoned ICICLE! The hot water melts the murder weapon away, and the wound goes almost unnoticed during the autopsy.The police are baffled by strange killings like this, and they call in a martial artist who is both an expert on Ninja, and is secretly is a good Ninja who fights for justice. The leader of the bad Ninja killed his Master many years ago, and so he works with the police to battle the Ninja assassins and have his revenge.There is some nudity, but not to excess. The print is scuffed, but not overly poor, and does appear to be complete. As usual with older films like this, the dubbing is pretty funny to listen to. My biggest squawk is that the print is not in widescreen, although the film appears to have been shot that way.For all you Grizzly Adams / PETA types, you might not care for two scenes. In one, two pigeons are skewered while on the wing during Ninja training. In another, a snake is beheaded on a kitchen table (this one is a bit graphic).There is some kendo on disply, and even some wire work. When the hero goes to the Ninja lair, there's some great combat in their garden and surrounding woods, and the final combat with the bad Ninja leader is also great.There is an excellent commentary by Ric Meyers of "Inside Kung Fu" magazine that is very informative on the real history of the ninja vs. the ninja history as portrayed in the movies. Turns out that the producers actually did a little research into real ninja, which made this film that much better.Meyers' commentaries on these Martial Arts Theater DVDs are almost always worth watching the film twice back-to-back; first without, then with, the commentary track running. If I have a choice between kung fu movies to buy, the presence of a Meyers commentary track always helps me decide which one to spend the money on.For the price, I'd say that this is a good addition to your kung fu collection, despite the drawbacks of the print."
Not too much ninja action, but if you can make it to the fin
morgoth | omaha, NE | 02/08/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Chen Kuan Tai stars as a cop. He's a cop, and he's also a ninja. Yasuaki Kurata play an old rival and they of course have a showdown at the end. The movie is very boring, but its worth watching for the opening credits and the last 2 fight scenes. The opening credits feature women in bikinis mud wrestling. The second to last fight has a huge muscular wrestler fighting Chen Kuan Tai. He smashes everything in sight and brutally throws Kuan Tai's stunt double around. Amazing stuff. Woo Ping, Robert Tai and Jackie Chan all worked with this big wrestler guy, but leave it to the great Peng Kong to come up with a truly great action scene. Peng Kong puts Chinese wrestling moves in his action choreography, as you can see in movies like Shaolin vs Lama, The Leg Fighters and Woman Avenger, and Life of Ninja features one of the finest wrestling scenes he ever created.
The final fight is somewhat unique. It's a long fight with some really good brief exchanges. Kurata does this crazy monkey bird-like style at the end.
Sun Jung Chi (the crazy monk who drinks wine and eats red meat in Shaolin vs Lama) has a nice cameo, but his 2 fights are only a tad above average. He plays Kuan Tai's ninja master in a flashback scene.
The version I have is widescreen and comes in this 10-pack under the title Ninja Grandmasters of Death- Kung Fu Crusade"