As I‘ve said it previously with my review of Ninja III: The Domination, there was a phase in my life (and I sure as hell was not alone) that ninja movies were one of my favourite genre, if not the most favourite. I also remember this flick being mentioned to me with the notion – it‘s not as good as the other movies with Sho Kosugi.
Well, it‘s time to check it out with a careful eye, what do you think?
The problem arises – how should one approach this movie? As an actioner, this one is quite a failure, no doubt about it, even considering the absurd standards (or the lack of them) of the B-movie filmmaking.
A very different situation is with the approach to it as an action comedy. Nowadays, this category is firmly established, but back then? Actioners were serious business, man. Kill villains, blow the shit up, all deadly serious, no joking about that (apart from possible one-liners).
Now, the story couldn‘t be simplier, I guess. A bus full of American tourists in Phillipines is hijacked by terrorists demanding the release of one Mohammed Rahji and the departure of DEA agents from Southwest Asia (or was it Southern?) not to meddle with the drug operations of the main villain, wheelchair-bound German Nazi Alby the Cruel. A special unit consisting of Spike Shinobi (Sho Kosugi) and Steve Gordon (Brent Huff, know from Strike Commando 2, among others) is dispatched to free the hostages and to deal with the terrorists.
As I‘ve said – it couldn‘t be simplier.
The opening credits are from WTF category, when Sho performs with a katana while three women dances around him. Spoofing James Bond, obviously, and I don‘t know how did I react watching it back in the end of the 1980s, but I didn‘t like it at all. It‘s beyond cheesy and I like my Kosugi cold as a katana steel, not cheesy. No, no, hell no!
The first scene, as a training excercise, is also one of those unbelievable things you see in some stupid movies where enemy soldiers wait to be slaughtered, positioned perfectly for their impending doom. And btw, how the hell did Spike and Steve managed to put explosives next to the „terrorists“? Well, you won‘t learn and neither did I. It just happened. Like that.
And the movie, you ask? Well, the bus is hijacked. But from that moment the movie is hijacked also, and I‘m sorry to say the best roles switched from Sho and Brett (and to a degree, Emily Lesniak) to absolutely hilarious Blackie Dammet (a father of Anthony Kiedis of RHCP fame, as a wheelchair-bound gay German Nazi villain) and Regina Richardson as a wild-eyed leader of otherwise funny looking modern Amazon squad. Their scenes are simply absolutely hilarious.
The hostages are moved to a camp and later trekking to some hidden cave, and strangely, although they have days/hours of advantage, Spike and the rest of rescuers are able to quickly get to them. Well, talk about ancient GPS, right?
Interestingly, Steve has brought The Dancer, which is nothing else as a gatling gun and I‘d like to know if it somehow influences the use of the Ol‘ Painless in Predator (although not in size, of course).
Worth of mentioning is the appearance of Kosugi‘s sons Kane and Shane, although without any lines, but – at least in the case of Kane, the older one – showing nice martial arts choreography. Well done!
The most scene stealing character, though, is Sonny Erang‘s Mohammed Rahji, our villains‘ beloved hero. The scene in the chopper when Rahji‘s caught the bullet in his hand..well, I haven‘t seen it coming, to say the least.
Anyway, not to spoil the movie any further – did I like it? Not that much. It‘s watchable, and I‘ve definitely seen and suffered through many worse ones, but as a Kosugi fan, it was sad to see him in such a flick. Even as an (un)intended comedy, it doesn‘t work on me.