Sunday, 17 January 2016

the ninja trilogy: ninja iii - the domination

ninja 3 - the domination follows telephone engineer/aerobics instructor christie who finds a dying ninja and is possessed by the evil spirit living in his sword. christie then becomes a ninja herself and decides to take revenge on the policemen who were responsible for her predecessor's death. when she's not possessed by an evil ninja, christie and her cop boyfriend attempt to figure out what's happened to her and how to stop it.

this film is insane, and by far the best entry in the ninja trilogy. for a start, christie (lucinda dickey) is an awesome protagonist. not only does she have a blue collar job which you very rarely see in genre cinema, she's also shown to be able to take care of herself even without being possessed by an evil ninja. there's also an actual sex scene early on, which christie instigates, ruining my theory that all ninja films are really about sex. that said, i did wonder if there was a transgender message in this one. the floating possessed sword asserting its will over christie is so obviously phallic that it doesn't seem like such a huge leap to conclude that this is a story of a woman learning to come to terms with the fact that she identifies as a man. then again, it also feels like there's a theme of christie resisting the 'dominance' of men so it's possibly less about her transitioning and more about her fighting to stay female in a world in which masculinity is the dominant force. i don't know, but there are definitely some interesting ideas under the surface of this film, intentional or not. there are also two moments where ninjas crush balls in their hands - first a golf ball then later christie crushes a pool ball - but i'm not sure i want to explore that particular visual metaphor in this review.

the tone of this film should really be an issue because our protagonist is massacring innocent cops. the cops are never shown doing anything bad, and when they kill the first ninja it's only after he himself has murdered about twenty of them so it feels justified. nevertheless, whenever christie encounters one of her future victims she flashes back to a slow motion image of the cop in question firing bullet after bullet into the helpless ninja in a way that clearly portrays the cops as being crazy. it's kind of interesting, because by simply using imagery and editing we are allowed into christie's evil-ninja-possessed head. the real hero of the film is sho kosugi's character, yamada, who wears what looks like a cd for an eyepatch and tracks christie down so he can help her out, and yet he only has about ten minutes of screentime overall. despite all this, there is enough of a mystery in the story to keep us invested in christie, even when she's murdering innocent cops.

there is also a fantasy element in this film, and maybe it was just because james hong appears at one point but i couldn't help being reminded of big trouble in little china. there is an exorcism scene that plays like something from a horror movie and the final sequence has magic and an undead ninja and all kinds of things you don't expect from an eighties action movie.

i thoroughly enjoyed this film and would go so far as to say that it's worth investing in the whole ninja trilogy just to see ninja 3 - the domination. it's also the one that looks the best on blu-ray as it's the most colourful and is mostly set during the day. this is certainly the most interesting film in the series and the most bizarre, but mostly it's just a lot of fun.

ninja iii - the domination will be released by eureka entertainment as part of a 5-disc dual format (blu-ray & dvd) edition on 18th january 2016

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