Sunday, 17 January 2016

the ninja trilogy: revenge of the ninja

like its predecessor revenge of the ninja opens with a ninja massacre, only this time it's the ninjas doing the massacring. cho osaki (sho kosugi) returns home to find his family slaughtered and his estate in ruins. after dispatching the remaining attackers, he takes his mother and infant son to the states where he swears off being a ninja in favour of running a gallery instead. however, it's not long before cho is drawn back into a life of combat when he once again becomes the target of a powerful and malevolent ninja.

kosugi, who played the evil black ninja in the first film, ostensibly takes the lead in this film, except he doesn't really. much of the action is concerned with his american business partner, braden (arthur roberts), who is revealed to be a ninja himself. braden is using cho's gallery as a front for a heroin smuggling operation, but when the local mafia boss screws him over he wages a one-man war against the mob. braden isn't a hero, him being a heroin dealer and everything, but revenge of the ninja seems to be much more focused on braden's revenge against the mob than cho's revenge against the ninjas who killed his family. that's partly because as a character cho spends most of the film not wanting to get involved, even when he is beaten and nearly killed by mob henchmen.

where enter the ninja was a film about impotence and masculinity, revenge of the ninja is very much a film about abstinence. i try not to equate every film i watch to sex, but here it's kind of hard not to. in the second scene of the film we see braden's assistant, kathy (ashley ferrare) coming on to cho. what begins as a seduction soon turns into a fight as the two spar, ending with cho on top of his opponent. despite the sexually charged exchange, cho refuses kathy's advances and in the following scene we find out why - he has sealed his ninja sword and vowed never to unsheath it again. the rest of the film mostly consists of braden killing mobsters and the police asking cho for help, i.e. to unsheathe his sword, which he consistently refuses to do. until the final act at which point cho is left with no choice and has to face braden one-on-one. it turns out he was just saving himself for the right person, and he says as much in the film - 'only a ninja can defeat a ninja'.

sexual analogies aside, the focus on braden rather than cho does make the film a slow watch at times but there are some fantastic set pieces along the way. there is one really long fight scene in which cho is forced to defend himself against a group of mobsters after they attack his gallery, and it's actually a pretty intense scene with some impressive stunts. the final rooftop battle between cho and braden is an exciting finale and does make the somewhat bumpy road you have to take to get there worthwhile. also there are some truly bizarre moments, like when braden distracts cho with a lifesize fibreglass replica of himself during the fight, as if he just had one in his pocket or something. and then there are these guys -

in a lot of ways this is a more entertaining film than it's predecessor, but it also has very little going on in terms of the plot. it does have some great ninja action though, so it's worth checking out for that.

revenge of the ninja 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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