Vanity Fear

A Pretentious A**hole's Guide to B-Movie Bullsh*t

It's been several months since I last put together one of my self-indulgent bad movie posts, but not for lack of trying. The problem was that my ambitions were clearly outweighed by my time and energy, which both needed to be focused on more lucrative endeavors, but now that I have a bit more "me" time for the next little while, I shall try to make up for my inertia and get about a half-a-dozen written before I once again succomb to a clear case of the lazies.  
Today I've decided to focus my attention on a movie I rented purely by whim a few weeks ago.  I did so because I was familiar with the movie's reputation and I was feeling nostalgic for the peculiar genre it represented.  Is it just me or are we seriously due for a ninja movie revival?  There was a time in the early to mid-80s where you couldn't go a week without finding a new ode to those most mysterious of all the martial art masters on your local video store shelf, but those days are long past and I defy you name one recent movie that had a single throwing star in it, much less a masked mystical killer in black pajamas. 
What could account for the ninjas' complete drop off the pop culture radar?  I believe it is largely due to the schizophrenic nature of the films that was caused by the disparate demands of their two main audiences--adolescent boys and adult losers who actually believed owning a pair of nunchucks made them cool.  The latter group demanded films that were filled with sex and violence, which made the films inaccesable to the former audience (assuming they had parents who paid attention to movie ratings).  Thus filmmakers how to walk the fine line of making films that appeared to have plenty of s&v, but that still managed to be innocuous enough to not raise the ire of overprotective parents.  The result was a series of films so ridiculous that even two groups as stupid as the two mentioned above had to abandon them eventually.  But since I adore the ridiculous when it comes to my adventures in cinema, it seems natural that I take the time to rediscover this absurd genre and give it it's due.  I wish I could do so with my all-time favourite ninja move, Ninja 3: The Domination (in which the cute girl dancer from the Breakin' movies is possessed by the soul of a dead ninja and proceeds to exact revenge on those responsible for his death) but as of this writing that particular classic has yet to make it to DVD (which is just insane), so I will instead describe one of the most willfully absurd action movies I've ever seen--a film I'd believe was designed as a deliberate self-parody were it not so badly made. 
I am, of course, talking about:
Our epic begins in a sandy desert locale, where a group of Arabs white extras in headscarves are doing nefarious deeds and moving their lips while the sound of a foreign language is heard on the soundtrack.  Unbeknowst to them, their desert hideout has been invaded by two special operatives in clever disguise:
(Note: to fully enjoy the ninja experience, move your mouse pointer over the images to see what happens.  It may take a second or two, but it'll almost always be worth the wait)
There! You've got the hang of it!
Our oh-so-sneaky protagonists quickly dispatch a pair of their oddly caucausion enemies.  This gives them a bunker to work from, which the white dude quickly takes over, while his partner of thus-far unknown ethnicity sheds his disguise and gives us our first glimpse of the man we presumably paid to see.  Just make sure you pay attention as the camera slowly pans up his body, because as it does we are given the only character insight the movie deems important enough to supply him with:
The dude loves lollipops!
This, for those of you ignorant in the ways of the ninja, is Shô Kosugi , the actor most closely identified with the 80s ninja movie craze thanks to his roles in the Cannon ninja movie trilogy (Enter the Ninja. Revenge of the Ninja, and--sigh--Ninja 3: The Domination).  He also played the villain in the short-lived white-guy ninja tv series The Master and--if the IMDb isn't a lying bitch--is due to return in 2008s The Return of the Ninja (I told you the genre was aching for a comeback!).  Not only is he the star of today's film, but he also choregraphed all of its fight sequences and fathered two of its younger co-stars (all Shô Kosugi movies were family affairs, because--hey--three paychecks are better than one).  As a hero, Shô Kosugi (I find myself uncomfortable referring to him by anything other than his full name, such is the strength of his ninja powers) is such a badass he barely has to move as he starts dispatching the California Arabs surrounding him.  All he needs to get the job done is some throwing stars and a lollipop!
There's no reward for a job well done than some sweet, sweet candy.
In the role of white guy partner is Brent Huff , who I have no problem referring to as a Brent or Huff or asshole, depending on whichever I prefer at the moment.  He's best known for playing the assholish white mercenery in the softcore bondage classic The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of Yik-Yak, which is best remembered today for being the movie with the most instances of Tawny Kitaen nudity.  Obviously this was an early role for young Huff, since he had not yet mastered the art of firing a weapon without closing his eyes when it goes off:
How is he supposed to know what he's shooting at?
According to the movie, he's supposed to be some sort of super-soldier, but he doesn't actually appear to do anything anyone with a similar weapon in their hands wouldn't be capable of getting done.  My guess is that he's only in the movie to provide a discernable lack of colour to the precedings--if you know what I mean (hint: they figured they needed a white guy as one of the main characters because us white-folk are totally racist).  Having shot at a bunch of stuff (using concusive grenades and not real bullets--the white pussy) he strips out of his disguise as the action shifts back to Shô Kosugi, who has tired of throwing stars and has moved on to his handy sai (a weapon I was only able to identify after googling the wikipedia entry for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles):
That's it! Skewer him like a roast pig!
It's at this point I should note the thing that most surprised me about this movie--just how much Shô Kosugi really, really sucks.  Not as an actor--I was expecting that (and in his defence his heavy accent has been dubbed over by another performer)--but as a martial artist.  His fight scenes--the raison d'etre of any ninja movie--are just incredibly bad, lacking any sense of danger or impact.  The hand-to-hand combat in this movie looks more like under-rehearsed dance sequences as performed by a community theater group put together by men who have suffered crippling injuries while serving time in prison.  Somehow you expect more from the genre's most famous personality, but his incompentence as a fight choreographer and performer go a long way towards explaining the ninja movies' quick demise.
At least this pre-credit sequence's complete lack of danger is explained when it turns out that the whole thing was a training exercise meant to show the Army's top brass just what their ninja and white guy can do.  As they gather together to discuss the exercise's success, we are introduced to the third and final member of our special forces supergroup, Cute Blonde Girl (or CBG for short):
Here we are introduced to our plucky trio by name, but since I have no intention of ever referring to them as anything other than Shô Kosugi, White Asshole and CBG (who is here portrayed by the deservedly obscure Emilia Crow ) I'll keep that information to myself.  And now that we know who we're dealing with, it's time for the credits.
Oh.  My.  Gawd.
The credits people!  You have to see these credits!  As soon as they started I knew I was going to write this post!  I'M SERIOUS--watch the motherfucking credits!



Personally I imagine that at some point during preproduction on the movie, the following conversation took place:

BigShot Producer:  Okay we got ninja action and pretty girls for the guys and some scenes with kids for the little ones.  What can we add to the picture that will make women and homos want to see it?  

DumbAss Director: I dunno.  A musical credit sequence?

BigShot Producer: Genuis!  I knew there was a reason I hired you.

Actually, when you take into account the fact that the movie was produced by East Indians, it's somewhat remarkable that they showed enough restraint to limit this musical moment to the credits and didn't salt and pepper such interludes throughout the entire movie.  I really, really wish they had.  That would have been the most awesome movie ever  But then maybe they did do just that, when you consider that the completely inappropriate "Keep On Dancing" will serve as the movie's theme for the rest of its running time.  

With the lyrical ode to dancing ninjas now over, the movie switches over to a group of important muckity-mucks about to get on a bus in Manilla (I have no trouble believing that the movie was shot in the Philippines, if for no other reason than the fact that--unless you're Peter Weir--there's no point in setting a movie in the Philippines unless you were too lazy to hide the fact that you shot it there).  

Among the relevent future hostages, we have a pretty-enough-for-our-budget tour guide, the totally-not-hispanic Mrs. Garcia and her inexplicably Philippino daughter (adopted?), as well as the two young sons of the never-seen Dr. Yamata, Shane and Kane, who we see playing with a pair of nunchucks, like all adorable Japanese sons of scientists do:




As the bus leaves on its inevitable date with destiny, the action switches over to a prison that is presumably also in Manilla.  In it resides a fearsome looking criminal, who finds a message in his food.  After reading it, he crumples the paper up and eats it, proving that he's a badass crazy-man who's not to be messed with:



During the course of the tour the bus approaches what looks like a wedding in progress:



But the inclusion of a demented looking dude in a wheelchair with a monkey in the wedding procession goes a long way towards suggesting that all is not what it seems:



Before you can say "Wait a second!  Was that a guy in a wheelchair with a fucking monkey in his lap?" the wedding party drops all pretenses of a nuptial celebration and pulls out some big scary guns and commandeers the tour bus.  The bride is the first one to speak to them:




One of the many challanges this film throws at the viewer, is its inclusion of so many truly terrible actors that a reviewer is hard-pressed to finger one out as the worst of a bad bunch, but Regina Richardson as the evil lesbian mercenary (yes, she and her underlings are all manhating lesbians, which is later made explicit in a hilariously inappropriate moment) with the too-shameless-even-for-Ian-Fleming name of Honey Hump, might possibly has given the world the worst performance ever captured on film with her appearance in this movie.  With all of the subtlety of Snidely Whiplash, she informs her captives that if they do not behave she will turn them over to her evil henchman, a doctor "who likes to cut people open and see what they had for breakfast." 

Meanwhile back in what might be the Philippino police station or the American embassy or wherever, we are introduced to our super special forces team Philippines' liason (or something like that), a leering East Indian I can only conceivably refer to as Creepy McMustache:



Okay, remember back all that time ago when I said Regina Richardson might be responsible for the film's worst performance?  I was full of shit.  Before Creepy even had a chance to express a single word of a dialogue I could tell by the inexpressably inexplicable nature of his presence in front of the camera that he HAD to have invested his own money in the movie to have gotten this part.

Guess what?

Creepy is played by none other than India's most famous and respected Tennis champion, Vijay Amritraj .  Recognize that name?  You should if you watched those amazing opening credits (and if you didn't--STOP READING THIS RIGHT NOW AND WATCH THEM!  I included them for a reason y'know), which began by telling us that the movie is an Amritraj Production.  And not only is Vijay listed as one of the executive producers, but the lone producing credit is possessed by a presumed relative of some sort named Ashok Amritraj.  So in this case it is understandable how someone so completely ill-suited to appear in a professional film production got this particular role, but what is truly mindblowing is that he actually went on to appear in some real movies that neither he nor any of his relatives paid for, including Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.  Dude must have had some pictures of people doing something nasty somewhere in Hollywood. 

Anyway, after Creepy spends far too long ogling his hot secretary, he gets a phone call informing him of the hostage situation, which causes him to jump into action.

The news of the kidnapping reaches the ears of high-ranking officials in Washington, one of whom we see on the phone with someone whose identity we're meant to figure out for ourselves:



With the order from you-know-who now having been officially made, its time for our elite special forces trio to receive their call to action.  And just where does an elite special forces trio hangout as they await such orders?  By the pool, of course!  While White Asshole and CBG lounge around, reading magazines and drinking lemonade, Shô Kosugi uses the time to practice his mad ninja skillz.



It's at this point that movie cuts to a flashback so inexplicable and irrelevant to the plot that I can only imagine that it resulted from the following phone conversation between Shô Kosugi and the film's writer/director Emmett Alston:

Shô Kosugi: Hi Emmett, I just read your script and I think it's fantastic!  I especially loved the bit where my character loves lollipops!

Emmett Alston: Oh, man!  I was so in the zone when I came up with that!  It totally defines your character!

SK: It really does.  I just have one small, little, itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny concern....

EA:  Uh oh, here it comes....

SK: No, don't worry.  It's nothing major.  I was just wondering about the movie's title.

EA: Isn't it brilliant?  I came up with it in a dream and it was so great I woke myself up and wrote it down before I could forget it.

SK:  Yeah, it's great.  Really poetic, but I'm just not sure that I see how it connects to the script.

EA: What do you mean?

SK:  Well, two things crossed my mind that make it sorta problematic.  Am I right in guessing that the ninja in the title is a reference to my character?

EA: Who else would it be?

SK: That's kinda my point.  The problem is that my character doesn't die once in the whole movie.  He doesn't even get injured.

EA: Riiiiggghhhhht....

SK: So isn't it kinda misleading to suggest that he dies nine times over the course of the movie?  Isn't that false advertising?

EA: But it's not meant to be taken literally!  It's a metaphor!

SK: For what?

EA: Pardon?

SK: What is it a metaphor for?

EA: (Sighing) What was your second concern?

SK: If my character is the ninja, shouldn't we at some point in the movie see him dressed like a ninja?  Sure I use ninja weapons all through the film, but I only wear my camouflage commando costume during the action sequences.  People might feel ripped off if they don't see me in the black pajamas at least once.

EA: You got a point there.  I hadn't thought about that.  (Thinks for a second)  I tell ya what we'll do.  During the pool sequence I'll throw in a flashback to the time you spent training to be a ninja.  We'll show you cutting up a bunch of dummies and meditating in a waterfall--y'know some of that Zen shit.  Then we'll have your sensei tell you that you have to kill this band of ninja warriors.  For no apparent reason, you'll decide to unmask one of these ninjas and it'll be a beautiful woman, who will ask you to kill her, because of the ninja honor code or something, but you don't and as you walk away from her your sensei will appear out of nowhere and shoot her in the back with an arrow and tell you that you failed your mission because you weren't man enough to kill the chick when she asked you to.  How does that sound?

SK: But how does that fit in with the rest of the movie?

EA: Uh....I got it!  Remember how near the end you kill that ninja with the bow and arrow?

SK: Not really....

EA: Trust me, it's in there.  Anyway, people will think that that ninja is your former sensei and by killing him you're earning back the honor you lost when you didn't kill that chick.

SK: But that doesn't make any sense.

EA: Y'know I'd love to talk about this with you some more, but Regina's going to be here in five minutes to talk about ways we can dyke up her character some more.  I got an idea for a scene where she offers a bounty for your guys' dicks.  Isn't that wild!

SK: But...

EA: (Hangs up)

I admit that it is possible that no such telephone conversation took place, but if it didn't, then the sequence really doesn't make any sense.  Either way, here's a slightly edited version of it:



And with this valuable(?) insight into Shô Kosugi's character having been made, we cut back to the pool where he is using his honed ninja abilities to their best purpose--cutting up a watermelon while blindfolded and narrowly avoiding killing an adorable kitty cat in the process.



Thankfully his work is not in vain, as it allows the trio to engage in the following hilarious banter:

White Asshole: (as Shô Kosugi hands him a platter of cut watermelon) Ah, the fruits of a vigorous meditation!

Shô Kosugi: Yeah, I had a sharp vision.

CBG: And what did you see?

Shô Kosugi: Watermelon.

It's exchanges like this that make it difficult to believe that the film was truly intended to be a comedy, since when it actually tries to be funny, excrutiatingly painful moments like this are the result.  Thus the true intellectual pleasure of the film comes from trying to determine which moments were a) meant to be funny and failed, b) meant to be serious and failed and c) meant to be funny and succeeded.  It is the kind of puzzle that can drive a person mad if they become too obsessed with it. 

Thankfully their painful banter is cut short when they are called to duty via CBG's digital watch.  Meanwhile back at wherever, Creepy and his hot secretary determine the identities of two of the bus-hijacking suspects thanks to their fingerprints.  And in an undisclosed jungle location we once again meet our villains and finally get to hear their whacky crippled German leader speak as he tangles with his pet monkey, Oscar, in front of Honey Hump's lesbian commandos.



Out of all of the performances in this film, Blackie Dammett 's portrayal of Alby the Cruel is the one that was most obviously meant to be comedic.  That's not to say it's funny, only that its absurdity is a product of design rather than incompetence.  Throughout the 80s Dammett briefly specialized in over-the-top turns as villainous henchmen, murderous maniacs and drug dealers, but he is best remembered today for being the father of Anthony Keidis, lead singer of The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and for being the president of their official fan club.  Today's film contains the largest role he would ever play during his 13 year acting career and it is not at all complimentary to suggest that his is the best performance in the movie, considering how low his co-stars set the bar.  In a normal movie, his characterization of the German terrorist would be inexcusable, but here it makes perfect sense.

After finishing his battle with Oscar, Alby proceeds to show how cruel he really is by videotaping the execution of one of his hostages, warning the authorities that he will kill them all if they don't release the big ugly prisoner we saw eating the note earlier.  And as he makes his little snuff film, the mad doctor who Honey introduced to us earlier sneaks his way onto the bus (where its captive passengers are--rather improbably--getting some shut-eye) so he can rape the we'll-pretend-she's-attractive-for-the-sake-of-the-plot tour guide.  But before his molestation can begin in earnest, he is stopped when one of the Japanese boys sets his ass on fire.



Alerted by the bad doctor's cries, Honey comes onto the bus and tells his intended victim that she "should learn how to let a woman satisfy [her]," because, "that's the only way to fight his kind."  Do you get that she's a lesbian?  Because she is. 

Honey starts walking out of the bus and as she moves past our young hero, he is rewarded for his efforts with a smile from Mrs. Garcia's improbably Philippino daughter in what is easily the creepiest close-up of a child actor I've ever seen:



The next morning (I'm assuming), a package arrive at Creepy's office while he is busy attempting to swear at someone on the phone.  I say attempting, because his use of the word "fuck" has been deliberately muffled on the film's soundtrack, which suggests that either a) the dvd I have of the film features its censored tv version or (more likely) b) that was the only take they had and they had to censor it to avoid receiving a R rating.  As Creepy talks, his hot secretary brings the package into his office and she screams when she opens it and discovers that it contains the murdered hostage's severed head.



The package comes just as our herioc trio arrives in Manilla in their matching powder blue jumpsuits.  They immediately head to Creepy's office, where he shows them the videotape of the execution.  He then goes on to tell them who they're dealing with.  The prisoner who the kidnappers want released is Muhammad Rahji AKA Rahji the Butcher, a terrorist who attempted to blow up the "embassy" but was captured and imprisoned before he could be successful.  And the monkey-loving leader of the kidnappers is Albert Brandt, a terrorist turned drug dealer who "once got careless and let a firebomb go off in his lap."  Then, based on a leap of logic I can't explain after rewatching the scene six times, the team decides to go to an art museum to check out a DEA agent named Branhem, who is one of the guys whose fingerprints Creepy and his hot secretary discussed earlier.

At the museum White Asshole and Shô Kosugi are carefully watched by a bald asian dude, who we'll later learn is one of Alby's drug runners.  He's joined by Branhem and then something happens that is simply too ineffable for me to do justice with mere words.



Yes.  Your eyes did not deceive you.  The first non-pretend Arab, non-flashback ninja enemy our lead hero faces is a quartet of toothless midgets.  That's just all kinds of fucked up.  I mean, honestly, what kind of snarky comment can I add to make this moment any more ridiculous than it already is?  I simply have to move on.  

With his little people defenders having been vanquished, Branhem tries to escape from our heroes by jumping off a staircase down to the museum's ground floor.  Though it is only a short height and he lands on his feet (albeit on top of a pressboard pedestal) he still somehow manages to perish in the attempt.  "That was his last jump," Shô Kosugi says with a shake of his head after he checks the dead man's pulse, which is an odd thing to say since it suggests an aspect of Branhem's character history that is never explored in the film (since remarking that someone made their last jump is really only relevent if there was a significant record of them jumping in the past).

Back in the jungle, the kidnappers decide to force the hostages out of the tour bus.  The effort is so strenuous that the little girl with the horrific smile begins to have heart palpitations as a result of her previously unmentioned medical condition.  Her mother (Helen McNeely, who is almost as horribly miscast and out of place in this movie as Mr. Amritraj) tries to give her one of her pills, but they are stolen away from her by one of Alby's mercenaries.



Alby is highly entertained by the older woman's torment, proving his nickname to be decidely unironic.

Having returned to their hotel from the museum, White Asshole and Shô Kosugi meet back up with CBG.  She tells the boys that she's going to take a bath and go to bed, while our candy-loving ninja announces that he's off to buy some lollipops.  White Asshole, being the hedonist that he is, admits that he's made plans to go out with Creepy's hot secretary, much to the consternation of CBG, who--we suspect--has a bit of a thing for her teammate.  "[Hot Secretary] is so beautiful," Shô Kosugi tells CBG as White Asshole leaves them to meet his date.  "If you like airheads, maybe," she answers back, catily.  Then she decides to tell Shô Kosugi that they found needle marks on Branhem's legs, which explains why he was willing to betray his country to help drug dealing terrorists.

As a screenwriter, Alston tends to prefer giving us the necessary exposition a scene or two after it would have been most useful.  While this means we often have no idea what's going on, it does keep the viewer on their toes and forces us to pay attention.

Back in the hotel's lobby, Shô Kosugi notices the nefarious looking drug runner henchman who starts following White Asshole and Hot Secretary and rubs his chin in a manner that suggests he's thinking of a plan at that very moment.  As his mental lightbulb switches on, the action returns to the jungle where Honey learns of our trios success in neutralizing Branhem.  As she talks on the phone she's attacked by Oscar, Alby's monkey, and tries to shoot the creature, which causes Alby to threaten to shoot her if she harms his beloved pet.  His resolve is weakened however when a trio of her lesbian mercenaries surrounds him and point their machine guns at his head.  Their argument quelled, Honey goes on to tell him about the Americans on their trail.  Alby isn't worried, as they have an informant in Creepy's office and he assumes (wrongly) that our trio will be no match for his murderous allies.

Just as we're left guessing who the informent is, we cut to White Asshole and Hot Secretary's date in a posh Manilla restaurant.  Minutes pass as they engage in meaningless romantic banter, which only ends when she gets up to go powder her nose and we learn the true nature of the brilliant plan Shô Kosugi hatched back in the hotel's lobby.



Clearly Shô Kosugi is an idiot.

Still his disguise does allow him the chance to use a silver cane during his fight with the drug runners that show up to interupt his friend's date, which makes for a nice change from the usual boring ninja weapons.  After several minutes of fairly lame fight choreography, he vanquishes the criminals and tells his friends how he knew they were in danger.  After the three of them get into a horse-drawn cab, White Asshole tells the driver, "you can take him," he refers to Shô Kosugi, "to the American Embassy, "and then you can take us to..." he pauses waiting for Hot Secretary to finish his sentence.  "My place," she purrs seductively.



And while the most boorish of our leads gets his boom-chicka-chicka-wah-wah freak on, our villains are forcing their captives to go on a long hike through the jungle towards their mountain hideout.  Once there, the dastardly crew celebrates their vileness with alcohol, music and dance!  Honey especially seems to delight in drinking beer and watching her "ladies" frolic together to the sound of a festive accordian.

The next morning, White Asshole looks very tired as CBG tells everyone that Alby has ordered hits on all three of them.  Creepy then receives a phone call and is given some news he doesn't bother to share with us, but that forces him to conclude that they have no choice but to release Rahji.



Unfortunately for his police escort, Rahji notices White Asshole driving behind him and promptly kills his driver and escapes out of the car into a nearby wedding (which apparently are unavoidable in the Philippines).  He then jumps into a horse-drawn cab and heads to Chinatown (Manilla has a Chinatown?  Wow, you learn things everyday!) where he hides out in a brothel.  Luckily for the forces of righteousness, Shô Kosugi is able to spot him from a helicopter flying above the city and--posing as a cheap foreign business man--makes his way into the house of ill-fame.  There the white madam in a bad black wig braces at his insistance that he only wants "a clean girl!"

"Are you kidding?" she asks defensively.  "My girls are sterilized, sanatized and lobotomized!"

She then shows him her collection of four homely prostitutes.  He picks one and goes into the back where all the action is taking place and where Rahji is presumably to be found.  But he quickly learns that this presumption is wrong after he's attacked by more drug running goons.  Rahji has already left the building, completely negating the need for the scenes we just witnessed!  Fortunately, White Asshole has managed to track him down to a city square, where the evil giant is having fun popping children's balloons.



That, my friends, is the embodiment of pure evil. 




Okay, where was I?  Rahji was cruelly popping children's balloons like the insane, evil bastard that he is?  Right.  Well, as hard as White Asshole tries to tail the laughing giant, Rahji manages to give him the slip by ducking into a convenient tunnel passageway and catching a ride on motor boat, where he taunts our co-hero with a self-satisified grin and some machine gun fire.
(Note: the mouse fun from the last post is still in full-effect)
As our chuckling villain makes his escape, Shô Kosugi has found time to change out of his foreign whore-lovin' business suit and return to his helicopter, where he is promptly abducted by drug runners.

While you would assume that the most prudent action for the drug runners at this point would be to kill Shô Kosugi and steal his helicopter, they zig when you would zag and decide to just abduct him along with his whirlybird instead.  He quickly proves this was a remarkably stupid idea when he (without arousing the attention of the pilot) quickly subdues his captor and waits patiently as the 'copter flies off to pick up its next passanger--a certain someone who really hates balloons.
After Rahji boards the helicopter, he makes contact with Alby and the two of them engage in a conversation that must be seen before it can be believed:



Could there be something Alby and Rahji are not telling us?  Did I detect a small, melancholy pause before Alby told the laughing behemoth that he had booked him time on a floating brothel? 

Sadly, before the movie can answer these intriguing questions, Shô Kosugi decides that this is the perfect time to try and stop Rahji, but he seriously underestimates the depths of the mad monster's strength.  This is proved when Rahji manages to stop a bullet with HIS BARE HAND!



Shô Kosugi then attempts to take down the villain with some martial arts, but Rahji is able to easily knock the ninja out of the helicopter (taking off the door in the process).  But our hero is no sissy, so--as the helicopter starts to take off--he grabs hold of one of its landing rails and is lifted up into the wild grey yonder, as Rahji attempts to stamp him off.



A brief struggle for dominance ensues, and--against the odds--our hero comes out on top, largely because of his use of a claw-like hand-thingie that he manages to produce completely out of nowhere, like the ninja magician that he is.



Thanks to his ingenuity, Shô Kosugi is able to send Rahji tumbling to the water below and reclaim his helicopter.  Following his victory, he and his teammates enage in some incomprehensible but valuable runtime wasting radio banter before the action moves back to the jungle where Alby and Honey have reached their base camp.  Alby inspires his mercenaries with his version of a St. Crispin's day speech and gifts of cocaine. 

Hot on his trail, our teammates decide to go to the floating brothel Alby mentioned to Rahji during their brief love chat.  The two professional girls Madame Woo Pee sent to greet the helicopter on a nearby island get the surprise of their life when, instead of a seven foot tall muslim, they instead find a White Asshole and a ninja.  But Madame Woo Pee (who isn't Asian and who must be the identical twin sister of the madame who ran the Chinatown brothel) isn't a fool and she gets suspicious when it takes longer than it should for her girls to return to the ship with Rahji.

As White Asshole talks to the working girls (one of whom offers to "clean out his pipes") Shô Kosugi strips down to his speedos and swims over to the floating palace and gets onboard without being detected.  He is quickly able to find out where Alby's camp is located by threatening a guy who's dressed like he's either a bartender or waiter, but must be one of Alby's drug runners.



Having gotten the information he desires, Shô Kosugi attempts to sneak off the boat, but is distracted by the offer of "whoopie" from one of Madame Woo Pee's (get it?  Whoopie sounds just like Woo Pee!) harlots.  This gives one of the guards enough time to recognize him as an interloper in the midst and attack him.  He manages to escape, while Madame Woo Pee herself fires at him with a very large machine gun as her hos run for cover:



Allow me if you will, a brief digression from the subject at hand, so I can briefly discuss an interesting paradox frequently seen in low budget movies such as this.  I call it the Prostitute Paradox, but it is also applicable to films involving exotic dancers.  It goes something like this: the more a movie prostitute/stripper looks like a real prostitute/stripper the less realistic the scene becomes.  As viewers we have grown so accustomed to movie sex workers looking like models, that when we are presented with actresses who actually look like they could be reasonably priced sex workers it negatively affects the truth of the scene.  So by persuing verisimilitude (or--more likely--being unable to afford to hire attractive actresses) filmmakers run the risk of making their work less rather than more believable than they had intended.  And here the digression and the scene with all the ugly hookers ends.  Almost.

After a very long and unneccessary underwater sequence, Shô Kosugi makes it to shore, only to face the murderous wrath of one last slattern in a wet t-shirt.  She attacks him with a knife and forces us to watch the most awkward almost-fight scene ever seen in a ninja movie:



Watching this sequence causes me to imagine another telephone conversation between our leading man and the movie's writer/director:

Emmett Alston: Hey Shô, my secretary said you wanted to talk?

Shô Kosugi: Hi Emmett.  Yeah, I'm a bit concerned about the scene with me and the knife-wielding hooker on the beach.

EA: What's wrong with it?

SK: Well, in the script it's described as a long, hard struggle....

EA: Yeah?  And....

SK: My character's a ninja....

EA: I know that!  I did write the thing after all.  What's your point?

SK: I just don't think a ninja would have that much trouble dispatching a hooker with a knife.  All he'd have to do is touch a pressure point and she'd drop like a rock.

EA: What is it with you and pressure points?  All you ever talk about is pressure points!  Do you want to be a fucking movie star or a fucking masseuse?

SK: I was just trying to think of a non-violent way to dispatch her.  I could just kick her in the head.

EA: (Sighing) Shô do you have your script with you right now?

SK: Of course, I have it with me at all times.

EA: Yes, you're very dedicated.  Will you do me a favour and tell me what it says the hooker is wearing in this scene?

SK: Uh...a t-shirt and bikini panties.  What has that got to do with anything?

EA: Everything!  Look, we're working for two different masters on this movie.  We have to have enough sex to make sure that adult males don't feel ripped off, but not so much parents won't let their kids watch it.  That's why we have scenes set in two brothels, but no actual sex.  It's also why we have your character get attacked on a beach by a whore in a wet t-shirt!  That way we can get nipples into the movie without any actual nudity.  Do you get it?

SK: I guess so....

EA: Good, I'm glad.  Is there anything else?

SK: Yeah, I was wondering about the scene with the midgets....

EA: (Hangs up)



Now that they know the location of Alby's camp, White Asshole and Shô Kosugi start flying in its direction as CBG joins forces with the Philippino army and forms a plan of attack.  The leader of the foreign army tells Hot Secretary, who has no reason to be at the army base, but who is anyway, to tell her boss, Creepy, that they know where the terrorists are and that they are on their way to rescue the hostages.  But it turns out, in a twist that shocks the audience to its very foundation, that she is the informant Alby referred to earlier in the movie.  But before she can share her knowledge with bald drug runner--who also has no reason to be at the army base, but who is anyway--they are interrupted by CBG who incapacitates BDR with a gun that shoots out burst of epoxy while HS looks on shamefully.  After she has rendered him immobile, she asks her rival for White Asshole's affections "So, what kind of junk they got you hooked on, huh?" to which HS replies "What do you think?  The good stuff," which she then indicates by making an exagerated sniffing sound.  CBG is so astounded by this, she just walks away, but then who wouldn't?

As all of this is happening, Shô Kosugi and White Asshole have made it to the jungle.  There they discover a dead body and Shô Kosugi uses his ninja skillz to find the booby traps Alby and his crew left for them, which he then uses to cause a great big 'splosion.



Alby, Honey and all of their little mercs see the explosion and assume that their persuers have perished, which delights them and leads them to believe that they now have "hand" as George Costanza once so famously referred to it.  Honey is inspired by this mistaken belief into working up Alby's men by promising a half hour with one of her girls for each "pig head" they bring to her. 

The first time I watched this movie I thought she was saying "pink head" and was urging Alby's mercs to castrate their enemies, which seemed perfectably reasonable given her other actions made during the course of the film, but it turns out I was wrong, which is really disappointing, because my version is a lot easier to make fun of.  As it actually is the scene is just lame, but as I thought it was it was brilliantly awful.

So lets pretend it never happened and just move on.

Our team is hot on the trail of the terrorists.  Shô Kosugi has gone out ahead of the others, because he's a ninja and that's what they do.  He runs into an ambush, but takes care of it by shooting exploding arrows with his crossbow.



And White Asshole helps by firing a really big gun, which I assume he uses on account of his tiny penis (and please take note that he still can't fire a weapon with his eyes open).



As our special team decimates their enemies, Shô Kosugi decides to show everyone that he enjoys taking traditional weapons and updating them for our modern times.  For example he turns one of his sai's into a dartgun, but you'll have to take my word for it, since we're entering the last stretch of this post and I want to get it finished before Veronica Mars starts, which means I'm going to start being a lot more stingy with the funky moving screencaps.  Suffice it to say, our boys kick some major terrorist ass, but that doesn't mean they've gotten the job done, since Alby and Honey are still around and the hostages are still...uh...hostaged.  And to make matters worse, the jungles are full of dangerous plastic cobras as Shô Kosugi soon finds out.



After getting rid of the snakes with one of his ninja smoke bombs, Shô Kosugi saves the we'll-pretend-she's-pretty-because-she-seems-nice tour guide from being raped by one of the horny mercs.  Having already proven (*COUGH*) that he's a master of disguise, Shô Kosugi puts on the now-naked rapist's outfit and enters the camp so he can rescue the kidnapped congressman who Alby and Honey have separated from the rest of the hostages to serve as bait (did I mention that one of hostages was a congressman?  No?  Don't worry about it.  It really isn't important).



Thanks to his brilliant disguise, Shô Kosugi is able to rescue the congressman, but he just narrowly avoids getting shot by the terrorists.  This scuffle is heard by the rest of the hostages who are growing ever more concerned about the health of the young girl with the heart problem and improbably Anglo mother.  Knowing someone has to do something, Kane Kosugi earns his lil' paycheck by escaping from their makeshift prison and searching for the nasty man who stole the girl's medicine.  Meanwhile back in villain central, Honey informs Alby that the team has managed to rescue both the tour guide and the congressman and is shocked by his nonplussed reaction.  Why isn't he upset?  Because his true love has finally returned to him and all is right with the world!



As they celebrate their reunion, lil' Kane sneaks up on the merc who stole the homely girl's medicine and uses his nunchucks to put a spider (or something) into the guy's hair, causing the dog of war to jump with shock and giving the boy the chance he needs to retrieve the medicine from the man's jacket. 

At this point our heroes are in a cave where they have stumbled upon some actual ninjas in actual ninja pajamas.  How they got there and who they are working for are questions best left unasked because this is supposed to be a ninja movie so let's not look this gift horse in the mouth.  As they battle, lil' Kane is stopped in his attempt to return to his fellow hostages by a nasty merc, who the boy quickly takes care of with his nunchucks and youthful fighting skills.  You know what?  All little children should be allowed to protect themselves with ninja weapons!  After watching this movie it is hard to argue otherwise!  With the merc out of the way, our lil' hero is able to get the medicine to the little girl and receives a grateful hug from her strangely pale mother for his efforts.

And finally, back in the caves, after 80 minutes of waiting we get to see a kickass ninja fight sequence!

Oh, wait...  We don't. 

Y'see it's not a good idea to shoot a fight sequence in a dark cave when most of your participants are dressed head to toe in black pajamas.  In the end all we can really see is Shô Kosugi waving his sword around, presumably hitting the black shapes moving blearily around him.  As he fights for his life, Rahji sets up a bomb in the cave, while White Asshole is wounded by an arrow shot by a ninja who may or may not be the old guy who called Shô Kosugi a pussy in the flashback.



Unfortunately White Asshole survives his injury, but Shô Kosugi is still pissed off enough t0 run after the bow and arrow wielding ninja and kick his ass (thus proving he's found his path to insight or some such Eastern shit).  Meanwhile the bomb Rahji set is ticking down to detonation.  Having avenged his friend's ouchy Shô Kosugi is alerted to the bomb's existence by lil' Kane, but before he can defuse it, he's attacked by an axe wielding Rahji.  After a fight sequence that's almost as awkward as the one with the hooker on the beach, Shô Kosugi defeats the monstrous Muslim by stuffing a ninja smoke bomb in his mouth.



With that the giant is defeated.  The bomb is defused and the hostages are rescued.

But what about Honey and Alby?  Patience, dear ones, patience.

As our hostages engage in what appears to be a post-abduction tea party, our two villains crash their get-together only to discover it's a trap meant to lure them into showing themselves in public.  Why they would actually be stupid enough to fall for such a ruse is a question best left unasked because Veronica Mars is about to start and I seriously want to wrap this up.  So, to make a long story short--Honey is trapped in a flimsy net and Alby is chased onto a polo field where he is thrown off his wheelchair and killed by galloping polo ponys.  No, seriously, I'm not kidding.  See for yourself:



And then White Asshole and CBG flirt with the possibilty of becoming a couple after being offered a job over the phone by Creepy, while Shô Kosugi hands out lollipops to the three kids. 

The End.

So that was Nine Deaths of the Ninja, a film so badly made that is impossible to determine what was lousy by design and what was lousy by accident, thus leaving the viewer unable to decide if they have seen a truly bad satire of an action movie or just a truly bad action movie.  Now, if you will excuse me, Veronica Mars is starting and I can't miss a second of it.