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  Ninja Terminator Exit The Dragon
Year: 1985
Director: Godfrey Ho
Stars: Richard Harrison, Hwang Jang Lee, Jonathan Wattis, Maria Francesca, Phillip Ko, James Chan, Jack Lam, Simon Kim, Tae-joon Lee, Keith Mak, Nancy Chan, Gerald Kim, Eric Leung, Andrew Lee
Genre: Martial Arts, Trash, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: The leader of the Ninja Empire in Japan gathers his top ranking employees together to witness his latest acquisition: the priceless Golden Warrior Statue, a small but valuable idol that can split into three parts. With this, the leader thinks all the power he ever wanted is within his grasp, and he laughs as he instructs the ninjas to try to attack him with their swords, to no effect as he is now invincible. But there is a splinter group of good ninjas, led by Harry (Richard Harrison), who contrive to steal the statue and keep it hidden from the bad guys - they won't like that at all.

But you might, in this, one of the most infamous of Hong Kong auteur Godfrey Ho's patchwork efforts, which if it looks to be fashioned from bits and pieces of various sources, it was, as Ho kept his fingers crossed that it would all come together as a coherent whole, or at least prompt the audience to check out his other ninja movies of which there were a number. The eighties was the decade for ninjas of course, not that there were many making the blockbuster kind of financial profits, but lower down the budget scale there were plenty of opportunists realising that simply by putting them in your opus, or even just your title, you had a ready made audience.

As for this little item, it garnered a cult following because frankly, it was completely nuts. Ostensible star Harrison spends most of the film in his apartment, going through some arcane rituals, slicing watermelons or flinging knives at drunken crabs because his wife has let them escape the cooking pot in the kitchen. Drunken crabs? Anyway, most of the heavy lifting was done by one Jack Lam, not the most famous of martial artists, but a man with obvious flair for that sphere of expertise on this evidence as he cannot go a couple of minutes in this movie without about four guys circling him and busting the kung fu moves.

Lam played Jaguar Wong, and he's probably the best reason to watch this if you want to see the action and combat, mainly because Ho offers him the lion's share (the jaguar's share?) of the setpieces as Harrison, looking noticeably aged, fields threats from the Ninja Empire, whose chief representative is a man sporting a large blonde woman's wig for reasons which go utterly unexplained. But this being the decade of technological advances, the film appears in love with the idea of the very latest gadgets, so video cassettes are sent to Harry to see the kidnap victim, he conducts his business on a Garfield phone, and best of all the bad guys dispatched a robot to negotiate with him.

Before you get too excited, this was not a Transformer or even Robby the Robot, but a toy robot which nevertheless has the power of speech - and can deliver those videotapes to boot. The plot is understandably not the strong point here, so as Ho packs in the fight sequences he sprinkles a spot of comedy and the odd love scene into the mix that offer Ninja Terminator its certain flavour. The little robot is not the Terminator, incidentally, it's the bloke in the blonde wig who claims to be such over the phone. Harrison did get to join in the action by the finale, or his stunt double did, but predictably hailing from different movies he and Jaguar never meet, and we're supposed to believe they are in contact with each other, yes, over the phone. Naturally, should this strike you in the wrong frame of mind it would all become too messed up for words, but on the other hand if you brought your sense of humour to the ninja table then you could well find yourself laughing throughout. It's not sensible, but it is funny.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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