Posts Tagged ‘ The 80’s ’

LETHAL NINJA

I like to consider myself a budding connoisseur of the late 80’s early 90’s ninja film.

Having seen my fair share of films from the era, I feel that I’ve had enough experience with that genre to present a fairly qualified critical viewpoint. Having seen the entirety of the American Ninja series, Revenge of the Ninja, Ninja 3: The Domination, Enter the Ninja, Gymkata, the more modern Ninja Assasin, and all of the films in the Three Ninjas franchise.

The thing about all of these films, is that for the most part they’re all borderline incompetent, but in a good way. Cause in the 80’s all you needed to make a ninja movie was a crappy plot, enough money for a few explosions, and a bunch of black leotards.

Which brings us to Lethal Ninja, a 1993 entry into the ninja-sploitation genre.

The movie takes place in Africa,you know a place where there are generally tons of ninjas, we start off by watching some blond lady working at a science lab, analyzing some water samples. There’s some beakers and test tubes ad everyone has lab coats and they’re talking about ho the water in the area has gone bad.

Then all of the sudden some ninjas show up, just popping out of nowhere, kill everyone but the blond lady, who they kidnap. They then promptly shoot rockets at the tent full of science stuff, it explodes.

We soon meet the hero of the story JOE. He’s teaching some meditation in San Fransisco. Some government looking dudes show up to give Joe the bad news. He finds out the blond lady, who it turns out was his wife, has been kidnapped; and so he decides to go to Africa to go get her.

But not before he decides that he’s gonna need the help of his black friend from black buddy from back in the day, who kinda reminds me of Eddie Murphy. He picks him up at a dojo, and they go to Africa, armed with some crossbows and guns and stuff, not really anything particularly ninja-esque.

They get into Africa under the excuse of it being a hunting expedition, and check into a decent hotel, which just happens to be the very same hotel run by the bad guy of the movie, and also conveniently enough the very same hotel in which the blond scientist lady is being held captive! There’s two main bad guys, one is the old guy who has something to do with the government or an evil corporation or something, and the sleazy younger guy, who also might have something to do with the government or an evil corporation or something. I don’t really remember the motivations beyond the fact that someone was dumping all sorts of toxic waste into the water supply in this small African nation, and some other people were paying some people off to let it happen. Possibly, I’m pretty sure it was something like that.

Our heroes decide to take a night on the town, while they look for some contact of theirs that’s got the lowdown on the local situation, there’s a rather long scene of this chick signing, it’s a crappy filler scene,the chick is in too much of the movie, she’s like the younger bad guy’s girlfriend or something. Then the bad guys harass some government officials, and then the heroes get in a small bar fight, then they run into their contact who tells them to meet him the next day.

There’s a few scenes of the blond chick being stuck in a swank hotel with the sleazy younger bad dude, trying to hit on her, and or persuade her to join his cause/team/side on the toxic waste issue, I think he just wants a new girl. She’s like “aaawww hell naw, my man will save me”.

The heroes meet their contact, who tells them that they have to meet up with other dude, and for some reason they’ve gotta do this at what happens to be a random carnival, they find the guy on a carousel that ominously starts up on its own to reveal that the guy who they were supposed to meet has be murder killed to death with a knife.

Then it turns out that someone has put bombs on their cars!

The contact guy gets exploded, but the heroes survive.

The go to the site of the science tent massacre that took place in the first scene, and then drive up to this old abandoned, factory/mill place and end up finally fighting some ninjas. In Africa. With No Asian People In Sight. That was really one of the best things about the late 80’s and early 90’s, it didn’t matter if ninjas made sense, people liked them, and so they showed up in movies. The thing is at this point in the movie the heroes haven’t done anything ninja related either, they go into this fight with guns and a crossbow with explosive tipped arrows.

You get ninjas jumping outta trees, different colored ninjas falling off buildings, ninjas hiding in the shadows, and then some ninjas jumping out at Joe with swords.After he defeats them in clumsily choreographed combat, there’s a quick rip off of an iconic scene from Raiders of The Lost Ark. This one ninja jumps outta nowhere with some nunchucks, swings them about all threatening-like, and then just gets shot in the chest by Joe, which makes you wonder why he didn’t just shoot the other few ninjas, they were clearly inept after all.

After a small car chase they intrepid duo heads bad to the hotel for some rest, they discover some sort of plant near the hotel, and they begin to put the pieces of the plot together.

After a few boring scenes Joe finally dresses up in black like a ninja and heads off for the films best scene. He sneaks into what appears to be a roller rink. He sneaks into the place, all the lights are off and it’s almost mysterious, but then the lights turn on and he’s surrounded by ninjas.

Surrounded by ninjas on roller skates.

Yeah, roller skates, not even roller blades, which were still kinda cool back in the 90’s, but just plain old roller skates. And then all of the sudden they’re not just plain old roller skates, knives pop outta the sides! It’s like they’re Swiss army skates of death.

Then all the ninjas begin to skate around menacingly. The attack Joe one at a time, and he manages to takeout a few through his brand of poor mans kung fu. The scene ends when he throws his sword at the lights to make his quick escape, leaving the viewer to wonder why the ninjas had skates in the first place, and what this scene had to do with anything. I’m pretty sure the writers of the film were tasked with coming up with something involving ninjas that nobody had seen before, and the best they could do was ninjas on skates. I mean it is amazing and all, but it doesn’t really fit into the context of the film very well, what with it being a movie about kidnapping, pollution, and Africa.

Speaking of which, the next part has Joe and his buddy sneaking into the pollution plant under the cover of night. I’m pretty sure that the plant consists mostly of some water slides that they put some foliage around, and tried to make look more industrial.

The black dude is gets trapped in one of the big pipes, and almost gets killed by toxic waste, but in doing so he figures out the bad guys evil plot. Which is cool cause it makes almost care, but not really.

The Old dude bad guy shows up, this time with a monocle, and he’s got ninjas with machine guns, so the good guys get captured. Then they get tortured a bit, then they get freed by the bad dudes girl friend, the annoying one who sang too much in he filler scene earlier, cause she’s tired of the bad guy being a dick and always trying to hit on the blond scientist lady.

They then run around for a bit looking for blond scientist lady until they find her, the old guy bad guy gets killed and then everyone is reunited. Yay, but we still gotta take care of the other bad guy, cause he’s a dick.

Turns out he’s at that old factory place from earlier in the movie that we first encountered the ninjas at, also turns out that that’s a mine. So the bad dude makes his way to the top of a large tower for a dramatic and exciting showdown with our heroes. Wait make that hero, cause right when they get to the bottom of the big tower, the black dude, whose name I just remembered was PETER, just all of the sudden decides he doesn’t care about getting the bad guy anymore.

At the top of the tower Joe fights some more ninjas, who I guess were just waiting up there. The thing is, this is the last few minutes of the movie, and the final ninja related scene, and it’s also the most comically inept. The fight is slow, and it really looks like the actors were having a hard time trying to look even remotest bit convincing.

Just when you think that Joe and the bad guy are actually gonna fight, this one ninja sneaks up behind Joe. So Joe rolls outta the way a little bit, and makes the ninja accidentally stab his boss, who then gets hit off the top of the tower. It’s a bit anticlimactic if you’re looking for anything resembling competence.

So that’s pretty much Lethal Ninja.

Compared to quality films it doesn’t hold up very well, but when compared to other low budget action films, well you could still do quite a bit better.

But for the ninja enthusiast, who doesn’t mind their ninja films having no real reason to have ninjas; well, you’ll probably be amused. There’s a number of unintentionally funny parts, and there’s even a few explosions, and as a whole the film entertains, just not because it’s cool or anything like that. The film entertains, cause you can just tell that the filmmakers weren’t trying very hard when they made it.

It’s a movie that you don’t have to respect, it doesn’t very hard, and you don’t have to put much effort into watching it.

Compared to other ninja films, I’d say it’s worse than American Ninja parts 1, 2,and 3, but at least on par with American Ninja 5.

Lethal Ninja is available on Netflix Instant Watch at the moment, but the cover art they have for it is for a totally different movie. You either watch it on Netflix or you find a VHS copy, cause it never got a DVD release.

The Entity and Raiders of Atlantis

THE ENTITY

The Entity is a movie from 1981 about a lady who get repeatedly raped by a ghost.

Yeah you read that right, it’s a movie about ghost rape.

Ok I know how absurd that sounds, and I realize that it sound a little bit on the horrible side, but it’s actually supposedly based on a true story. So it’s a completely credible movie about ghost rape.

The movie is played almost totally serious, almost like a Lifetime Network drama. Imagine for a moment, a movie about a woman, with three children, and a husband who beats her. The movie is comprised of various scenes of her getting beat up, and then dramatic scenes of her dealing with the problem. In the end she leaves.

Just replace “husband” with “ghost” and “beating” with “rape”.

Which is weird really, this is the sort of movie that you’d expect to be played for exploitation value, but it’s not. It’s genuinely uncomfortable to watch. There is a little bit of absurdest humor to found, just based on the subject matter, but the movie itself isn’t funny.

Ok the end parts are kinda funny, cause they set up this elaborate trap to try and freeze the ghost with liquid helium.

The acting is pretty good around the board, with Barbara Hershey giving a believable performance as the woman. You feel pretty bad for her most of the movie, cause she spend a lot of it getting the crap beat outta her.

This is just one of those movies, that while good, I can’t really recommend to most people. Cause it’s a ‘Woman In Peril’ drama that just happens to feature some crazy supernatural shenanigans, but none of the revenge catharsis that we enjoy from our usual exploitation fare. It’s not really fun, but it’s pretty creepy for the most part.

It’s available on Netflix instant watch.

http://www.youtube.com/v/jjDH7DTVSN0&hl=en_US&fs=1?rel=0

RAIDERS OF ATLANTIS

I saw the trailer for Raiders of Atlantis a few years ago while watching 42nd Street Forever, and just knew I had to see it. It looked like some crazy shenanigans full of silly Road Warrior ripoff type bad guys, and that’s pretty much what it turned out to be.

The movie was directed by Cannibal Holcausot director Ruggero Deodato.

As far as the plot goes, I’m not really sure, there’s very little there. It’s something about some dudes,on a boat, and then some scientists, who’ve found some ancient artifacts near some underwater wreckage, then some stuff about an oil platform, then a giant storm shows up and some really bad miniatures and destroyed, an island pops out of the ocean, and then the Road Warrior guys show up.

From there on it’s just a whole ton of mindless shooting and action. Suffice to say it’s pretty great. It follows the 80’s action movie code of if we can’t have a quality plot, or well thought out action, lets just have more explosions and shooting.

It’s pretty mindless, I honestly didn’t know who half the characters in the movie were for most of the film. But more and more bad dudes keep showing up, and so more people get shot. There’s a bus chases where some guys jump out of a helicopter onto a moving bus, and that was pretty cool. The main characters go to the island that came out of the ocean, which I assume is part of Atlantis, they shoot a whole bunch of dudes, half the main characters die, along with a few side characters, then there’s some lasers or something, and at some point the movie ends.

I watched it like three weeks ago, while I was pretty tired, so I mostly just remember lots of shooting.

I was entertained quite a bit by the movie, despite not having much of an idea as to what was going on besides loud noises and shenanigans. For fans of B action movies from the 80’s there’s quite a bit of enjoyment to be found in Raiders of Atlantis.

Interestingly enough, the movie has never gotten a DVD release in the USA, so I ended up watching it on what appeared to be some sort of Scandinavian VHS rip.

http://www.youtube.com/v/yQ0m-idDCLg&hl=en_US&fs=1?rel=0

Missing In Action – One of Chuck Norris' Many Adventures In Vietnam

Hey you remember the 1970’s when all the movies about Vietnam were heavy handed and sad? Like The Deer Hunter?

Yeah thank God the 1980’s happened.

That’s when all the movie about Vietnam were about us going back, cleaning shit up, killing the bad guys, and making things right. While not exactly historically accurate, movies like Rambo: First Blood Part II, and Uncommon Valor, pretty much made America feel awesome again as a country. These sort of movies, were a lot less sad, and a whole lot more entertaining.

Which brings us to the movie of the day Missing in Action starring bearded, killing machine Chuck Norris.

Norris stars as a man who went to Vietnam, was stuck in a prison camp for a number of years, and is generally sour about the whole situation in that country. He knows that there are still American men being held prisoner over in ‘Nam despite the fact that the Vietnamese government is denying it.

In fact they’re holding a summit of sorts to publicly announce that the claims of there still being Americans are untrue. But we know they’re lying, and Chuck knows they’re lying, so after having a Vietnam flashback/dream he picks up the phone tells some government people he’ll help ’em, and so he’s off to ‘Nam again as some sort of… ok I’m not totally sure how they explain the reasoning in bringing Chuck to a Vietnamese government function. He’s there, that’s what matters and the movie aint wasting any precious minutes on plot.

Once the meeting starts, this slimy Vietnamese official turns the whole thing into a trial, he puts Chuck on the spot, straight up calls him a war criminal and then brings out a bunch of fake witnesses that say that ole Chuck is a bad man. Chuck goes up to them and they can’t even look him in the eye, cause they feel so bad about having to lie about Chuck, one old dude even apalogizes to him, and Chuck’s like “Hey man, it’s ok, I know you don’t have a choice”.

Chuck then calls the slimy officials assholes and leaves.

Later that night, he hits on the American chick that came to ‘Nam with him so  he can get into her room, then he promptly dresses like a ninja, sneaks out, and fins that slimy official. He sneaks into the guys bedroom holds a knife to his throat and demands to know where the POW’s are. The guy tries to lie to Chuck, and then winds up dead when he tries to shoot him in the back. This sequence ends with the evil Vietnamese army guys chasing Norris all the way back to the hotel that he’s staying at, so right when he sneaks back in he grabs the chick from earlier, pulls of her top, jumps into bed with her, and then they begin to pretend they’ve been doing it all night when the army breaks into the hotel room. It’s all kinds of amazing.

So is told to leave the country or he’ll get killed, so he goes to find an old Vietnam friend of his, whom he finds in the middle of a silly bar fight, and they buy some weapons and a raft. Not just any raft mind you, but one made out of Kevlar! So it’s bullet proof, which’ll turn out to be very convenient later. The best thing about this scene is that Chuck decides to haggle with the arms dealer who sells him all the stuff, by threatening to kill him. It’s right then that the dealer forgets he has armed goons, and somehow Chuck walks out of the deal with a bunch of stuff on the cheap. Chuck actually does most of his negotiating in the movie via threats of violence, he’s not much of talker.

A guy jumps out of an armoire and tries to kill Chuck, later there’s a car chase, and then Chuck an his friend head upriver to wherever the prison camp is. They show up at night, and Chuck blows up pretty much the entire camp, and kills all the bad dudes there without even the slightest bit of trouble. Except it turns out that they’ve just moved all the Americans cause they knew Chuck was coming.

DAMNIT! Oh wait, they have a super fast motorized raft with a mounted machine gun, they can totally catch up to the convoy and shoot the fuck out of it!

So they do. It’s pretty amusing cause like half the sequence is you just wondering why the bad guys can’t shoot Chuck Norris and his raft, and then you remember it’s cause the raft is bullet poof, and so is Mr. Norris. They do blow up the raft with a rocket launcher in the end, but that just gives Chuck Norris an excuse to rise up out of the water like a bad-ass, and blow away the remaining bad dudes in slow motion.

Then there’s some more chasing, some more shooting, a helicopter shows up, and eventually the day is saved.

Missing in Action is a quintessential 80’s action movie. Low on plot, carried on the shoulders of a famous macho guy with limited acting range, and has a decent amount of shooting and explosions. It’s not the best, Rambo is better, but Missing in Action will provide you with the Chuck Norris and action fix you need. It’s competent for the 80’s and it is better than some of the other movies put out by the prolific Cannon Films, it’s slightly more serious than the ninja centric fare of the later 80’s. It’s also got two sequels Missing in Action 2: The Beginning, and Braddock: Missing in Action 3.

Missing in Action was directed by Joseph Zito who would later direct another film starring Norris, Invasion USA. Invasion USA is a much more amusing movie, cause it’s essentially about Communists invading South Florida, and having almost all of their evil plots stopped by Chuck.

The bottom line is: If you’re in the mood for seeing some Vietcong get demolished by a bullet proof American then Missing in Action will make your day.