24 December 2008

Full Metal Ninja

Full Metal Ninja
Hong Kong – 1988
Godfrey Ho(as Charles Lee)
Imperial Entertainment Corp., 1989, VHS

Preceded by its own trailer, Full Metal Ninja wastes no time in attempting to inflate its own appearance beyond reasonable expectations by including the few good parts of the film in this misleading preview. If we've learned anything about Godfrey Ho at this point, this film is going to be a long uphill battle.
Leon, a honky ninja sporting a fabulous pink outfit, engages two black clad ninjas identified as henchmen working for Boris the evil yellow ninja. Leon kills one of them with the terrifying destructive might of a flintlock pistol and sends the other to tell Boris his time has come. Boris weaves a heartwrenching tale of intrigue and betrayal between ninjas to his sidekick (red ninja, Luther), to explain the bad blood between he and Leon.

In the Asian portion of the film a fighter named Eagle nearly duplicates the Leon-Boris epic as he winds his way through an absurd confused costume drama while looking for an evil General, who's holding his wife hostage and making sweet love to her. Despite a promising start this mismatched period piece rapidly degrades to wacky Flintstones outfits and clown makeup.

Nevertheless Eagle makes a point of punishing most of these over-the-top villains for having flashier costumes than his own. The fights involve much wacky jumping and samurai-like single sword-strikes, and even though there is almost no other weapon-on-body contact, Eagle inflicts enough body party detatchment and blood squirts to impress Leon who asks him for some sword lessons while standing in front of a blue sheet on some distant cheap set. Eagle grumbles and offers him a raincheck so he can continue his own blood-soaked campaign of terror against cloying couture. Unfortunately when Red Ninja Luther and lackeys attack, Leon goes all "full metal", blasting away wildly with his flintlock and killing most of them. This guy has yellow fever so bad you'd think that he would want to surround himself with as many ninjas as possible to give himself some credibility, but he can't restrain from firing off his saucy hardware. Lucky for Luther, the flintlock Leon has pointed at his chest is empty because bullets are "expensive and hard to come by", so Leon sends him back to Boris with yet another warning, wishing I'm sure that he hadn't blown his full metal wad on the small fry and had someone else to play ninja with.

Left with little screen time, and desperate to some smidgen of credibility before Eagle finishes his part of the movie, Leon enlists a Buddhist monk to quickly mutter over the remainder of the proceedings and convince Eagle that he is in the same movie and will join Leon to defeat evil. The only catch is that to make the prayer work, they each have to speak aloud the others name as often as possible even if the other is not present in the same shot. It takes the monk saving Eagle's grits from the General, and inviting Leon over to ply the gritty, restrained Eagle with drinks before he will join up with the effusive Leon (or rather, play along with the whole name uttering scheme).Eagle, perplexingly, restrains himself from dispatching the gaudily clad Leon, and finally teaches him some sword skills - skills Leon promptly ignores, preferring his tried and true tactic of bashing his fellow ninjas to death with his sword as if he were hammering nails.

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