10 September 2012

Ninja Fantasy

Alas, my tape has no box and so, I borrowed this from the ether.

Ninja Fantasy
Hong Kong/Thailand - 198?
Director - Godfrey Ho
Trans World Entertainment, 1988, VHS
Run Time: 1 hour and thirty-five whole minutes

Here we have yet another hodgepodge honky-ninja misadventure from frankenfilm auteur Godfrey Ho. Ninja Fantasy is hands-down the best Weak-Chinned-Euro-Ninja-Drug-Kingpin-in-China film to ever be set in a Thai strip mine. Even though the overall plot, if you can say that the plot is really over “all” of the film, isn’t so clever that it requires serious effort at attention paying, it takes on a whole new energy in this particular patchwork context. So, an Euro-ninja in a brightly colored outfit is running a drug smuggling operation, and another Euro-ninja is the Drug Enforcement Agent sent to take him down; In Thailand the other half of the film would have us believe. Or maybe not. Thanks to local signage in several scenes, it was obviously Thailand, but I don’t remember anybody actually saying “Thailand.” It hardly matters where when you’re buying cheap foreign films in bulk for repurposing. It’s all going to be chopped to bits and dubbed over with some occidental-ninjas in a cheerful palate of identical outfits anyway.

However easily disparaged his work may be, one has to give Mr. Ho some credit for highly creative ninja antics on a half-shoestring-budget. Not since Robert Tai’s 1986 water-spider riding ninja masterpiece Ninja the Final Duel have ninjas performed so many chuckle-inducingly miraculous feats of mid-attack lunacy as we are blessed with in Ninja Fantasy. (And that was a whole film.) Of course, these are all too brief, and once the temporary surge of endorphins wears off the weary viewer, one is left speculating that lest he run out, Mr. Ho only allotted himself a single clever idea per film.

The longstanding rivalry between our two main characters comes to a head when the sidekick Agent is mercilessly kidnapped by the sidekick Smuggler ninjas. In the interim some conflict over mining-rights, inheritance and related profits comes to a head in the remaining scenes. The plodding, mind-numbing progress of the plot, and incomprehensible implied connection between the two constituent films notwithstanding, Ninja Fantasy is among Godfrey’s finest barely-watchable cinematic abortions. As much as one attempts to enjoy watching -and the joy is in the attempting, not the watching- these films would be far better served as a series of action packed ninja-shorts. Just leave out the “second unit” footage culled from abroad and reassemble the white guys into a half hour action-ninja-episode, say two or three to a volume. Should any poor bastard with the inclination to deconstruct these patchwork films read this poorly written essay, and decide to pursue just such an ill-advised business plan, get in touch- I’d be willing to invest.

 A full box from, you guessed it, Rare Kung Fu Movies.com

1 comment:

Ty said...

Nice write-up!

Looks like an interesting Godfrey Ho movie. Cool cover too.