by guest contributor Daniel Amrani
Warning, this review contains spoilers!
Revenge of The Ninja is a 1983 Ninja classic! This film is part of a ninja trilogy. The first one was Enter the Ninja (1981). Revenge of the Ninja (1983) was the second. The trilogy ended with Ninja III: The Domination (1984). I use the term trilogy loosely here, because none of the three films are related to each other in terms of story or characters. The film’s star Sho Kosugi starred in all three of these movies, but in each of them he played different characters.
The casting in this film is good. Sho Kosugi plays the hero Cho Osaki – a peaceful, naïve but somewhat likable guy who is also a ninja. Sho is perfectly cast as the lead and star of the film, as he shows a strong screen presence. Keith Vitali (also starred in Jackie Chan’s “Wheels On Meals” alongside Benny “The Jet” Urquidez) plays Dave Hatcher, a policeman and friend of Cho. Virgil Frye is Lieutenant Dire and Dave’s Boss. Arthur Roberts is Braden, Cho’s business partner and friend. Mario Gallo is Chifano, a mafia boss. Grace Oshita, Cho’s mother and grandmother to Cho’s son. Ashley Ferrare plays Cathy, Braden’s Assistant. Kane Kosugi plays Kane Osaki, Cho’s younger son. The film is directed by Sam Firstenberg who went on to direct more exciting movies like the Ninja III: The Domination, American Ninja 1 & 2, and Avenging Force.
The movie begins in Japan, when Cho’s family are massacred at his home by ninjas. Cho’s mother and younger son are the only family members left alive. A big battle takes place and Cho avenges his family’s death. His friend Braden, who is also in Japan, persuades him to go to America and offers him a partnership at a doll gallery.
Skip to several years later…One day Kane accidentally drops and breaks one of the dolls, exposing a white dust contained inside that is heroin. Braden has been using the doll gallery as a front for his drug operation. Braden tries to sell the drugs to mafia boss Chifano. Chifano refuses and tries to intimidate Braden, which leads to an all-out war. Braden starts eliminating Chifano’s men in order to get him to agree to his terms.
Chifano sends three of his goons to steal the dolls at Cho’s gallery. Cho arrives to see thugs loading his dolls in a van. They attack Cho and he promptly responds by giving the bad guys a taste of their own medicine. The goons still manage to escape with the dolls.
Braden makes his final move on Chifano and his organisation by killing everyone in his path. Cho catches up to Braden. The film ends with the final fight between Cho and Braden.
This movie is action packed from start to finish. The film has some of the most amazing action set pieces seen in an American martial arts film. Early on we see an incredibly long and intense battle that displays the amazing set of skills and abilities that the ninjas have at their disposal. We get a taste of some of the ninja weaponry and tools that are used throughout the film. The weapons that you see in the opening ninja battle range, from various hand held weapons including throwing stars, ninja swords, bows and arrows, spears, sickles (short scythe) and Kusari-Gama – this is a combination of a sickle and a long chain with a weight attached to the end of it.
We see many amazing skills and disciplines of the martial arts such as, Ninjutsu, Karate, Kendo, Judo, iaido, Kobudo, and Aikido. The film showcases many tricks and tools that are used by ninjas like hand claws, grappling hooks, a cane sword, caltrops, throwing darts, and various chained weapons, including the famous nunchaku (nunchuks), and the list goes on and on. The final fight is fantastic and definitely the main highlight of the film.
Watching this movie, you can tell that great care, hard work and great skill have gone into delivering all the action scenes throughout the film and it clearly shows. The martial arts chorography is brilliantly staged by Sho Kosugi. Sho proves that not only is he a proficient martial artist, but he can also handle the fight choreography perfectly as his timing and selling of the fight scenes are impeccable.
It’s a real shame they don’t make films like this anymore! Revenge of The Ninja is an old school martial arts gem. If you are looking for realism, you will not find it here. This film is all about good old-fashioned entertainment. If you are a martial arts fan you will like this film a lot. Many fans consider Revenge of The Ninja to be the best ninja film ever made; I can find no argument with that. I personally consider this film and Ninja III to be the best ninja movies that I have ever seen! Check it out!
- The Kuji-Kiri are the Ninja’s Nine Levels of Power. They are: 1. Rin – Strength of mind and body. 2. Kyo – Direction of energy. 3. Toh – Harmony with the universe. 4. Sha – Healing of self and others. 5. Kai – Premonition of danger. 6. Jin – Knowing the thoughts of others. 7. Retsu – Mastery of time and space. 8. Zai – Control of the elements of nature. 9. Zen – Enlightenment.
- The name of the art gallery was CHO – meaning Oriental Art. Ninjutsu was the ‘art of invisibility’. The martial art is also known as Ninpo and Ninjitsu-Ryu. Sho Kosugi is an actual Ninpo practitioner and was the movie’s technical advisor and fight co-choreographer. Kosugi starred in numerous other 1980’s ninja movies.
- The final rooftop fight scene between Sho Kosugi and the villain took two weeks to shoot. Director Sam Firstenberg in an interview said “this is because there were many effects, pyrotechnics, mechanical rigging, safety considerations, elaborate camera positioning (including hanging 20 stories high outside the building), and the helicopter shots”.
Film Rating: 8/10
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