I attained this movie based on two things, my love for The Cannon Group and ninjas. I will say this that The Cannon Group produced many action movies in the 1980s. The American Ninja series was produced by The Cannon Group. So the fact that "Revenge of the Ninja" was produced by The Cannon Group and directed by Sam Firstenberg, who went on to direct both "American Ninja 1 & 2" just fueled my love for this flick.
The plot is simple Cho Tanaka (Sho Kosugi) and his six year old son Kane come to California (but in this version of California all of the cars have Utah license plates) after his family is slaughtered by ninjas in Japan. Cho is in partnership with his friend Braden in opening an art gallery paying homage to Japanese art, in this case dolls. Cho doesn't know that Braden is secretly dealing heroin that is hidden inside these dolls.
Well to make a long story short, Braden's secret is discovered by Kane and the former attempts to kill the little boy. I should note that Braden is an American Ninja (not the Michael Dudikoff brand) and is quite skilled in the martial arts. When Braden dresses as a ninja, he is dressed all in black and has a metal mask on. It actually looks kind of creepy. Digressing, Kane is a chip off the old block and knows his fair share of kung fu. As a matter of fact, it is really quite amusing watching this little kid fight.
It doesn't take Cho long to realize something is amiss and he starts kicking butt and taking names. The fights in this movie are so over the top, the violence is so graphic that it actually made my mouth drop a couple of times. This movie is 26 years old and I can't think of a movie made in the past two years that could hold a candle next to it with regards to content and action. A perfect example is the fight sequence that revolves around a van.
Some notably things to keep an eye open for in this movie.
- A politically incorrect Indian that could be called Chief Tomahawk. - An Italian gangster who is such a diet Joe Pesci, that I call him Jack Pesci. - The fight sequence that transpires at an awesome playground. - A group of thugs that look like The Village People. - California that uses Utah license plates on their automobiles. - Torture by Jacuzzi. - An evil ninja that is nothing short of Shredder and/or Darth Vader. - A six year old who could beat up Jean-Claude Van Damme.
I have never seen a film featuring Sho Kosugi until "Revenge of the Ninja". I must admit Kosugi is an amazing martial artist, watching him fight is like watching Fred Astaire dance. I can't believe I haven't seen him in more movies; perhaps he didn't make that many films. It should be noted that the little boy who plays his son, is in fact his son in real life.
This piece of cinema is a revenge film in the most simplistic form and it never tried to be anything that it wasn't. I felt a real sense excitement while watching this film and it will be viewed again many times in the future. The only special feature is the trailer/preview. I am now going to find a ninja costume see if I can jump kick without blowing my back out.
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Joshua E Hoppock (The_Straw_Man)
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The Ninja are back! Brandishing swords and fists, leaping and kicking, wielding blow darts and explosives, they know a thousand ways to kill. Martial arts legend Sho Kosugi delivers a heart-pounding display of strength, speed and lethal Ninja know-how in this action-packed thriller that 'takes us back to the good old days of the kung fu extravaganza (Screen International). When a band of Ninja assassins slaughters the family of Cho Osaki (Kosugi), he flees to America in the hopeof building a new life. A former Ninja himself, Osaki tries to escape his deadly past but soon discovers he has become the pawn of a ruthless drug traffickeran American Ninja intent on killing anyone who crosses his path...including Osaki!