In this action-packed romantic adventure story, a beautiful woman must perform feats of bravery in order to inherit a $28 million fortune and win the man she loves. Lots of stunts featuring... See full summary »
Lee Van Cleef,
After his family is killed in Japan by ninjas, Cho and his son Kane come to America to start a new life. He opens a doll shop but is unwittingly importing heroin in the dolls. When he finds... See full summary »
Tiger is the owner of a brothel who moonlights as a kung fu artist under the watchful eye of "Master." They run into serious trouble when ninjas inexplicably show up and jeopordize Tiger's prostitution ring.
John Peter Macallister, was a Korean veteran who after serving, decided to live in Japan, and while there, he studied Ninjitsu and became a Ninja. Thirty years later he learned that he has a daughter, so left to find her. Apparently, though, he can't leave the sect that he is with, because it means that he is now marked for death. He manages to escape, and upon arriving in the States, he meets Max Keller, a drifter who has a penchant for getting involved with other people's problems and helping them out if he can. Max and Macallister hook up, with Max helping Macallister find his daughter, and Macallister teaching him the ways of the ninja. At the same evading Okasa, one of Macallister's students who is now sworn to kill him. Written by
For fans of Van Clief and indiscriminate fans of anything 'ninja-oriented'
I thought that the first couple of episodes of "The Master" (later released as "Master Ninja I') had some nice moments. Lee Van Clief may have been far too old, flabby, and frail to physically convince the audience that he could be a ninja master (amazing how "he" lost his gut whenever the stunt double stood in for him in the black ninja costume) but he did project a certain old school machismo and he could always deliver a good line. Yes, Demi Moore stuck out like a sore thumb in episode 1, and the wheelchair chick and the dancer from episode two delivered some of the worst lines in the history of television, but still...There were some decent stunts (for a TV series) and some energetic sword fights and a few decent attempts at wry East-meets-West humor. It was never 'great' the way "The Fugitive" was great, but it didn't actively suck...at first. And episode 2 had one great line (even though Van Patten flubbed it): "I knew the Master would find a way to get me up on a tightrope sooner or later." Given the situation, it was pretty funny.
The problem lay in the fact that a) the producers rapidly ran out of ideas after the first few episodes, reducing the show to a buddy version of "Then Came Bronson", and b) Timothy Van Patten's mush-mouthed delivery and frozen faced acting got old quick and c) there was very little chemistry between the two lead actors. Anyone who wasn't a male adolescent with an obsession with martial arts would find very little to interest them, especially since the series producers watered down the 'ninja' content extensively - they seemed to be trying to increase the series' appeal to American audiences, but they only alienated that core element who was only watching the show for the ninja action in the first place.
Especially annoying was the fact that Van Patten was supposed to be some kind of "Tiger Beat" teen-idol and had a different love interest in every episode, but the lack of chemistry between him and his female of the week was apparent even to a blind man. To be fair to Van Patten, the writers put him in some incredibly contrived situations and gave him some very dopey dialog to convey his hipness...I'm not sure Cary Grant could have pulled off some of those scenes.
Although I spend a lot of time thinking about and practicing martial arts, I gave up on this series by episode 4, and every time I checked in on it for a minute or two (as the season wore on) I found even less to keep me going back. It looks like everyone else agreed, and the show sank without a trace. Too bad...but the series was a day late (to cash in on Bruce Lee) and a dollar short (wasn't willing to live up to the potential of its concept).
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