5.9/10
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4 user 4 critic

Ninja Holocaust (1985)

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Credited cast:
Phillip Ko
Sandy Kwon ...
(as Chae Eun Hee)
John Ladalski
Casanova Wong
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City Ninja  »

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Energetic mess that makes no sense at all
26 October 2007 | by (Wavy Wheat, Nebraska) – See all my reviews

I saw this under the title "City Ninja", which makes even less sense than the title "Ninja Holocaust". Yes, there are a few ninja in this movie, but they aren't in the city, they are out in the country, where all good one-with-nature ninja types dwell. The other title, "108 Golden Killers" or some such, actually sort of applies here. The hero seems to fight at least 108 different opponents throughout the course of the movie. But really, who cares? This is a hyperactive, gonzo mess. It took a full 90 minutes to get through it. At the end of that 90 minutes, I was no wiser than before as to what the heck was supposed to be going on, or as to the moral or point of the movie.

The plot, as far as I can tell, is this: A necklace is bobbing around SE Asia (maybe Hong Kong, maybe rural Korea), and it has the number of a Swiss bank account written on it. Some underworld types want to get it, and they hire "Jimmy", a boxer/kung-fu expert, to procure it for them. So the necklace is a MacGuffin, a plot device to set in motion a nice "quest" movie, as well as a good excuse for an array of fight scenes.

This doesn't satisfy the director, though. He decided to throw in a seven-layer-salad of plot complications, detours and general irrelevancies including a weird, clumsy love triangle between Jimmy, the gang boss' mistress and a singer that involves a lot of soft-core porn (including a sex scene on a rowing machine -I hope he wiped it down after wards);dozens of odd characters (including "the bald headed gang") who pop into the movie at random and then disappear, never to be seen again; and fights that start up at the drop of a hat.

BTW Jimmy seems to vary in skill from "unstoppable Bruce Lee android clone" in some scenes to "unable to kung-fu his way out of a wet paper bag" in others. Seeing him almost get his clock cleaned in a boxing ring in one scene only to wade through an entire camp of armed ninja 20 minutes later is very confusing. And no, this isn't the kind of story where the character grows in skill as a result of his challenges; "Jimmy" simply continues to punch and kick people with varying degrees of success as the movie progresses. Although "progress" may be the wrong word.

More? The fight scene in the credits (between a Caucasian guy in a gi and black belt and 4-8 ninjas) seems to be imported from another movie entirely. The big final fight scene between Jimmy and an anonymous bruiser as he tries to rescue his girlfriend, seems to end with Jimmy getting his face kicked in, but the movie shows him walking around with his rescued girlfriend none the worse for wear just a minute later.

More? Jimmy can fight and kill 8 men at a time, but he can't wrestle a pistol away from his angry mistress and she accidentally shoots herself in the struggle. (She was holding a gun on him because he was about to leave here for the singer, and she was pregnant and upset about being abandoned. So Jimmy is a cad, along with everything else). Various tough underworld types seem to compete for the necklace, but I am blamed if I can keep them straight, or tell why we have to watch one of them shagging his mistress and why another one wears kabuki makeup.

More? The bad guys find Jimmy's girlfriend (the singer) and kidnap her (how they find her is never revealed, they just do) and then they put her on a table and...um...spin it. I'm not sure if this is supposed to be a form of torture or an odd sort of fetish foreplay before the actual (inevitable) rape attempt. (Of course there is a rape attempt. It's that sort of movie).

Even more? Jimmy is lazing about on the gangleader yacht with the mistress for an afternoon of sun and sex when the yacht is boarded by another bunch of the gang (I think), including guys in frog man suits with spear guns...and Jimmy jumps overboard (leaving his pregnant mistress to fend for herself). Then Jimmy's brother, who is seemingly psychic, chooses that moment to come to the rescue in a speed boat (!!) Did I mention that Jimmy has a brother? He has a brother, who is apparently the comic relief in the movie. Anyway, the bad guys chase Jimmy and brother in their own boat, and the chief bad guy keeps telling the guy at the throttle to "go faster!". You know, because apparently all the boat driver wanted to do was to not lose ground too slowly. But Jimmy's boat is too fast, or there are too many guys on the bad guy's boat, and our heroes happily flee, again, leaving (as I said) the woman to deal with things as best she can.

Oh, and at the end of the film the chief surviving gang boss has been arrested (for no reason we can see) and finks on Jimmy so that Jimmy is arrested (for the murder of the gang wife's boss he accidentally shot, not for the 90-100 other people he killed with his bare hands in the course of the movie) and the movie just stops.

I'd like to give 'City Ninja" the benefit of the doubt. I'm sure that in its original version it was a much better film here than the weird mongoloid spazz-fest that emerged as the version I saw on the Treeline 50 movie DVD pack collection. Stupid, but fun. 3 starts out of 10.


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