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Quality is Directly-Related to How Many Friends are Present when Viewing
RAGE OF NINJA/RAGE OF A NINJA is a hard film to review. I like it, and think it's a lot of fun. However, it's hard to pass over the long stretches of nothing that typify Godfrey Ho and Joseph Lai's "style" during the IFD days. Is a 6 a low score here? Not necessarily. The film is better than average! However, the more friends you trick into seeing this, the funnier this movie becomes.
Mike Abbot is probably one of my favorite of the Ho actors. Something about his bug-eyes, unshapely teeth, and Cornish accent (e.g., "YEW BASSTID") leave a firm impression. This is probably his single best performance in any of the Ho movies (note: honorable mention goes to Ninja Knight: Thunder Fox), mainly because he has the chance to be in fight scenes, villainous plotting scenes, scenes where he kills someone by splashing an energy drink in their face, and toward the end, one of the most hilarious pantomime actions in any Godfrey Ho movie. It's right after that phone call. You'll know it when you see it.
The point being: Mike gets to have a lot of fun in this role, and that fun rubs off on us, meaning we have a good time, too.
I haven't mentioned Marko Ritchie, the film's hero and "star" yet, because dramatically, he's on the thespian level of sandpaper. The plot of the movie is quite clear-cut for a Ho Ninja movie: Marko Ritchie has a manual that Mike Abbot wants, and he won't give it to Mike. Abbot believes the "MANYUL" will turn him into the "ULTIMATE NINJA!" (the film's infamous best scene and tour de force of Abbot's acting ability), and he periodically sends out goons to harass Marko to get said manyul. These scenes are really precious to behold, and are so zany and bizarre it feels like you are watching a work of genius, all the way up to the film's bizarrely surreal abrupt ending, which is the cap on this fine film.
But this is a Godfrey Ho film! The ninja footage can't be more than 15 minutes total, and the rest of the run time consists of some unfinished crime drama movie that is -----barely----- related to the plot, aside from some hilarious blink-and-you-miss-them attempts at bridging the stories. This movie centers around an Asian man named Steve. Ol' Stevo was trying to break up a jewelry-thief-circle (run by Mike Abbot), but after nearly beating a man to death for having sex with his wife (another goon working for Abbot - adultery, theft, this guy must control all vice in Hong Kong!), he goes on the run hiding out in the expansive estate of some rich girl. He ties her to the bed and smacks the stuffing out of her, but she is apparently into that, because the next scene she's in love. Women, I tell ya.
This begins the film's weakest parts. Watch as Ho lovingly left in an extended five minute scene of a girl washing her leg in a bath. It's five minutes, but will feel like fifteen. Watch another scene as people play badminton for a while and talk. Sometimes Steve will fight someone, sometimes there will be a random gang of orgy-rapists on a beach having a barbecue, but it will mostly be the most inane queasy banter between Steve and Girl. Sometimes Ho strikes it rich with a fun, interesting subplot (see: Ninja Terminator). Here, it's dull. But that dullness itself becomes fun to watch with the right group of friends. It accentuates the ninja scenes so much that it magnifies their entertainment value.
If you have friends and you want to watch a Godfrey Ho movie, I would probably recommend starting with Ninja Terminator. However, if you've seen a couple of Ho films, RAGE OF NINJA is one I can recommend with some reservations. It's one of my personal favorites of Ho's work for all its badness. Just make sure you're not watching it alone. Misery, after all, loves company.
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