It’s a scientific fact that everyone likes ninjas, so why do ninjas always get shit on? They’re supposed to be the baddest of the bad, able to silently kill anyone anywhere and slink away without a trace, yet movies featuring ninjas almost always have one white guy who’s able to slaughter them by the dozen without breaking a sweat. It’s an insult to the might and majesty of the mysterious ninja that he is used as anonymous cannon fodder for the Chuck Norrises and Michael Dudikoffs of the world, simply because his identity-obscuring face mask allows the same stuntman to be used in multiple scenes.
I’ve long desired a movie that gave the ninja the respect he deserves, and for my sins, I have found it. Naturally, this is another movie that isn’t out on DVD. The Man doesn’t want you to see it, because then you’ll know how powerful ninjas really are. One ninja could take down The Man himself with just a single well-flung shuriken, so this important document has been suppressed so that the masses won’t learn how flimsy and precarious the system truly is. Ninja III: The Domination is like the red pill; once you see it, you’ll never be fooled by the Matrix again.
This amazing film opens with not only the finest display of ninjing I have ever witnessed, but possibly one of the top-ten most impressive first scenes in action history. We first see the shadowy Ninja the Third clambering around on some Wile E. Coyote rock formations on his way to his secret Ninja Cave, where he keeps a cache of ninja weapons. He emerges at sunrise in olive-green ninja garb, the better to blend in with the foliage at the golf course where his target is playing a leisurely 18 holes, surrounded by his ladyfriend and assorted bodyguards. They prove no match for our hero, who easily dispatches them all with throwing stars and his trusty katana. He also displays superhuman strength by crushing a golf ball in his palm, stopping a golf cart with his bare hands, and bending a golf club over his forearm. Basically, golf is for pussies is what this ninja is saying.
This scene then achieves ultimate ninjation when our hero is beset from all sides by an infestation of insect-like policemen. They come in cars, in helicopters, and on motorcycles, bearing the finest assault weaponry that 1984 had to offer, but Ninja the Third lays waste to them as if they were paper targets. He rides on top of police cars and picks off bike cops with Chinese stars. He climbs a tree and boards the chopper mid-flight, slaughtering the crew before leaping to the water hazard below. He eludes the law by making a snorkel out of a bamboo reed, which also doubles as a blowgun. He slaughters his foolish pursuers in their dozens before he is finally surrounded and pumped full of literally hundreds of bullets. But you think that’s gonna stop him? Ninja please. Even poked full of more holes than a saltshaker, he continues to kill and kill and kill again. No mortal man could take such punishment. Is he a god? A demon? No. He is ninja unleashed, and the modern world quakes from his fury.
Even hundreds of gunshot wounds can’t stop his murderous rampage. He throws down a smoke bomb and seems to disappear into thin air. As the police scatter to continue the search, he emerges from the loose dirt in which he had buried himself. Unfortunately, there is only so much damage even a ninjitsu grandmaster can withstand, but luckily, he happens across Chrissy, a sexy brunette telephone repairperson (played by Lucinda Dickey of Breakin’ and Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo fame) who also teaches aerobics classes on the side. In an ancient mystical rite, he infects her with his essence so that he can get post-humous revenge on the cowardly policemen who killed him.
Even though all Chrissy wants to do is jazzercise, jazzercise, jazzercise, swinging her taut, sweaty torso to that infectious eighties synth beat, she keeps becoming possessed by the spirit of the ninja, which takes the form of strobelights and a fog machine emanating from all of her plumbing fixtures and electrical appliances, including the arcade version of Bouncer that she has in her spacious loft apartment. Then the ninja’s katana starts floating through the air into her hands, and she sleepwalks up to Ninja Cave to score some weapons and a ninja costume that fetchingly hugs her svelte hips and thighs. Then, possessed with the spirit and abilities of the ninja, she proceeds to hunt and kill the surviving cops from the first scene one by one. You wouldn’t really think a ninja movie would require this much plot, but this was made by Canon Films, the undisputed kings of ninja cinema, so I guess they know their business.
Believe it or not, we’re only about a half-hour into this thing at this point, but its potent mix of ninjitsu and aerobics has already provided us with enough awesome for three movies. From here on out, the plot gets complicated by the fact that Chrissy’s new boyfriend is one of the cops on the ninja’s hit list, so he brings her to a Japanese witch doctor (played by Lo Pan from Big Trouble in Little China, obviously) who makes her go full-on Ninja Blair and start flipping around in circles and talking in a computer-processed demon voice and kicking the wind machine into high gear. Lo Pan says only another ninja can kill a ninja, but luckily, Head Ninja In Charge Sho Kosugi is in town, sporting an awesome engraved eyepatch and a poorly established thirst for vengeance. It’s no secret that I’m not the world’s biggest Sho fan, even though he’s been in some great movies like 9 Deaths of the Ninja and Pray For Death. I’m sure he’s a bad motherfucker, but his fighting style has never come off as all that impressive onscreen. Here, he’s the fucking man, though. He steals the evil ninja’s corpse from the morgue and drags it up to an ancient Japanese temple in the hills of Arizona. Then he somehow forces the ninja’s spirit to repossess his dead body, and the two of them have a rip-roaring ninja-on-ninja battle all over the countryside.
Obviously, you want to see this one as soon as possible, but I know what you’re thinking: “What the fuck, Majestyk? I’ve never even heard of Ninja 1 and 2. How the hell am I supposed to understand Ninja III?” Well, in answer to your question: 1. I don’t understand your hostility toward me; and 2. Ninja III is actually the sequel to Enter the Ninja and Revenge of the Ninja, two not-all-that-great movies whose only connection is that they both feature Sho Kosugi in some capacity. Feel free to skip both of those so you can jump right into the bootleg glory of Ninja III: The Domination. It’s like if The Exorcist and The Street Fighter got together and made rough, dirty love to Flashdance while Poltergeist watched. When it finally hits legitimate DVD, I hope they put that quote on the cover.