A dramatic journey through the dreck we all know and love.
Why Did I Watch This?
Ninja III: The Domination is a nonsensical and strange film that happened to be playing at Legends in New York City as a result of a free, monthly-ish event put on by an organization called Wasted Cinema. I had seen flyers at my local comic book shop for a few months and last week I finally had the time and energy to attend. In fact, the flyer for Friday nights’ show is part of the reason I thought to write this feature in the first place.
We’ve all accidentally stumbled across a handful of Golan-Globus films (Hell… some of them are even good) So while I was familiar with Enter the Ninja starring Franco Nero, I had yet to see either the second or third movie in the trilogy. Good thing the movies aren’t connected in any way outside of the word “ninja” in the title and the inclusion of ninja film mainstay, Sho Kosugi.
How Did I Watch It?
Being that it’s seen in a bar with a large group of people, the fine folks at Wasted Cinema encourage drinking. To be frank, that’s a lifesaver for a movie like this. There are themed cocktails, cues for a drinking game, and even a live Twitter feed on some of the tv screens for some riffing by the people in attendance.
In addition to all the fun of watching the film there were raffles and even an intermission to help some of the more difficult movies go down a little more smoothly. Full disclosure: I won a 3D dvd of Friday the 13th Part III!
What Did I Watch?
Sam Firstenberg (American Ninja) directs this extremely muddled supernatural thriller about a dying, heavily eye-shadowed ninja who sends his spirit to inhabit a woman named Christie (played by Lucinda Dickey of Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo fame). The movie begins as the eponymous evil ninja is going about his normal day-to-day murderous rampage business until he is rudely ambushed by the police and shot roughly 25-30 times with all manner of bullets. He magically buries himself underground and escapes so that he can transfer his soul into a beautiful telecoms engineer by staring at her very hard and handing her his sword.
At first the change isn’t apparent, but as she continuously encounters the police officers that “killed” the original ninja she makes a mental note and returns by night to dispatch them while in a hypnotic trance. It’s never explained why the ninja was performing an assassination in the middle of the day at a golf course or what he was doing in Los Angeles in the first place. The important thing is that every night when she goes to sleep his sword floats out of the closet (or, for some reason, the arcade game she keeps in her apartment) and she sneaks out to kill more cops.
Eventually she begins a romantic relationship with a different police officer, who is exceptionally hairy and invested in helping her solve the mystery of why she keeps waking up with bruises. However, nothing seems to work. When James Hong (in an hilarious cameo) hypnotizes her, she just spins around like a bicycle wheel and throws him against the wall with telekinesis. When she angrily and awkwardly tries to dance the spirit out of her, the sentient sword just pops out of her closet and cuts her stereo in half.
Meanwhile, we’re introduced to a good ninja (Kosugi) who is also on the case and able to lend a hand in the final showdown. It’s fortunate that he shows up because the only attempt at a “rule” the movie maintains is that “Only a ninja can destroy a ninja”. Luckily, the evil ninja’s spirit escapes Christie and re-inhabits his original body so the good ninja gets to fight the bad guy in zombie form instead of being forced to murder our main character.
Ninja III: The Domination is an 80’s movie through and through; from the synth-heavy soundtrack to the blue-collar protagonist who straps on her leg warmers and teaches an aerobics class on the side. In fact, it borrows so heavily from Ghostbusters, The Exorcist, Flashdance, horror anthology Nightmares, and every other poorly made ninja flick of the 70’s/80’s that the beats get a bit repetitive and predictable.
Every “good” bad movie has at least one payoff scene. To reach cult status there has to be an image or moment that is so head-scratchingly insane even a total slog of a film can instantly become enjoyable. There are some inspired moments in Ninja III: The Domination and it’s hard to top the wild action setpiece during the opening 15 minutes. However, the V8 sex scene is far and away what people will be talking about for generations to come. After barely knowing each other, our heroine invites hairy cop home for some “V8” since she’s out of coffee (I really hope this was paid product placement) and proceeds to seduce him. As she’s straddling his hairy body, she pours V8 all over her chest and they get to the sex-ing. I’ve got nothing to add to that.
Pretty much anything that didn’t pass the test of logic, which happened to be most of the movie. In one scene a large group of men try to rape a woman in broad daylight, completely ignoring the fact that there’s a crowd of people verbally trying to stop them. Hairy cop is in the crowd but like everyone else, he doesn’t make a move. No, it’s up to our ninja-possessed heroine to do something that looks like a cross between Gymkata and Zoolander’s breakdance fighting in order to beat up the guys. As a result, hairy cop publicly arrests her for stopping attempted rape because he wants to protect her from actually getting arrested and charged with assault… or something.
Was It Worth Watching?
Common knowledge dictates that for a movie to be so bad it’s good it needs to at least entertain throughout. Too many movies lose their novelty and fizzle into simple boring ineptitude towards the end. Very few (Troll 2 and The Room being notable exceptions) are able to hold someone’s interest for a full 90-120 minutes… even ironically. Luckily, while the flick isn’t quite gutbustingly hilarious, Ninja III keeps the action beats steady and has at least one mind-boggingly stupid/shocking/weird moment every 15 minutes or so.
To that point, I always say you can tell a lot about a movie from its corresponding drinking game… so let’s take a look at some of the more interesting rules we were playing with:
- A projectile is thrown (usually ninja stars)
- Anything paranormal happens
- Excessive body hair
- A punch or kick is missed by several feet
- A ninja strike draws blood
- A cartoonish sound effect
- A flashback
- Any over-the-top jump or flip
That being said, it almost doesn’t matter how entertaining the movie was since the experience of attending a screening with Wasted Cinema was definitely worth it alone. The assemblage in the bar was energetic and in good spirits. The movie played to a packed room in a downstairs area and everyone seemed to be having a ball drinking, tweeting, and laughing their heads off. Even if you’re not in New York, you should be regularly doing something like it with a case of beer and some like-minded buddies.
Written By Zak Attack
Zak has been an avid movie fan since his mom made him cover his eyes before the “icicle stabbing” when they rented Die Hard 2 in 2nd grade. As a consolation, in 6th grade he got straight A’s so she gave him the entire Die Hard trilogy on VHS. The rest is history.
All images courtesy of The Cannon Group.