The MADman's Nastiest Ninja in Movies
The Octagon was one of Chuck Norris' better flicks, and it had him going up against a ninja cult holding underground death duels. The best fight in the film was a one-on-one duel with the Octagon's champion- a scary, nameless and masked ninja who kept coming and coming until Chuck threw him into a fire. And even then he still jumped out! The guy wasn't the head villain, but he was mean and he hissed. Heh.
Ninja III: The Domination was a pretty corny ninja flick with supernatural flavor starring Sho Kosugi, but it had great ninja action. The main villain was a master ninja who gets killed near the start of the movie (but only after taking down about a dozen cops and getting pumped full of enough lead to cast him a life size statue). Before finally expiring, the ninja transfers his spirit into a young woman who later becomes his vessel for revenge against the cops who offed him. Towards the end of the movie, the ninja returns to his body (!), goes up against Sho (whose wife he killed years ago) and showing powers like mind control over large numbers of people. The guy even causes earthquakes! How's that for deadly?
The Hunted is my favorite movie showing ninja in modern settings. Christopher Lambert stars as Racine, an American exec who, while vacationing in Japan, meets a beautiful woman (Joan Chen) who is actually the woman of a powerful and vindictive Yakuza. When she is killed by a powerful ninja master named Kinjo (John Lone at his most formidable), Racine witnesses the murder and thus becomes The Hunted. The situation escalates as Kinjo isn't alone- he's the head of the Makato- a whole village full of trained, ruthless killers who fear nothing and won't stop at anything to carry out their mission. Racine soon gets help from a modern-day samurai who is fighting an ancient war against Kinjo.
The high points in this flick are a deadly chase on a train, where the Makato board the bullet train after Racine, and start slaughtering everyone in their path to get at their target. The finale is a free-for-all battle between samurai and ninja in an ancient castle. Coolness! This flick really showed off how deadly ninja could be, updated to modern-day Japan.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, well, at least the first movie, was actually pretty cool. The ninja here are The Foot clan (which is, actually, a spoof and a nod to Marvel Comic's The Hand), portrayed as delinquent youths trained and brainwashed by The Shredder. They had cool uniforms and their great numbers made for cool fight scenes with the Turtles. A bit on the funny and cartoony side, but this was nice for the time. And still cooler than the Hand in the Elektra movie.
You Only Live Twice has James Bond teaming up with Ninja. Classic.
The Last Samurai with Tom Cruise features a ninja attack on the rebel samurai village, and it is considered by many as one of the film's best parts. The fighting here is fast, brutal and bloody cool.
In contrast, these films are a disservice to the ninja coolness...
American Ninja. Well, what can I say? ALL these films are crappy, which is probably because a couple of them may have been filmed or produced here in the Philippines. Ninja getting killed off like common thugs in huge numbers, a ninja master with a LAZER and more corny stuff with Michael Dudikoff. Bah.
Three Ninjas. It had Hulk Hogan. Nuff said.
Ninja Kids. OOH! A home-grown title. Actually a fun watch. But still crappy as a ninja movie.
Elektra. From a powerful mystical cult of master killers, we get a boardroom full of suits, two guys who get skewered by Jennifer Garner and later a whole bunch of ninja who are stupid enough to get killed by the oldest trap in the book- the old, "Leave the Gas on and Throw a Candle in as All of the Stupid Ninja Crash in the Room" trick. Sigh.
MAHAHAHAHAHA!!! So where will ninja go next in movies? We'll just have to wait and see. Perhaps when X-Men 3 comes out, it will have Psylocke and have some ninja sidestories. Well, I can dream can't I? Sigh.