Enter the Ninja (Menahem Golan, 1981)

posted in: Duane, Review | 0
After passing a grueling test of skill and being inducted into a clan of ninjas, a military vet travels to Manila to aid his long-time war buddy on his coconut plantation. When a crime lord starts to intimidate the locals as a way to leverage the owner to sell the land, he finds he must resort to his ninja training to battle the ruffians.COSDS-Enter-the-Ninja00002
Every time I see this I can’t believe it’s Franco Nero (Django, Hitch-Hike) as the main round-eye-turned-ninja hero. Don’t get me wrong, Nero has that brawny presence in everything he does (shit, his moustache alone can’t even be concealed by his ninja mask – he’s THAT manly!), but as a fucking ninja? It seems like a bit of a stretch but he manages to pull it off pretty well for the most part, the action-laden scenes are wisely performed by someone with some semblance of a martial arts background at least. As if to illustrate this point in one awkward moment, Nero is standing outside the plantation house topless, practicing with a pair of nunchuks. Now I say “practicing”, but what he’s really doing is stiffly moving them from side to side in an uncomfortable attempt to appear confident with the weapon – it’s not very convincing at all.
Aside from that the action is all there and pretty standard for an 80s American ninja film; Shô Kosugi (Revenge of the Ninja, Ninja III: The Domination), apparent go-to for all things ninja-y is of course involved here as the evil Hasegawa, who resents the round-eye’s induction into his little club. Franco Nero gets to stomp around town kicking the snot out of the local thugs and bang his buddy’s wife Maryanne (Susan George [Straw Dogs, Die Screaming Marianne]) until he manages to attract the attention of the local kingpin, Venarius (Christopher George [City of the Living Dead, The Exterminator]). Venarius takes exception to the meddling in his disreputable affairs and decides he wants his own ninja (in an awesome bit of dialogue that has to be seen to be appreciated) and then proceeds to fuck shit up for the plantation in general. As you’ve probably guessed this all culminates into a ninja vs. ninja battle to cap off the film.
Enter the Ninja starts off with plenty of ninja action and then it just kind of fizzles out until the last third of the film when the evil ninja comes and starts bumping people off in a variety of ninja ways. Being the first in the trilogy, this film sets the ninja guidelines in which the next two entries conform to. Those being but not limited to:
  1.  ALWAYS show the throwing star before you use it. This imbues the projectile with magical shining powers of HATE and will guide it to its target with pinpoint accuracy and devastation.
  2. Once you use a ninja weapon, it’s soiled and therefore cannot be used again (except for the main ninja sword, which is perfectly acceptable in its reuse).
  3. Instead of dodging an attack like a normal person, the ninja MUST do an awkward back flip or cartwheel out of harm’s way. This realigns the chi of the universe and confuses your opponent.
  4.  Caltrops, while typically being used to hobble an opponent by piercing the feet, always end up in your opponent’s face with ghastly results.

Adhere to these four commandments and you will defeat your opponents in the most entertaining way possible. The blood flows freely here under both ninjas’ expert butchery and makes for some very satisfying action sequences as one wonders just what manner of cruel death will be inflicted on the next poor sod who manages to capture their attention. The film contains no T&A to speak of, but there is a really awesome (and awkward) scene where Franco Nero has to grab Susan George from behind and restrain her and he unintentionally ends up with handfuls of titties in the process!
Enter the Ninja isn’t as fun as its two “sequels” by any stretch, but the amusement here comes more from the star power involved rather than the action sequences which are admittedly sparse compared to the other two films. It also takes itself far more seriously than the aforementioned movies and consequently suffers as a result. We want awesome ninja action! Less talk, more shuriken!COSDS-Enter-the-Ninja00030
Christopher George is delightfully campy as the crime boss and really chews the scenery whenever he’s on screen (sadly this was one of his last projects, having succumbed to a heart ailment in 1983 from a cardiac contusion he sustained while filming The Rat Patrol), and Franco Nero is always awesome (DUH). Susan George makes for some odd eye candy (she’s so…. British) and Alex Courtney (Looking for Mr. Goodbar) swaggers about as the drunken army buddy with the remarkable afro who’s completely given up on life; the focus was definitely utilizing the talent involved a lot more than just stringing together a bunch of action sequences featuring acrobats in pajamas.
Enter the Ninja is a great place to start if one is just getting into ninja action films; and will certainly sate one’s desire for ninjas, guns, accidental titty grabbing, weird weapons you can’t pronounce, and more testosterone than a monster truck rally. Plus it’s all honorable and shit at the end. Learn something.
 Official COSDS Nunspank Rating:
It’s time for some S.E.X.
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Duane co-founded The Church of Splatter-Day Saints in 2005. When not immersed in film he's enjoying good whiskey, smoking meat in the backyard or thinking about sluts. He makes a damn fine habanero fire sauce.

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