|Death Code: Ninja (1987; IDF)|
Death Code: Ninja is a revenge flick mixed in with a spy flick mixed in with a ninja flick. It's a lot like peanut butter and jelly and pepperoni; one thing just doesn't belong. Since this is a Godfrey Ho film, you have to have ninjas, weather they are actually relevant to what's going on or not. The meat of the story involves an agent returning home to his family after a long absence. Everything seems to be going well for the Ko's until their son is abducted by the hero's former colleagues. When Ko moves in to face them, he is murdered and this leaves his wife to avenge her family. From here this portion of the movie is a lot like Kill Bill, with a lone female doing everything she can to take out the men who are responsible for her grief.
The spliced-in sections of the movie star one of Godfrey Ho's recurring actors, Mike Abbott, this time as a villainous gang leader who is dealing with the Triads to sell a map that contains the locations of key military installations in Asia. The film makes several references to "Star Wars", which was what Ronald Reagan dubbed a strategic missile defense system in a speech. This system was not only technologically unfeasible at the time, but fiscally and diplomatically as well. It did fool some folks though, just not the people it was intended to. This obvious bluff made a special guest appearance in this movie referring to the map as the "Star Wars Map", which would disclose a way around U.S. aerial defenses.
This movie is actually pretty good for Ho. No, I'm serious. I like the premise, especially the B-plot revolving around the distraught and bitter widow seeking revenge. I like how we see her character evolve through the movie. She has a dark side, and it comes out strong near the end of the film. The A-plot, which was the spliced-in portions with Abbott are really just typical Godfrey Ho shtick. Brightly-colored ninjas (kind of defeats the purpose) flipping around and fighting. The dialogue scenes are just off mainly because Mike Abbott is just so damn goofy looking.
I know that isn't fair, and there have been many actors who weren't exactly Elvis Presley who were good because they were strong performers (Edward G. Robinson, Peter Lorre and Spencer Tracy just to name a few). Abbott just doesn't cut it, I'm sorry. He just may be the single least-tolerable recurring actor that worked under Godfrey Ho. He's just... distracting. Looking at him, I can only recall images of the Beastie Boys Sabotage music video, in which Mike D, Ad-Rock and MCA are sporting 70's hair, thick porn-staches and shades, acting out a cliche'd cop show (that video is epic, btw!). Still, the way he carries himself in all of these films is pretty hilarious, and that helps with the tolerance level a little. I love it when he shows up because he's just so damn out of place.
All-in-all, however, Death Code: Ninja is a good watch. No. Seriously. Occasional goofiness and typical Ho ineptitude aside, this is one of his better movies. The action is well done, the revenge story is engaging and there are actually scenes of real tension here. I would even go as far to say that I... like... this... movie... That's always hard for me to say. (I'm a film buff, I'm supposed to hate everything). But nay, I say! I enjoyed Death Code: Ninja. It may seem a little off if you aren't used to Godfrey Ho's quirks, but this just may be one of his best pictures, judging from a quality standpoint. This one does lack a lot of the laughs you may get from his more dopey endeavors like Ninja Terminator, but it is definitely a decent 80's Kung-Fu flick.