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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Godfrey Ho Appreciation Month - Full Metal Ninja (1989)

Cartoon by Christopher McElfresh
Full Metal Ninja
(1989; IDF Films and Arts)

In one of Godfrey Ho’s later spliced works, we see a lot of great imagery.  There’s an evil military leader who wears a Santa cap in one scene, a completely irrelevant white guy in a hot pink ninja costume and Chinese Eegah!  Along the way we get a strange yet surprisingly entertaining piece of cinema.  This is Full Metal Ninja!

Full Metal Ninja is just another one of the strangely-titled ninja films in Ho’s repertoire, this time featuring a Zatoichi-esque swordsman named Eagle who travels a lonely road to save his family that was taken from him by an evil warlord named Lo.  This is not, however, very well explained but this is par for the course with Ho’s narratives.  They are rarely comprehensible and are, more-often-then-not, damn near unintelligible.  

Along the road, Eagle faces many foes, most are fights he engages to help another person, other times they are in retaliation of a previous encounter.  At one point, Eagle comes to the aid of a young woman who would become an important point of contention for the hero, after she invites him into her home for rest.  However, when her father seemingly inexplicably attacks him, she vows vengeance.  After a short time, she becomes entirely irrelevant to the story.

About seven minutes of additional footage was added after the fact starring Ho and Lai’s perennial caucasian action hero, Pierre Kirby.  Kirby’s scenes do nothing but add a little more violence to the movie and ultimately serve no purpose, as the added scenes in Ho’s movies rarely do.  Still, we do see some funny action and we also get a nice taste of the goofy ninja costumes Ho uses in many of his films.  Thus, there are a few laughs to be had at these scenes’ expense.  
Pierre Kirby from Full Metal Ninja,
in all of his hot pink glory!

The fight choreography in Full Metal Ninja, as is the case with most of Ho’s films, ranges from good to bleh.  To Ho’s credit, he is actually able to construct a good scene from time to time, and his movies, as silly as they often are, do occasionally have some good action.  Some of the fights in Full Metal Ninja aren’t bad, and really do deserve some recognition as entertaining pieces of martial arts action.  Some of the cut-in fights are pretty fun too, like when we see Pierre Kirby rip off Raiders with the gun to the swordsman’s gut and when we see him kick down a freaking tree in an attempt to crush his attackers.

All-in-all, Full Metal Ninja is a blast, and while it isn’t good, not by a long shot, bad movie fans and fans of kung fu movies in general will find quite a bit to like about it.  The principle plot, while cliched and paper-thin, isn’t bad and the hero, Eagle is pretty badass, though, you have seen this very same character played better, in far-superior films.  Give this one a watch if you want to have a few laughs and to quench your thirst for fun kung fu action.

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