|Ninja the Protector (1986)|
This is one of Ho’s more confusing, yet more comically-entertaining outings. Released as Project Ninja Daredevils in 1986 (not to be confused with 1985’s Ninja Project Daredevils), this film was re-titled Ninja the Protector for distribution. The movie is one of dozens of Ho’s that employs the cut-and-paste editing technique, and it is also one of his more famous entries, alongside Ninja Terminator (1985) and Undefeatable (1993).
There is not much that separates Ninja the Protector from Ho’s other outings, but the silly moments make this one worth watching. The plot is more or less irrelevant, as usual, and is barely glossed over in the entirety of the film’s run time, which clocks in at under 70 minutes. Still, for the sake of professionalism, I will do my very best to give an outline of this film’s “story”.
Warren and David are just trying to live normal lives. They do what they can to survive but they share a secret: they are former ninjas. As a crime syndicate specializing in counterfeiting rises, can Warren and David face their shared past in order to move beyond it?
Along with Warren and David’s plot, we have cut-and-paste footage to talk about too! Here we have Godfrey Ho regular Richard Harrison as Ninja Master Gordon Anderson, who is now a high-ranking police official. After two of his cops run across a wounded ninja, one Anderson himself actually bested, they inquire about ninjas to their boss to which Anderson replies “...they’re just a fairy tale.” However, ninjas do exist, and there is a constant battle for power in their underground world.
Warren and David’s past finally catches up to them as events start to unravel their comfortable lives and the ninja empire attempts to clean up the past by assassinating Anderson but their multiple attempts fail. Things become worse after Warren’s girlfriend Judy catches her lover cheating on her with a model, and then attempts suicide. This is followed by Warren being abandoned by both Judy and his brother, David, then framed for murder by one of the criminal masterminds.
The boss intends to trap David by ensuring he is informed of Warren’s murder charge, which he anticipated would motivate him. David storms the gangster’s home and dispatches the charging goons but is eventually overpowered. When the goons pull out a knife at the boss’s orders to kill David, the hero then brandishes a machete but is ultimately shot. The boss takes David out easily. Warren intervenes, seemingly out of nowhere, but is overpowered himself. David then, severely injured from his wound, picks up a pistol and kills Warren’s attacker, but ultimately dies himself.
Back in the new Godfrey Ho footage, Anderson receives a challenge from a rival ninja, one that is impossible to refuse. The challenger is Bruce, the evil ninja overlord, and the ensuing fight begins with the two ninjas engaging each other whilst riding motorcycles and swinging weapons at each pass. As the two warriors begin their fight on foot, we have a short but well-choreographed fight scene between Bruce, who fights dirty, and the honorable Anderson that ends really, really abruptly. One of the highlights of this short scene is when Anderson fires smoke at Bruce from the hilt of his sword.
As you can probably tell, Ninja the Protector does not make a hell of a lot of sense. Like most of Ho’s films, it is all over the place and much of the film’s plot is lost to the forced and sloppy editing that permeates his work. Even with a run time that barely clears and hour, this movie is padded with gratuitous sex and some very awkward ninja posing from Richard Harrison. This padding alone is proof that there was little here to begin with. So, why do I recommend this movie?
Ninja The Protector is an awesome mess. The editing is awful, the camera work is hilariously inept, the acting is off and the dub is comedy gold. This is one of the most riffable movies in Godfrey Ho’s collection, and all of the little “inadequacies” add up to one big successful failure. Sure, it does not work as a ninja thriller, but it does work as a comedy, so, like most movies that are so-bad-they’re-good, Ninja the Protector is an anomalous “good” bad movie. Watch this one for a laugh.