Ninja Destroyer (1986) Review

"Ninja Destroyer" VHS Cover

"Ninja Destroyer" VHS Cover

Director: Godfrey Ho
Producer: Joseph Lai
Cast: Stuart Smith, Bruce Barron, Richard Berman, Timothy Nugent, Sorapong Chatri, Na Yen Na, Pedros Ernyes, Rick Jenkins, Roger Seller, Richard Chit, Peter Ramwa, Surian Suryoog, Luck Apichart, Anne Aswatep, Jack Wong
Running Time: 80 min.

By Joe909

Question: When is a Hong Kong action film not really a Hong Kong action film? Answer: When a pair of gwailo actors shoot an unrelated ninja movie and inject it into the film. As it stands, the movie itself was apparently filmed in 1970 by Godfrey Ho; I’m not sure what it was originally named, but I’m sure it wasn’t Ninja Destroyer, as there are no ninjas in it. Ho’s movie isn’t anything special: a dull action film that deals with drug running during the Vietnam war. There’s a little kung-fu in the movie, and even some nudity, which makes me believe that it might not have even been an HK production. Ho did a bunch of films with Dragon Lee, such as Champ Against Champ, so who knows where this thing was made.

So who are the gwailo? Their names are Stuart Smith and Bruce Baron, and they seem to be either Australian or New Zealanders. Who knows, maybe they’re American. But anyway, they’re such pricks that in the opening credits, they don’t even bother crediting any other actor in the movie, other than themselves. Only director Ho and producer Lai are credited, and then these two gwailo give themselves top billing. That’s it for the opening credits.

Neither Smith nor Baron are convincing as superhuman ninja: one (Smith?) has a moustache and looks harmless, and the other (Baron?) is pissed off throughout the movie and has the habit of making his entire face move when he talks. The names these goons have chosen for their characters should sum up how creative they are: Byron and Michael. I mean, who’s going to be afraid of a ninja named Byron?

The way they integrate themselves into the film is great, because it’s so terribly done. At first you don’t even suspect anything’s going on, until you realize that you never see these two guys and the Chinese actors on-screen together. There’s some great stuff towards the middle where there will be shots of some of the Chinese actors talking to someone off camera, then it will cut to one of the gwailo, obviously in an ENTIRELY different location, talking back to the Chinese actors. Adding that the film stocks are obviously different, and the fact that it just doesn’t look right, really makes this movie a joy to behold.

The two gwailo toss a couple ninja fights into the film, but each of them are over in about 5 seconds. Plus they seem to have only had 2 costumes at their disposal: one white (for good guy Byron), and one red, for whomever he happens to be fighting. The last fight, between the two gwailo, is pretty funny, as they jump around and make weapons like crossbows materialize out of thin air. They also have a bland verbal confrontation before their final fight, in which one accuses the other of being a Rambo. At least this gives us an idea of when these guys filmed their half of the movie, around 1986 or so, but they seem to have forgotten that not many people during Vietnam would have known who the hell Rambo is.

But the absolute most priceless image in this film is when the gwailo bad guy Michael is talking to some of his henchmen: he’s dressed in his red ninja outfit, and he’s also wearing one of those “ninja” headbands, the kind you’d see in martial arts magazines in the ’80s, letting us know he’s 100% bad-ass! Pure hilarity!

Joe909’s Rating: 1/10 (for the movie itself, but the shit with the fake ninjas is beyond scoring)

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