AKA: Ninjutsu, Ninja Kung Fu
Director: Philip Kwok
Writer: Huang Sheng
Producer: Pao Hsueh-Li
Cast: Ti Lung, Lu Feng, Philip Kwok, Yasuaki Kurata, Chiang Sheng, Cheung Paang, Wong Yeuk Ping, July Chu Lai, Han Yu, Ma Chin Ku, Cheung Chung Kwai, Cho Boon Feng, Mau Ging Shun, Ma Chin-Ku, Chan Sam-Lam, Han Yu
Running Time: 92 min.
Philip Kwok (aka Guo Juei, aka Kuo Choi) pulls triple duty as director, actor, and martial arts choreographer in this better-than-average chop socky produced by “Venoms” daddy Chang Cheh. General Chi (Ti Lung) and his troops are making life difficult for the Japanese bandits terrorizing the countryside, so their boss (Yasuaki Kurata) tries to have him assassinated. And who better to assassinate someone constantly surrounded by armed guards than a stealthy, sneaky team of ninjas clad in garishly colored costumes? Green, blue, yellow…when these ninjas are clustered together, they look like a handful of Lucky Charms marshmallows.
General Chi’s son goes off to find an old hermit who has spent time in Japan and knows some of the ninjas’ tricks. After receiving the young man he reveals to him that he taught three different styles of fighting to three different disciples who never met one another…an element lifted from “Five Deadly Venoms”, presumably with Chang Cheh’s blessing. The first possesses extraordinary jumping and climbing abilities, the second is a master blacksmith and sword fighter, and the third specializes in unarmed combat and sleight of hand.
Young Master Chi sets out to recruit these men and arranges jobs for them in his father’s home so they can expose and foil any assassination attempts made. And that they do; the movie eventually becomes a series of battles against the evil ninjas until they and their leader are put down for good. Oh, there’s plot development here and there, but Kwok doesn’t allow the film to coast in first gear for very long.
The narrative is a little bit disjointed at times, and there’s a very thin subplot about a female would-be assassin that seems to have been added merely to increase the film’s length. But what the hell, at least we got an OK fight scene out of it. Most of the others are better, though. The talent for choreography that has served Kwok in good stead for quite a few years is displayed well here. Ninja in the Deadly Trap is his one and only directorial effort; a pity, but at least he can say he never directed a bad movie.
Numskull’s Rating: 7/10