Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Diamond Ninja Force (1988) [copyright 1986]

... aka: Ghost Ninja(s)
... aka: Justice Ninjas
... aka: L'enfer des ninjas (Hell Ninjas)
... aka: Ninja Boxing Force
... aka: Ninja Kuvveti (Ninja Force)
... aka: Ninja Mission
... aka: Ninja Warriors

Directed by:
Godfrey Ho

Another of Godfrey Ho's cut-and-paste jobs for Joseph Lai's IFD Films and Arts company, this takes a preexisting Taiwanese Poltergeist knock-off and adds a new ninja story line to that, creating a horribly-edited and dubbed clusterfuck of utter confusion, though this one is slightly more coherent than many other Ho movies I've seen. The newly-added footage centers around Gordon (Richard Harrison), an incognito ninja master vacationing in Hong Kong with his wife Lori (Harrison's real-life wife Maria Francesca). Gordon is part of an elite group of fighters called the Diamond Ninja Force and has inherited the powers of the "Golden Ninja Warrior" that a group of bad guys want and will kill to get. A ninja assassin shows up at Gordon's home, makes goldfish leap from the bowl and then steps on one of them (?!) and then chain whips and murders Lori. Gordon vows to avenge her death, while the group of bad guys - led by Kogan ("Donald Kong" / Tao Chiang) - are intent on reviving the "Black Ninja Clan;" who were all killed off by the good Diamond Ninjas a century earlier.

Meanwhile, this keeps cutting back to the crazy (and trashy) Taiwanese footage and they do their best to try to meld the two plots together. A construction crew unearth a bunch of human remains in an unmarked mass grave. Billionaire real estate tycoon Vernon Wong, owner of Wong Properties Limited, pays them off to shut up about it and keep building. He's later given a fatal heart attack after a ghostly encounter in his limo. Soon after, Vernon's daughter Fanny ("Yolanda Chang") arrives in town from America with her architect husband George ("Curtis Yao") and bratty young son Bobo (yes, Bobo... and he's hilariously dubbed by an adult female) to take up where her dad left off. They move into Vernon's seaside mansion and face a curse and several ghosts due to her father's unethical activities.

The new English dub and added footage makes the discovered remains those of the Black Ninjas and the bad guys intent on getting Fanny's land so they can revive the fallen warriors. To do so, Kogan pays a sorceress named Ghost Ninja three million dollars to unleash her "devil magic" and make the home haunted so they'll cave in and sell. Fanny keeps seeing a black cat and several female ghosts clad in white, finds a severed living head in a laundry basket and has visions of frogs, snakes and mice. Flowers wilt in a matter of seconds, the image of an old woman appears in a mirror, kitchen utensils start flying around and her bath is spoiled when a zombie hand clamps down on her shoulder. During one scene, Fanny and George have sex while a horny young female ghost watches, strips and caresses her breasts. The ghost girl later decides to step in and help out when the the semi-frigid wife refuses to put out for her hubby.

This Garfield phone featured in numerous Ho movies has a cult following all its own.

In between all that, Ninja Master Gordon slaps on a bright red ninja suit and heavy eyeliner and takes out each of Kogan's (mostly Caucasian) henchmen; killing them off in scenes utilizing a samurai sword, a kama, chains and throwing stars. Unfortunately, all of these scenes are over in a matter of seconds before they even threaten to become exciting and it's mostly just a bunch of guys posing with their various weapons. The only battle that's given much choreography is the climactic battle between Gordon and Kogan and even that isn't much.

I tried to uncover the identity of the original Taiwanese film but was unable to. It may have either been unfinished or unreleased - either that or just released in Taiwan and nowhere else -  as there is no evidence of an existing film from the early 80s with a similar plot featuring the same actors. The two known cast members in the original film are Dan Yang, who plays a goofball named Firecracker who gets scared off by ghosts and maggots pouring out of a bathtub faucet, and Yee Yuen (billed as "Yick Yuen" and listed over on IMDb as "Yi Yuen") as an exorcist named Magic Chan. Seeing how it borrows the 'haunted house on a burial mound' idea from Poltergeist and the copyright for Diamond is 1986, the original film had to have been shot some time between 1982 and 1985. Oh, and did I mention this film was issued on home video under about a gazillion different titles, such as...

The American VHS release came courtesy of Trans World Entertainment, who released several other Ho films. Videoasia then released it on DVD (a shoddy VHS transfer as per their usual) under the title Ghost Ninja (well, actually it says Ghost Ninjas on the box) on their set "Tales of Voodoo: Volume 2." The Videoasia release also comes with the Indonesian film Primitives (1980); which rips off Italian jungle cannibal films.



CavedogRob said...

I've a few of Ho's "smash up" jobs.
This looks a little crazier than usual though!

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

I have reviews for 'Devil Dynamite' and 'Robo Vampire' coming up soon. All of them are insanely bad!

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