Ninja Phantom Heroes USA AKA Ninja Empire (1987) [REVIEW] | To Survive Ninja, You Gotta Become Ninja

OK, ok, this is really the last one for this november!

Where will the magic of carthwheeling ninjas takes us today? Under which fake names will we have to see Godfrey Ho and crew credited? IDF Film and Arts or Filmark International?

But nowhere else that inside a prison labor camp…at least the new footage does, alongside crediting Bruce Lambert as director and Duncean Bauer as writer (who are you trying to kid, Godfrey Ho?).

Also, yes, this under their “Filmark International” company name, and it happens to also be one of theirs non-Richard Harrison ninja films, instead having Danny Raisenbeck (as usual billed as Joff Houston), and being the (uncredited) film debut of Sophia Crawford, later famous for her stuntwork on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Power Rangers and Kung Fu – The Legend Continues.

You can also find this on Youtube, also uploaded by “The Wu Tang Collection”, their copy having the “Ninja, Phantom Heroes USA” title and japanese subs. A classic, as we learned.

As i said before, this one has a prologue made of original footage about a soldier who deserted or something, got sent to a labor camp for it, and it’s given a second chance, so he’s tasked to fight Morris and his ninja camp that smuggles weapon in the Middle East….. who’s Morris?

No idea, the movie didn’t establish shit yet but just throws exposition that barely means anything and names of character i don’t know, not that anyone checked the script once written, since the main guys says he’s not a ninja… but then out of the blue he kung fu fights and then “ninja transform”.

A fight where you don’t still have context for what color suit the main protagonist and the main antagonist have respectively, contributing to absolute narrative chaos. Regardless, the main gist is that the bad ninjas have been dealing weapons to russian and arabs (as in, one actor in “Film A” posing as an incredibly unconving arab big shot), so after making this one about the Vietnam War… for no real reason, they sen dthe ex-deserter/prisoner to deal with them, helped by a girl that would make sense to be the ninja who tutors the main guy, but nope, she is just an informer.

Guess they didn’t have an extra pink or gold jump suit that day.

The evil ninja obviously being involved somewhat with a criminal organization, easy to do when the bad guys live in stock footage from the 1983’s Hong Kong movie “Di yi ba jyao yi”, also known as “Struggle For Leader”, another criminal drama about triads, this one also being fairly average, with a plot involving three criminal gangs made to sabotage each other and start a triad war, all made absolutely impossible to follow due to the editing.

On upside it’s kinda better this way as the triad drama wasn’t interesting enough to care one bit, and there are a good amount of action scenes, between bike chases, firefights and brawls to keep the entertaiment value slightly alive, even if you don’t have any clue of what or why exactly it’s happening, nor do you really care to piece it together, too much effort for naught.

Especially since this is a movie that out of the blue goes to the CIA guys in “Film B”… watching clips of a wedding massacre shoot out in a projection room, i guess other footage from “Film A” they didn’t know how to integrate into the plot… and so did this shit. Some big brain shit.

While the amount of original footage is the same as usual, the ninja bits are really unevenly distributed, so the main bulk of the ninja clashes is to be found in the final ninja battle, which compensates this by being way longer than usual, and delivering some of the oddball crap you wished for, like the ninja maces turning into pocket toy rocket launchers, the evil ninja (wearing white this time, when his goons wear black) throwing pizza plates at the good ninja (wearing camo here), throwing a flying bladed ball thing, or the good ninja having the power of the classic bladed umbrella…. that’s also a machine gun. Roberta Cisneros would be proud.

The fact the movie’s last 20-30 minutes have completely off-sync audio makes things even more hilarious, this is classic, the legendary incompetence i search for to get some laughs at.

And yes, it’s not just on Youtube, the uploaded file has this issue, other copies of the movie might not, so do some research if you’re inclined to, but the bottom line is that this is obviously an accident, a goof, not intentional, and funny because of it.

Not so much the finale, with the good ninja winning the fight by killing the evil ninja (a guy with white hair who might or might not have been an ex-comrade of the main guy, the movie can’t estabilish things for shit) but not saving the girl, and the general who gave the traitor/ninja soldier/prisoner the mission founding out he was used too… saying that he quits.

And he quits. Just goes away, the guy at the office desk laughs a bit, THE END.

Seriously, what the fuck was that limp shit of an ending?

Guess they ran out of time before money in this occasion.

Overall, a decent, above average ninja crapfest, entertaining and action packed enought to be “ok” (in the “Ho scale) even without the power of Richard Harrison and his unauthorized footage.



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