Zombie VS Ninja AKA Zombie Rivals (1989) [REVIEW] | Coffin Ho

You know i don’t even need an excuse to review these old Godfrey Ho movies aside from the fact i just love to do so. But its still (technically) the spookie-ookie season, so you better believe i have some properly themed (or more spuriously-connected) reviews of garbage from the nearly infinite pile of Godfrey Ho 80s output, and we already reviewed the infamous Robo Vampire, so let’s indulge.

I’m gonna just call it Zombie VS Ninja, since it’s original title and the one it’s known as mostly, though in my UK DVD release by Vengeance Video it was retitled as Zombie Rivals on the box, Zombie Rivals: The Super Ninja Master on the disc, and “Zodiac America – The Super Master” in the actual film, which is the usual transfer from VHS, with 3 extra minutes of black nothing at the end, just so the film can technically reach 90 minutes. As usual for these.

So, we already start with some strong “Ho-isms”, not bad, and this one of the few Pierre Kirby feature entries in Filmarts/IDF catalogue, so we start off on the right foot.

But sadly this one it’s kinda disappointing, even the magical Pierre Kirby spouting the classic line “the dragon fire burns hot” it’s not enough to spice up this surprisingly lackluster brew, as the colored ninja inserts (though “Film A” does happen to have some actual ninja/assassin clad in the expected black robe, just a coincidence) happen to be very few and brief.

It’s not just this being one of the ninja flicks light on original “pink caucasian ninjas” footage, it’s that the main movie it’s just kinda bad but not entertaining because of it, and its even worse as the repurposed movie it’s a Korean kung fu comedy from 1983, “Sohwaseong janguisa” (The Undertaker in Sohwa Province) , one heavy on old timey slapstick too, about a buck toothed undertaker that takes in a young man and teaches him kung fu, so he can take revenge for his father’s death at the hand of some thieves.

The undertaker it’s also a master in necromancy, as he’s able to summon jiangshi or create new ones with the expected talismans and rites, an ability he use to train his newfound disciple.

I’m fairly sure this was – more or less – the original plot too, with the added “cut n paste caucasian ninjas” now in cohoots with the thieves and the corrupt land magistrate that killed the young man’s (redubbed “Ethan”) father to steal a lot of gold meant to pay taxes. And the editing having Pierre Kirby – as the good ninja master Dragon – talk to the bucktooth undertaker into training Ethan, the usual bullshit we’ve seen and discussed before when talking about this brand of ninjaxploitation.

Nothing new and the way its edited (supported by very little “nin ja” action) at least makes the plot feasible to follow, you won’t get lost or wonder why exactly we jumped from a scene to another, but the problem is that i would rather have more of the “colored ninja” inserts and its hilarious dialogue, as “Film A” it’s silly, but it’s not that fun, despite having absurd comedy scenes with Ethan just carrying around coffins on his back (like’s he working on his Gungrave cosplay)… it’s simply a cheesy, surprisingly forgettable kung fu comedy heavy on mostly decrepit slapstick.

Not the worse in terms of comedy, to be honest, but it didn’t do much for me, at all.

But you wanna know about the zombies, i know you do.

There are no zombie ninjas, FIY, nor the ninjas actually fight the “zombies”, and i use quotes because despite the undertaker being able to summon – and fight – proper jiangshi in the opening scenes, these are not the actual zombies he makes “Ethan” fight, but instead actors with corpse make-up just acting and fighting in a more robotic fashion, which… sound about right, honestly.

Overall, Zombie VS Ninja a watchable but kinda dull and disappointing “cut n paste” ninja entry. Pity.



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