Monday, March 29, 2010

Not so secret Ninja Fact: This movie sucks

Ninja Phantom Heroes (aka "Ninja Empire") (1987)
Starring: Glen Carson, George Dickson, Bruce Lambert, Dinny Yip, and Christine Wells
Director: Bruce Lambert (aka Godfrey Ho (?))
Rating: One of Ten Stars

A Hong Kong crime syndicate and an Evil Ninja Cult become embroiled in a turf war over who gets to sell illegal arms to the Arabs. A Good Ninja (Carson) and his homely girl sidekick (Wells), in the employ of the CIA, are tasked with putting a stop to all the arms-dealing shenanigans. Or something like that.

"Ninja Phantom Heroes" is a bewilderingly incoherent movie that's available under several titles, including "Ninja Empire", which is rather confusing, because the director of this film has made another movie that's ALSO titled "Ninja Empire". Still, it's not as confusing as this movie, which, near as I can tell, is two--perhaps even three-- separate films mashed together.

One film is a third-rate Hong Kong gangster movie/love story that is full of entirely too many characters and is brain-crushingly dull, except for a cool car vs. motorcycle chase that culminates in, of all things, a knife fight. (That action scene is way too cool to be part of the gangster/love drama, so I'm thinking it might not be from the same movie.

The second one is a very silly bit of filmmaking where two American Ninjas, once good friends but now deadly enemies, are heading toward a final showdown. And, boy, what a showdown that turns out to be! It's one of the absolutely lamest climaxes of ANY film ever unleashed upon an unsuspecting world.

(I think that if Ninjas truly were in the habit of flipping out and killing people, they would kill Bruce Lambert for exploiting their secret and sinister ways in such a crappy movie.

If trimmed to somewhere around 45 minutes, and viewed while drunk and with friends riffing in an MST3000 style, "Ninja Phantom Heroes" might be bearable. As it is, you should avoid it at all costs. I think my IQ dropped at least ten points as I watched the film, and I think I may have lost 2 more points while writing this review.


  1. There's dozens upon dozens of these movies, Steve. Godfrey Ho is guilty of a lot of them. They're all mix and match movies. They would take one or two unfinished, unreleased film(s) and shoot about ten minutes or so of original footage featuring the "ninjas" of the title and then patch them together.

    Producer, Tomas Tang did his series of these movie which were even worse, if you can believe that. Still, those were often more fun to watch for their unprecedented stupidity.

  2. Yep. Ho made so many, in fact, that he lost count... especially since a few of them recycle the recycled footage.

  3. I owned a few of these on VHS mainly because the box art was so stunning. A shame the movies never could have been as good.

    There's one out there that's an absolute laugh riot called NINJA: AMERICAN WARRIOR. Hilarious stuff, that one.

  4. Yeah, the next couple of Godfrey Ho movies I have in the pipeline will actually be illustrated with their poster art. And you're right... it's far better than the movies it illustrates.

    Then again, that's how you sell a crappy movie to an unsuspecting public.