Ninja III: The Domination (1984)
Director: Schmulik “Sam” Fistenberg
Cast: Sho Kosugi, Lucinda Dickey, Jordan Bennett, David Chung, James Hong
First things first, let’s start by saying that Ninja III: The Domination (1984) was directed by Schmulik “Sam” Fistenberg, the same guy who directed Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo (1984). I guess that should be enough to let you know the kind of nutty film you can expect with Ninja III: The Domination (1984). Ninja III…okay, let’s start by that, Cannon Films never produced a film called Ninja, or Ninja II, so why the hell is there a Ninja III: The Domination (1984)? My best guess is that this is a spiritual follow up to Enter the Ninja (1981) and Revenge of the Ninja (1983). Ninja III: The Domination (1984) can’t even be called a sequel, because none of these films are connected to one another, they don’t have a story line that unites them save for the fact that they are all about Ninjas and that they all starred Sho Kosugi in one form or another, albeit in different roles in each film. I remember when all these movies were being released; Ninjas were so cool back then. They certainly captured my imagination as a kid, I was always drawing them. And it’s only now that I realize just how much these movies influenced me as a kid! Back then it was all about American Ninja (1985) and Gymkata (1985). I was obsessed with ninja weapons and the whole mystical side of the whole ninja thing. Basically, back when I was around ten, I was ninja crazy. Back then these movies didn’t feel funny, because I was just a kid, but now that I’m all grown, these movies are slap to the knee hilarious!
The premise for Ninja III: The Domination is that this ninja is out on the prowl killing golf players. Why, for what reason? Who the hell knows, the movie just starts out like that, with this ninja invading a golf field filled with rich old dudes playing golf. My guess is we’re supposed to presume that these are evil rich old dudes, because why else would a ninja have to come out of the blue to massacre them right? So anyways, the deal is someone ends up calling the cops and every cop and their mother shows up to kill this one ninja. In spite of having shot him with every conceivable gun, from every conceivable angle (without a drop of blood showing I might add) the ninja manages to escape them. Enter a woman named Christie; she works fixing telephone lines all by herself in the middle of nowhere. Suddenly, she stumbles upon the moribund ninja, who works some kind of ninja magic on Christie which allows him to posses her. Now, having possessed this new female body, the ninja can avenge his death from beyond the grave. It’s cop killing time!
This movie is crazy from the get go, frame one, scene one. The nuttiness starts when you see the Cannon Films logo light up the screen. If you don’t know anything about Cannon Films, allow me to fill you in. Cannon Films was a film production company responsible for some of the craziest films from the 80’s and by crazy I mean totally bat shit insane type of films. If you’re feeling frisky and want to explore the type of crazy movies these guys used to produce, then go and watch Breakin’ (1984) or Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo (1985) and if those movies aren’t crazy enough for you then watch Invasion U.S.A. (1985). If you find these films fascinating and alluring because of their insanity, then do yourself a favor and watch the excellent documentary on the crazy history behind this film studio called Electric Boogaloo: The Wild and Untold Story of Cannon Films (2014). In a nutshell, these two guys from Israel, Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus came to the U.S. to make movies and money. The films the produced were made with meager budgets and tight shooting schedules. Most of these films were shot in a couple of weeks. Hell, sometimes the poster was made before the film itself! Sometimes the distribution rights were sold before the movies were even made! Ah, those were the glory days of video clubs! Back then, independent film studios like these made movies because they knew they’d make their money back on video. The results of this modus operandi were cheap and quick movies, where the filmmakers really didn’t have the time to iron out the details of a script; they didn’t really have any time to make sense of the story. Basically, they shot the film before realizing it didn’t make an iota of sense. This is the reason why these movies are so crazy. I have to say I love these movies exactly the way they are. They are just fun to watch, they put a smile on my face every time.
How crazy is this movie? Let me count the ways. First off, the story takes place somewhere in Arizona (that’s where they shot it) yet for some unexplained reason there’s an ancient Chinese temple in the middle of the dessert with Shaolin Monks and everything! What? Then for some unexplained reason, the evil ninja goes into a cave to find a stash of magical ninja weapons hidden inside of a glowing rock. What the hell was that all about? I don’t know, but there they were, swords, katanas and ninja stars inside of a rock that glowed with purple light! Then we have Christie, the girl who gets possessed by the ninja. She’s sort of a cheap knock off of Jennifer Beals in Flashdance (1983). Why do I say this? Well, she not only fixes telephone lines, she’s also an aerobics instructor! This element of course amps up the 80’s vibe to eleven! Suddenly we’re thrown right in the middle of an aerobics class filled with people dressed in head bands and leg warmers, all to the tune of the cheesiest rock soundtrack this side of David Powell! How eighties is this movie? Well, Christie has her own arcade machine in her apartment that’s how eighties! By the way at one point the arcade machine becomes possessed by the spirit of the ninja and starts shooting laser beams that hypnotize Christie! Like I said, bat shit insane.
"I also work part time as a Ninja!"
Not convinced yet? Well, this movie is the equivalent of mixing The Exorcist (1973) with ninjas and Chinese mysticism. There’s this one majestic sequence in which Christie goes to a Chinese exorcist, who by the way is played by James Hong. Yup, that James Hong! He who played ‘Lo Pan’ in Big Trouble in Little China (1986)! So anyways, after they tie Christie up, suddenly the ninja inside of her awakens and makes her go all Linda Blair on us; you got to see it to believe it people! Essentially, this movie is the classic “so bad it’s good” film. Scratch that, it’s the quintessential so bad it’s good film. What I’m talking about here folks is a film that is so bad you won’t believe your eyes. Ever seen a movie like that? I’ve seen tons of them, but for your own benefit my dear readers, if you ever want to have a fantastic night watching bad movies like this one, then I also recommend you check out Blood Diner (1987), Troll 2 (1990) and Creatures from the Abyss (1994). My god, those films will melt your face right off! Ninja III: The Domination (1984) is on a whole other level, sure it’s bad, but honestly, you won’t be able to stop watching. It’s addictive. Cannon Films, I salute you guys, you never cease to amaze me.
Rating: 3 out of 5