• Ninja III: The Domination (Collector's Edition)



    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: June 12th, 2018.
    Director: Sam Firstenberg
    Cast: Lucinda Dickey, Sho Kosugi, David Chung, Jordan Bennett, James Hong
    Year: 1984
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    The Movie:

    The most insane ninja movie to come out of Cannon’s eighties heyday! The movie begins in Arizona where a Japanese man (David Chung) heads into a cave to transform himself into the Black Ninja! Shortly after, this same assassin heads out to a golf course where he makes short work of an important scientist and his G-men security team. The cops show up and give chase and eventually would seem to have him cornered, until he busts out a smoke bomb and makes his escape. The Black Ninja, however, has been gravely injured – when he runs into a telephone line repairwoman and part time aerobics instructor named Christie (Lucinda Dickey) doing her thing, he somehow possesses her, gives her his sword and from there has the uncanny ability to take her over at will.

    As luck would have it, Christie’s cop boyfriend Billy (Jordan Bennett) was one of the police officers involved in tracking down the Black Ninja, and the spirit of that ninja, now in control of Christie’s hot body, isn’t one to let bygones be bygones. Soon enough, lasers are coming out of video game machines, V8 juice is being used in disturbingly sexy ways, James Hong is trying to give Christie an exorcism and a good guy ninja named Yamada (Sho Kosugi looking pretty dope with an eye patch) makes it his mission to take out the dreaded Black Ninja no matter the cost.

    Combining elements of possession horror pictures like The Exorcist, eighties dance movies like Flashdance and of course the earlier Cannon Films ninja movies, Ninja III: The Domination is, in a word, insane. Once again directed by Sam Firstenberg, it’s a fast-paced picture that gleefully goes for an ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ approach, doing its damndest to exploit as many different popular genres and trends of its day as it can in ninety minutes and doing a damn good job of it. Sex! Lasers! Video Games! Exorcism! James Hong! Dancing! Aerobics! Golf! Cops! Ninjas! Smoke Bombs! Spandex! Hot tubs! All this and more come into play, and of course, what would this one be without the obligatory eighties staple, the synthesizer score? We get that too, and it’s fucking beautiful.

    As far as the cast goes, they’re all giving 100%. Sho Kosugi is pretty great here, zipping about in the shadows a lot and, while he’s a good guy this time around, he’s definitely not to be trifled with. If his eye patch didn’t convince you of that, his skills with a sword certainly will. James Hong is underused, but any time James Hong shows up in a movie, especially one as nuts as this picture, it’s a cause for celebration. Jordan Bennett is hairy but likeable enough but the real star here, and this will come as a surprise to no one, is Lucinda Dickey. 1984 was a busy year for her, as she not only made this movie but also managed to star in Breakin’ and of course, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo (also directed by Firstenberg) where her dancing skills were honestly put to better use than they are in this picture. That said, she’s definitely got her own eighties era foxy thing going on. She looks good, she commits to the role not matter how ridiculous it might be, and she actually handles herself well in the film’s genuinely impressive action sequences.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Ninja III: The Domination gets a Blu-ray refresh from Shout! Factory with a new transfer taken from a “4K Scan From The Original Film Elements.” Framed at 1.85.1 and presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition, the picture quality here is rock solid. Colors look great (lots of garish 80’s colors are on display throughout the movie) and black levels are nice and strong. Detail, depth and texture are stronger than past editions, especially in close-up shots, while the image is free of any obvious noise reduction or edge enhancement. The title is offered up on a 50GB disc and at a strong bit rate, and as such compression artifacts are a non-issue. Skin tones look nice and natural and while the older Blu-ray release looked just fine, this is a nice upgrade.

    Audio chores are handled by an English language DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track. No noticeable differences were noticed during a quick comparison between the older Blu-ray and this new one, but that’s fine – the audio here is nice and clear, offering easily discernable dialogue and really strong score reproduction. The levels are nicely balanced and there aren’t any problems with hiss or distortion to complain about. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.

    Carried over from past editions is an audio commentary from Firstenberg and Lambert. Like the track on the first disc, this is an interesting discussion of the film. They talk about shooting this basically right after Revenge Of The Ninja to cash in on the success of the first two movies and how Cannon wanted something different. Firstenberg talks about how Poltergeist was actually a big inspiration for the film, going with a female lead, how certain specific shots were put together and edited, the complexity of some of the stunts seen on camera, the possession element of the movie and the symbolism of the sword featured in the film. There is, of course, quite a bit more covered here. It’s an active track, an informative track, and quite an enjoyable listen.

    Shout! Factory has also commissioned a host of new extras, put together by Red Shirt Pictures, starting with an interview with actress Lucinda Dickey entitled Dancing With Death that clocks in at just over eighteen minutes. Here she speaks about how she got into the film business with an appearance in Grease 2 and then the Breakin’ movies before making cult film history with Ninja III. She talks about which films were shot and released in which order, what it was like working for Cannon Films (who she had a contract with), and her thoughts on this particular film and the people that she worked with on it. Actor Jordan Bennett is up next in the ten-minute Secord’s Struggles piece where he lends some insight into how he came up with the film’s infamous V-8 juice scene, how much fun he had working with everyone on the picture and his thoughts on the movie itself. Fun stuff. Producer and stuntman Alan Amiel shows up in the twelve-minute Birth Of The Ninja piece, talking up what he did on the shoot in both roles, where he appears in the film, some of the stunt work required for the feature and more.

    The disc also includes audio Interviews with production designer Elliot Ellentuck and co-composer Misha Segal that also features isolated tracks from the original Score. The focus in these interviews is on their respective contributions to the film, but it’s great to get to hear some of the music without the film playing behind it – it’s very much a product of its time but it has a lot of cool retro charm.

    Closing out the extras is the film’s original theatrical trailer that is presented with optional Trailers From Hell commentary with Screenwriter Josh Olson that is quite amusing, two different still galleries, menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    Ninja III: The Domination is a blast – a wholly unorthodox ninja movie to be sure, but crazy entertaining in its own unhinged way. Lucinda Dickey and Sho Kosugi are both a kick here, and Shout! Factory’s new Blu-ray re-issue does right by the film by presenting it in much nicer shape than we’ve seen before and with a host of supplements (most of which are exclusive to this disc).

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!









































    Comments 1 Comment
    1. cmeffa's Avatar
      cmeffa -
      I love this film, as well as Revenge Of The Ninja, Enter The Ninja, and Cannon films in general. It is a very interesting hybrid I have seen many times in the past. I hope to get this edition sometime soon. Thanks for the review.