• Ninja: The Final Duel (Crash Cinema) DVD Review

    Released by: Crash Cinema
    Released on: July 16th, 2002.
    Director: Robert Tai
    Cast: Alexander Lo, Alice Tseng, Allan Lee
    Year: 1986
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    Ninja: The Final Duel – Movie Review:

    Wow. Where do I start with this one? Apparently the original version of this film was originally six hours long, so understandably, the North American version, which clocks in at 90 minutes, is going to be a completely incoherent mess. And that’s exactly what this edition of Robert Tai’s Ninja: The Final Duel really is. But I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way, as Ninja The Final Duel is guaranteed to please anyone with a taste for ninja nonsense, quirky characters and horrible English dubbing.

    The basic premise behind the story is this – In Japan there are a vicious group of evil ninjas who really hate the Shaolin Monks of China. They train and train and train some more until they’ve mastered such renowned fighting techniques as the ‘Swastika Trap’ and the ‘Flying Water Spider’ so that they’ll have no trouble taking down those pesky monks once they decide that the time is right. Along comes a Japanese Shaolin monk who happens to travel to China to train with those monks around the same time that the ninjas start messing people up but good.

    Throw into the mix a blaxploitation-style jive talkin’ bad-ass monk from the ghetto of Harlem (referred to as the ‘Shaolin Ghetto Freak’ and who has one of the most amazingly inept dubbing jobs that I’ve ever had the pleasure to listen to – spouting off lines like ‘she’s turned into ash, now don’t gimme no trash’ during a fight), a girl who appears, takes off her clothes, gets beaten up by ninjas, puts her clothes back on and gets killed by ninjas all in about 4 minutes time, an evil ninja master who pops in and out of the scene and plays a magic flute, and top it all off with a pair of effeminate Hari Krishna’s who hail from California and you’ve got one utterly insane film.

    People are decapitated, classic lines are spouted, and ninjas paddle around on boats, possibly created from papier-mâché, made to look like giant spiders and then take off flying through the air. There is seriously so much craziness going on at all times during this movie that it’s pretty impossible not to love it, even if sometimes that love is for all the wrong reasons.

    And what about the fight scenes? Well, they’re actually pretty intense and there’s certainly no shortage of them. Ninja’s fly, burrow underground like groundhogs, swim, climb and bounce all over the place while using all sorts of great weapons. Shaolin monks punch and kick their way through the ninjas with spears, swords, and a flying guillotine-styled chained cutting device.

    But really, this is what you should expect from Robert Tai, the man who brought us such camp kung-fu classics as Shaolin Dolemite and Ninja Vs. Mafia, isn’t it? Those who pay attention to the movie will even be rewarded by the film’s soundtrack that blatantly rips off cues from Rambo as well as the Ghostbusters theme song. Stuff like that counts for a lot.

    Ninja: The Final Duel – DVD Review:

    I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that this was mastered from a VHS tape, as it’s wavy and washed out looking for most of the movie. It’s negligibly letterboxed on the top of the screen, but still appears to be cropped a bit. Still, imperfect as it is, it’s watchable, and it would seem unlikely anyone is going to give this a remaster anytime soon.

    The English language Dolby Digital 2.0 track is pretty weak at times. The sound effects are cranked over the dialogue and the soundtrack can sometimes be blaring or soft in the same few seconds. The weakness of the source material shows in the audio mix. The movie is dubbed, and that may irk some purists out there, but this time the dubbing worked wonderfully. It just adds to whole insanity factor that the movie exudes in spades from start to finish.

    There is a trailer included that has some mild spoilers and should be watched after the film itself, as it is worth checking out, as it’s pretty funny. There is also a chapter stop insert included.

    Ninja: The Final Duel – The Final Word:

    You’ll probably have a blast watching this movie despite the weak picture and sound; the poor quality actually kind of adds to the experience in a way that you might not expect, it has a nostalgic crappy VHS quality to it. Make no mistake, this is not a good film by any stretch, but it’s hard to see how anyone could not have a good time watching it. It’s hysterical and the action never lets up the entire time.

    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Gary Banks's Avatar
      Gary Banks -
      In screenshot #19 (I think), is he kissing his boo boo to make it all better?
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      One of my most wanted films to get a decent upgrade. It is as bonkers a film as I've ever seen.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      hahaha, I remember watching this with you....the boat spiders hahahahaha.