1983. The year the third Star Wars movie pussed out and changed its title from Revenge of the Jedi to Return of the Jedi. It was also the year that the second part of the thematic “Ninja Trilogy” flipped into theaters (you can read my review of the first movie here). Did the ninja return? Fuck no. The ninja came back for revenge.
Before I delve into it, let's take a moment to revel in the majesty of its poster.
Self-professed real-life ninja, Sho Kosugi, who played the evil ninja in the previous film, is back, but this time he’s recast as the good-guy ninja. And not just any ol’ good-guy ninja, a good-guy daddy ninja. Sho’s real-life son, Kane Kosugi, plays his adorable little ninja son in the movie. Interestingly, they play characters with names almost identical to thier actual names: Cho Osaki and Kane Osaki.
Since this movie has an actual martial artist in the lead role (as opposed to Django, like the first movie), it features plenty of badass fight scenes. Which, you know, should be expected when you watch a ninja film.
Warning: Lots of spoilers ahead.
The movie starts at a fancy home in Japan (which the movie tells me is in Tokyo, but it looks to me more like a rural setting during the feudal era), where a bunch of people are peacefully hanging around outside, bowing to one-another and being all Japanese, when suddenly: ninjas!
The ninjas brutally slaughter everyone they see, including women, old people, and children. It’s awesome.
Meanwhile, Sho Kosugi is out for a nice stroll with a white dude business partner/friend named Braden (you know right off the bat the dude’s an asshole with a name like Braden).
Braden is trying to convince Sho to move to America to start up a craft business, but Sho refuses because he needs to stay in Japan and fight ninjas like his father and grandfather. Then they arrive at Sho’s home to find his family had been ninja'd to death. Sho kills the ninjas with his own ninja power, then discovers that the only family he has left are his mom and his infant son, Kane.
Sho’s all butthurt about the mass slaughter, so he swears off being a ninja like a total pussy. He decides to take Braden’s advice and moves with his mom and his son to California. The movie then jumps ahead six years.
We’re treated to a scene of Kane, now six years old, walking home from school with Ninja Grandma. For some reason, a gang of young hoodlums decide to try to beat him up.
Maybe because he’s wearing a pink sweater, a baseball cap that barely fits on his head, and is walking around with this dumb-ass expression:
Of course, the gang wasn't prepared for Kane to go all ninja on them. Grandma Ninja looks on approvingly, but Sho arrives and bitches out his son for not being a complete pussy, as is their new way in America.
So just how much of a pussy has Sho become? He now runs a doll shop. That’s how much. From ninja, to doll maker. But he still maintains a little bit of manhood by giving sexual tension-filled martial arts lessons to Braden’s busty blonde assistant, who cosplays as Ken Masters sans pants.
Everything’s well and good.
Psyche! Braden is secretly a demon-mask wearing ninja who uses Sho’s doll business as a front to smuggle heroin. That’s right, he wears a mask under his mask.
Braden ends up butting heads with the local mafia big shot, this guy:
So he dons his ninja outfit and starts assassinating mafia dudes.
Mafia Big Shot sends some goons to loot the heroin dolls from Sho’s store. Sho catches them in the act and a big fight scene ensues. Apparently, years of peacefully making dolls has sapped the balls out of Sho, because a few generic street hoods lead by a Native American named Chief are able to get the better of him and get away with the heroin dolls.
While Sho’s off chasing the thugs, Braden, decked out in his ninja outfit and chrome demon mask, arrives at Cho’s place, where he engages in a ridiculous battle with Grandma Ninja.
He kills her, but little Kane sees Braden unmasked and manages to escape. So Braden goes home for some kinky action:
And hypnotizes Busty Blonde into going to find and kidnap Kane.
Sho returns home all beaten and battered, to find his mom murdered and Kane missing. He reluctantly teams up with a police karate expert who’s one of the worst actors I’ve seen in a non-erotic movie.
They go question some ex-cons that might know something. These fucking jokers:
And of course, since they’re dressed like complete assholes, they don’t cooperate and a big martial arts brawl takes place on the playground while dozens of onlookers enjoy the show.
[The broad in the glasses on the left looks like she’s never seen anything quite so marvelous as Sho Kosugi’s shoes.]
Of course Sho and Karate Cop kick ass, but then this sly motherfucker peeks out of nowhere and totally cheats by using a gun.
Too bad for him, Sho Kosugi is always prepared. He removes his belt buckle, which of course is secretly a ninja star, and fucks up the cheater.
So the bad dudes are all beaten up. What do you think Sho and Karate Cop do next? Arrest them, bring them into the station and interrogate them? No, they simply walk away, leaving the bad guys writhing around on the ground in pain. Apparently, they learned their lesson.
Busty Blonde then finds Kane, and they engage in a glorious battle in the dojo. I gotta say, watching a blonde babe and a six-year-old beat the shit out of each other fucking rules.
The fight ends when Busty Blonde gives up on the karate shit and merely picks him up and carries him off. After bringing Kane to her boss, Busty Blonde breaks free of the ninja hypnosis and calls Sho to warn him about how Braden is actually a bad guy ninja. This causes Sho to finally bust out the ninja gear and go into full-blown revenge mode.
The final sequence has both Sho and Braden dressed as ninjas, individually infiltrating the headquarters of Mafia Big Shot. Meanwhile, Busty Blonde is chained up in a hot tub as it’s filled up to the point of overflowing.
Before she can drown, Kane manages to break free and come to her rescue in a silly fight scene in which he actually distracts the guard by pointing and saying, “Hey look, it’s Superman.” As his reward for saving Busty Blonde, he gets to stand around and watch her wear a wet wifebeater and panties.
Both Sho and Braden kill a bunch of mafia goons, then finally attempt to kill each other during an epic rooftop battle that may just be the greatest ninja duel in cinema history.
They pull out all the stops, including some completely absurd ninja magic. At one point, Sho slices through Braden, only to discover that Braden had somehow instantly replaced himself with a full-sized fiber-glass replica.
Likewise, at another point a ninja arm shoots forth from a rooftop jacuzzi, grabbing Sho’s leg. Sho chops it off, only to discover that it’s a mechanical arm.
The movie doesn’t even attempt to make sense of these things.
Of course, Sho Kosugi ends up winning the duel, bringing Braden to a satisfyingly gory end. An end that should befall anyone named Braden.
Ninja Factor: Although Sho Kosugi doesn’t dress like a ninja until the end, this movie still delivers on some radical ninja action.
Satan Factor: The bad dude wears a chrome demon mask with his ninja outfit, like some kind of satanic Destro.
Boob Factor: Not bad. Busty Blonde spends a couple scenes in translucent lingerie, and her bare tits are shown briefly when her sumo wrestler captor tries to rape her. There’s also a scene of a mafia dude in a fancy bubble bath with some topless brunette.
Street Hoods in Ridiculous Outfits Factor: Near-maximum factor.
80s Factor: Although it feels less ‘70s than The Octagon or Enter the Ninja, it still doesn’t quite have that full-on ‘80s flavor.
Overall Rating: 3.5 Pentastars out of five. Good stupid fun.