For this next edition of “Kung Fu Gunk Fu,” I want to ask: Have you ever wanted to see a glacially paced movie wherein a multiracial band of martial arts assassins with no personalities do the bidding of an evil woman, and only a double-digit-IQ police lieutenant and a bland hero with no real ambitions or hope in life can stop them mostly through laziness? If so, Paul Kyriazi’s 1976 classic Death Machines is the film for you.
This next film in my “Kung Fu Gunk Fu” lineup is something I found to be absolutely unjustifiably brilliant. It is without a doubt one of the best ninja movies I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen Ninja Assassin, a movie that had an assassinating ninja! I’ve also come to the conclusion that ninja movies can only be good or great, and this one is definitely the latter. It had me so involved and so intrigued, not to mention there are some amazingly erotic scenes that managed to get my mini ninja to stealthily pop up.
This movie I’m touting as one of my new faves is Ninja Death I by director Joseph Kuo, from 1987, the same year as the last film I reviewed, Ninja Phantom Heroes (also called Ninja Empire). It’s the first movie in a three-part series that has a story which rivals the original Star Wars trilogy, but I’ll only review the first in order to pay attention to other bonafide classics in this genre.
To kick off what I’ve just now entitled “Kung Fu Gunk Fu”, here’s a movie that somehow managed to slip deep into the cracks of obscurity without so much as a whimper, and that’s because behind its fragile shell lies a tough suit of armor just waiting to unleash itself like a stealthy ninja. This movie I speak of is one solid diamond in the rough called Ninja Empire, directed by Bruce Lambert (a pseudonym of the almighty Godfrey Ho) in 1990. In actuality, this film is a 1987 flick called Ninja Phantom Heroes, as another film named Ninja Empire directed by Ho is the one that appears on IMDb with that title, about ninjas investigating murdered prostitutes. It’s all a bit confusing, really, and the reviewers on there seem confused as well.