Bionic Ninja (1986)

Directed by: Tim Ashby
Written by: Alan Jackson
Producer: Tomas Tang
Starring: Kelly Steve, Alan Hemmings, Rick Wilson, Peter Chan, Andy Man & Jack Young

 

Knowing Filmark, to try out anything bionic despite not being truly capable of it did not stop them. The 'Robo' trio of movies consisting of Robo Vampire, The Vampire Is Alive and Revenge Of The Vampire proved that so rationally or not, especially if you're a fan of said trilogy, Filmark and bionic could be a match made in heaven. The sad thing is, Bionic Ninja doesn't fulfill its promise present in the title at all. In fact, the bionic part might be disguised heavily or simply not present is the logical answer sadly. What is present is a clear lack of inspiration on behalf of them and the original Hong Kong filmmakers. Going through the motions at Filmark or IFD often meant deadly dull results.

Sourcing the Hong Kong 1984 production (as an aside Joseph Lai's IFD rarely or even ever turned to Hong Kong for source material) Daring Kung Fu Refugee (directed by Wong Ka Hung and starring Alex Man and Kent Cheng), the plot as merged with the Tim Ashby (an alias for someone at Filmark, whether a hired hand, several or the in house stuntmen, action actors and filmmakers) is generic fodder from the ninja-movie making factory at Filmark. Concerning a stolen parcel containing a top technical secret film (the movie's words, not mine), more villainous forces are targeting the likes of Lou Wong (Chan Lau) and Gordon Nam (Alex Man) with violence and some fighting being the bi-product of this. Duo of cops (Kent Cheng and Alan Chan) are on the case as is American CIA agent Tommy Foster (possibly Kelly Steve but Filmark sometimes put the leading man third or fourth in the credits). Enter the separate sections of him failing at his investigation but things change when he starts learning ninjitsu...

The effort that IS put forth by Tomas Tang is them going the lengths to bring in Chan Lau and Alan Chan from the original for a couple of newly shot scenes in order to bridge the two on its way to the illusion of being one, whole, NEW film. Plus initially the grit of Daring Kung Fu Refugee (an odd English title for a modern day movie) shows some promise with well timed and fast street fighting. Although basing view solely how Filmark's editors and dubbers re-did the original footage, there is a clear sense here not too far into the film that it can't re-capture or further earlier established grit and as a crime piece it largely looks flat and unappealing. The low budget has to do with this but director Wong Ka Hung has no chops to elevate it into an escalating thriller with a lot on line for characters at the forefront.

Filmark does nothing to elevate energy and fun either after initially showing they are willing to put in effort. Connecting themselves to the original footage via brief shots of ninjas sneaking around and watching events from the other movie, the sparse cutaways to Tommy Foster reveals a horribly inept (but in shape) actor. It's only the beats of his character being very incapable, going to find a ninja master that gives him an ancient manual and two-three scenes later he's mastered the art of ninjitsu that entertains. Not the celluloid itself that again ranks as very stale. The fight finale vs Wayne Archer at least gives the Chinese stuntmen something to do but there's not much to look forward too here even if you do like the word bionic.

 

reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson