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Ninja: American Warrior (1988)

Directed by: Tommy Cheng
Producer: Tomas Tang
Written by : Martin Holland
Starring: Jonathan Isgar, John Wilford, Peter David, Glen Carson, Chi Kuan-Chun & Lu I-Chan

Using Chester Wong's Queen Bee's Revenge (1981, Taiwan) as its source (a celluloid landscape with ninjas in it already so Filmark had the excuse), Tomas Tang presents a run of the mill concoction of his own produced, timid, even limp (but fun) footage vs an intense, gritty Taiwanese actioner that elevates the final product immensely.

Amazonia (Lu I-Chan) is asked to team up with a CIA agent (Filmark's own addition, played by Glen Carson) to crack a narcotics ring. She'll deal with the triad side while the agent (and ninja) will seek out mastermind of it all, Justin Taylor (Jonathan Isgar, billed as Joff Houston here). Taylor is also his former comrade in arms as they were in Vietnam together. Drama.

As spliced together, Queen Bee's Revenge mostly makes sure to maintain the momentum even though Filmark taking their short lived female ninja and having her put on the mask of Amazonia (cue source movie footage) is ideas right out of a very good drug haze. After possibly tightening Chester Wong's movie together (his downtime between action was usually not any good), it really is a brutal action spectacle and a true star vehicle for Lu I-Chan. Heavily involved in the action scenes, Wong also gives us a plethora of brutal and heinous bloodshed as triggers for revenge. Amazonia faces off against a white faced villain using ninjitsu among other things and the delightful factor here is that the action scenarios feel very fresh each time.

Shooting scenes with a Lu I-Chan double to connect the movies at one point, as a contrast Tommy Cheng's footage is mildly outrageous but mostly bland. Having the two former comrades in arms having to make difficult personal decisions is not high drama but Filmark deserves some credit for trying to mix it up and not be as calculated as IFD was. The various Westerners gathered up and Chinese doubles for the action choreography makes more of a soft impression and it's really the hokey action footage towards the end that amuses more. New territories warfare essentially that includes ninja slingshots, ninja decoys and mannequins blown up (a not so convincing gag). Ninja: American Warrior makes no claim for artistry but for commercialism and is kept afloat in a rather excellent way by its source movie. But with enough fun glimpses of inadequate, spliced in footage, the newly created product for the market becomes an eye brow raiser when the two parts are added up.

 

reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson