The Super Ninja (1984)

Directed by: James Wu
Written by: Lee Hong-Nin
Producer: Gam Cheung-Kuen
Starring: Alexander Lo Rei, Eugene Thomas, Jack Lung, William Yen, Chang Yi-Tao & Tong Lung

 

Cops John (Alexander Lo Rei) and Spencer (Eugene Thomas) are partners, working on the force in America. With the two being trained martial artists and the former also a ninja, they are an effective force disliked by their superior. When John is framed for a crime he didn't commit, he needs to channel all the lessons his master (Jack Lung) taught him in order to bring down the drug smugglers behind the plan to take him out of action. Their ace up their sleeves: The aid of the Five Element Ninjas...

Distributed complete by Tomas Tang's Filmark as 'The Ninja Squad Killers Invisible' (Wu's directorial credit was kept), the first collaboration between director Wu and lead Alexander Lo Rei is a showcase of craftsmanship despite having basic goals. Existing for action, The Super Ninja might not have the refined frame but nonetheless is very technically able.

Supposedly set in America and Hong Kong (a couple of American flags in otherwise pretty bare rooms confirms that), Wu essentially gets away with half a movie with setup and half an action movie. Not that film-touches are missing as John's torture scene contains clever flashbacks to his painful training and throughout hints are dropped this Taiwanese production have the correct train of thoughts in terms of how to convey action through choreography, speed and editing. A swift pace to the narrative and outside of audience pleasing elements such as action, we also get an extended sex scene that would have a chance of surviving a market or two in terms of censorship.

Coming to life in a way better fashion once it's clear the Taiwan crew are all fighting with each other rather than Lo Rei vs the more sluggish Western cast (Eugene Thomas can keep up though), Wu is very confident bringing in the mash-up of an Eastern-Western cop film and ancient elements such as the Five Element Ninjas. The wonderful montage showcasing their respective elements-skills concerning Earth, Water, Fire etc signals The Super Ninja is on its way to increase speed tenfold.

With a plethora of fight scenarios versus a powerful and capable action lead in Alexander Lo Rei (in Rambo-mode at point as well), Wu's action team create some stunning mixtures of physical one on one's, ninja weaponry depiction via sharp editing, speed and imagination. It's all incredibly energetic and fun, showing that James Wu fit very well into the decade of film ninjitsu and perhaps argues with this film, he's at the forefront of it.

 

reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson