Diamond Ninja Force (1986)

Written & directed by: Godfrey Ho
Producers: Joseph Lai & Betty Chan
Starring: Richard Harrison, Melvin Pitcher, Andy Chrorowsky, Pierre Tremblay, Kong Do & Clifford Allan


Setting out initially to cover the largely uncovered section of IFD's history (check out the Wolfen Ninja review for a basic breakdown of their history and practices) concerning their presentations of complete gems from late 70s/early 80s Taiwan fantasy- and exploitation cinema, in reality what is also sadly unmentioned when bringing up their famous/infamous Ninja cut & paste productions often starring Richard Harrison is that some of the mixtures of an older Asian movie with newly shot footage with Westerners inserted is that some of them were actually good! Good from both Joseph Lai's and Godfrey Ho's camp and the original movie underneath. Or it was the case of IFD spicing up the completely unrelated movie so well, both movie A and movie B if you will thrived. For sure, many of IFD's Ninja movies and the likes were chores and essentially only coming to life when Richard Harrison's or Pierre Kirby's scenes got showcased but this continuing coverage IFD will primarily focus on when IFD formula was golden not only for the market looking for anything Ninja-ish or bearing the IFD logo. Although Joseph Lai, Godfrey Ho and company are in well treaded territory with Diamond Ninja Force (it's no modern gangster thriller akin to Majestic Thunderbolt for instance), it's a cobbled together mess that is golden (ninja empire) because of what is merged with Richard Harrison's and Kong Do's ninja clan battles: a haunted house movie! Yea, it's an obvious riff on Poltergeist but added ghost-sex and essentially increasing the exploitation factor helps matters immensely because it sure doesn't look like Godfrey Ho is feeling the inspiration.

On a construction site human bones are found that turns out to belong to the descendants of the Black Ninja clan (headed now by Kong Do - an IFD and Filmark regular). A house is built upon the land eventually by billionaire Bernard Wong so in order to get the land back, the Black Ninja clan evokes devil magic and gets ghosts to kill Bernard Wong. The daughter moves in and the family's patience and psyché is tested as the devil magic ghosts and spirits do their worst to drive the family away from the land. The Diamond Ninja Force (of course led by Richard Harrison's Gordon) wows to protect the family however...

The verdict on the merging of movies into one plot? In all honesty, it's workable and bearable stuff despite the editing being of IFD standards which includes (Garfield) phone conversations between characters from IFD's side and the original movie and when they're placed in the same room is always the time when the editing isn't so much a technique but a cheesy factor and standard. So it's actually the original ghost movie that saves the tired folks at IFD for once. It's a slow trek to wait for the original filmmakers go for the exploitation version of Poltergeist or The Amytyville Horror though.

During that trek IFD's usually awkward Westerners entertain, Richard Harrison looks bored and embarrassed as usual (no Thunderbolt movie for Richard this time to show a meaner and more inspired presence) in endless preparation scenes which are heavy on the eyeliner and posing. But amping it up is indeed the key and then it doesn't matter when IFD's footage is highly formulaic and devoid of energy coming from them (footage from other movies such as Majestic Thunderbolt and Ninja Thunderbolt is even recycled!) because a whole, a coherent sense of fun finally places itself over Diamond Ninja Force.

We get the usual haunted house stuff in the original movie with ghostly apparitions made-up as pale, cutlery coming to life and the husband not believing the wife and their kid Bobo (yes, Bobo)) but when it's featuring rather unwarranted nudity, disgusting hands grabbing the wife in the bath and maggots coming out of the faucets... you know there's a mix forming that is truly lovely. Placing the fight for supremacy in the ninja clan world alongside an increasingly nasty and naughty horror movie, there's a reason Diamond Ninja Force stands out in the IFD library.

Furthermore, the main female ghost turns out to have sexual desires so not only does she watch the couple have sex but she also possesses the wife unbeknownst to the husband and it's wonderful seeing a lack of restraint on behalf of the original filmmakers. Their colors and intentions are still visible. All while Harrison's Gordon in very short action sequences kills off Kong Do's henchmen in uninspired action scenes and it's only towards the end where the acrobat doubles truly gets a minor chance to deliver for Godfrey Ho. The movies may be grossly mismatched but a certain valid merging takes place between the original and IFD. While the original movie may win and Ho's ninjas' asses are saved by it, IFD are to be thanked we got a chance to see sexual abuse by ghosts of humans, even if only in cut up and altered form. As flimsy as the golden ninja empire prop, Diamond Ninja Force is one of the gems in the IFD library so thank Hong Kong or Taiwan cinema.


reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson