Golden Ninja Warrior (1986)

Written & directed by: Joseph Lai
Producers: Joseph Lai & Betty Chan
Starring: Donald Owen, Queenie Yang, Morna Lee, Mike Tien & Richard Harrison


A change of appearance coming from Joseph Lai and IFD but yet not, Golden Ninja Warrior looks like the easiest job the usual personnel involved ever had to do. Having acquired a bad film filled with hokey, sellable ninja shenanigans present already (source movie was Taiwan's Thunder Cat Woman from 1985 as reported in this blogpost. A movie that was shot in two versions: Local sans ninjas and nudity and international WITH ninjas and nudity) perhaps Joseph Lai thought that just in case they should put Richard Harrison in there so presto, footage from the finale of Ninja Terminator was re-cycled for the narrated the opening and a Special Appearance by-credit solidified perhaps some of the best sales but definitely some of the best ninja shenanigans from IFD that wasn't even created BY IFD!

Strangely enough, as the original film dominates, detailing golden ninja Sherri's need for revenge and the parallel mission in which Michael (a very physical Western cast member) has to bring back the legendary golden ninja status to China, matters actually do cohere a few notches more than usual coming from IFD (normally, nothing is decipherable). The golden ninja warrior statue connection is wafer thin at best and Sherri (as dubbed anyway) even has the sense to ask what it has to do with her. So while someone thought Ninja Terminator needed a barely related sequel, someone didn't think IFD's players should be very concerned with it either. The original's more authentic ninjas does get injected as bizarrely out of left field though as the revenge plot contains revenge, drug dealing gang bosses, grungy brothels, whipping, disturbing rape and as wrong as some of that is, it's delightful ninjas has a place within all this. It also represents the energy boost Golden Ninja Warrior desperately needed.

The exploitation elements hold interest though with the low budget working in favour of the filmmakers who set the brothel in white walled, run down environments and the way in particular the whipping and rape scene go on, the tone is definitely uncomfortable but thankfully also broken up into fun segments of ninja trickery and lack of ninja reasoning. Some side characters such as Mike Tien's (actor's Chinese name being Li Mu-Chen) journalist Dick, his attempt to woo Sherri and a pipe smoking cop stalking Boss Lau is annoying but bearable stuff but said energy boost is the selling point and most memorable stretches of film here. Using a frantic camera and sometimes as frantic editing, if talking action the staging is really stiff and limp but when replacing the actors by stuntmen in the suits, the film speed may be undercranked but the energy (that also IFD were apt at channeling) is there. Especially if you can't resist the prospect of heat seeking knives, heat seeking ninja stars, and an unwarranted bathing scene turning into a nude fight scene (reminiscent of an iconic scene in Sex & Fury). The headcratching reasoning why ninjas fight in their costumes on- and off remains a delight for the right mind and crowd and would make for a great drinking game.

It's all in the slightly re-structured fun by IFD, the wacky sense of fun they forwarded to the world and that the original "geniuses" had their hokey- and exploitation hearts in the right place. Sans ninja-headbands, Golden Ninja Warrior lets its acquired material play on its own but earns a deserved place in this wonderfully reeking catalogue of films.


reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson