Ninja 8: Warriors Of Fire (1988)

Directed by: Bruce Lambert
Producer: Tomas Tang
Written by : Cary Nelson
Starring: Joff Houston, Glen Carson, Lu I-Chan, Ma Sha, O Chun-Hung, Chi Kuan-Chun & Chen Hung-Lieh

Using Chester Wong's Queen Bee (1981, Taiwan) as its source, this Filmark cut and paste production was one of at least three Jonathan Isgar (billed as Joff Houston) shot with co-lead Glen Carson and the scripting essentially remains the same in this, Ninja Phantom Heros USA and Ninja: American Warrior. I.e. former army buddies now turned deadly enemies (this movie even features a low budget and slooooow version of the Russian roulette scene from The Deer Hunter). Unlike those two however, Ninja 8: Warriors Of Fire doesn't make Carson a ninja and it's also one of Filmark's most entertaining two movies glued together to create a new one type of products. Thank Taiwanese cinema for that.

Robin (Carson) is believed to be in possession of confidential plans and is kidnapped by the Black Ninja-gang (led by Isgar's Victor) on his wedding day. To boot, his bride to be Mary is raped and murdered when it turns out she doesn't have the plans. An order coming from Chen Hung-Lieh's eeeeeevil character who of course is working with the Black Ninja's in Filmark's re-structure of the story. Jenny (Lu I-Chan), sister of Mary, swears revenge and receives ninja training by White Ninja leader Alfred (O Chung-Hung) and he names her 'Crazy Like A Bee'. Cue violence...

Possibly inspired by the fact they acquired a gritty, action packed and primal female revenge movie in the first place, regardless Tomas Tang produces one of their premium efforts as their footage is swift and fun (even during inept moments) and Chester Wong's original very impactful. Not that Wong infused Taiwanese cinema of the time with groundbreaking material and to be fair, Queen Bee is a lesser version of Karen Yang's The Lady Avenger. But that's not to say it's missing teeth after a basic exploitation setup. Via O Chung-Hung's dignified performance as Jenny's master, leading to her reaching expertise in fighting, gambling and sporting an iconic tattoo, the wheels are turning quite noticeably and effectively all throughout Queen Bee. Much thanks to Lu I-Chan bringing perhaps her best example of fury, fire, sex-appeal and excellent action-skill to the screen as her various encounters are also fight-based. The pace is fast, the choreography very intricate and seemingly molded after her skill and potential. A basic setup that dramatically needs to have punch, Wong brings it and channels it through his leading lady all the way through the exciting action showdown versus Ma Sha and his henchmen.,

Although quite choppily and sloppily edited in the latter sections (there's mentions of a romance between Jenny and Ma Sha's son that's never shown for instance) and Filmark's footage isn't integrated to the degree where you just believe without a doubt this is one movie, Lambert's sections are nonetheless energetic and fun. They are basic glue for the stock-plot that's being re-used but there is a sense of urgency and skill at making matters flow. Even skilled action-wise as the rescue scene of Robin shows, the Chinese stuntmen worked out some nifty weapons fights here.

Of course Ninja 8: Warriors Of Fire is not going for serious, dramatic impact but rather the Filmark and even IFD theme of providing action entertainment with an aura of fun. Sometimes fun was so far away from the filmmaking presented and even though Filmark's on set crew presumably had little to no idea of the quality in Queen Bee, they do provide their own cheesy stretches in between Wong's footage that we gladly follow and laugh with (and sometimes at).


reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson