Written & directed by: Godfrey Ho
Producers: Joseph Lai & Betty Chan Starring: Mike Abbott, Marko Ritchie, Hsu Ying-Chu, Lee Miu-Chan & Peter Cressall
Using Taiwan's Lover And Killer (aka Fierce Lady, directed by Lai Man-Sing. See blog post about the movie here) as a source movie to support the Mike Abbott and Marko Ritchie modern actioner with a little bit of ninja thrown in, Ninja Knight - Thunder Fox shows the switch to modern sans ninja but with the inclusion of Godfrey Ho had quite a bit going for it. When he left, IFD's formula ran into problems.
Bonnie (Hsu Ying-Chu from the 1987 original) and Brad (Marko Ritchie) run a detective agency together and the former is also searching for her missing sister. Last whereabouts being connected to a modeling school. Bonnie infiltrates said school while a roll of film has Mike Abbott (and his henchmen assassins) killing off the character of Pam. But she manages to mail it to Brad so each respective PI has his and her action-plot to participate in now...
Reportedly not re-structuring Lover And Killer distinctly at all, there is therefore quality you can view and determine here. Coming from the latter half of the 80s, the feel is not that of the gritty new wave of the 80s but rather something like ' Taiwan Black Movies'-mild. With some undercranked action scenes of the models beating up henchmen unconvincingly, it definitely has trouble breaking through due to this artificial nature. Gaining an impact once death is treated in an ugly, vicious manner (mainly through a brutal stabbing scene), the revenge aura surrounding the standard plot begins to take on decent life as headed by Hsu Ying-Chu. Game and participating in a fair amount of action scenes, her wardrobe and weapons arsenal (mainly crossbow) ticks and achieves the iconic, fun nature the Taiwan movie eventually receives. The action remains a bit too undercranked to come off as THAT hard and gritty but it definitely achieves an edgy level once stabbings start.
Briefly participating or running alongside this plot we see infrequent IFD leading man Marko Ritchie whose character is also a ninja... something IFD does not chose to lean on mainly. See it as a transition vehicle where familiar action beats with the stuntmen in the brightly colored ninja suits and the stuntmen sans it continue to do impressive work while Godfrey Ho's eye makes sure the brief bursts of action comes with a rapid nature to them. Highlights including Ritchie's stunt double doing flips to avoid being hit by bullets, bloody squib work and Mike Abbott saying bastard whenever he gets a chance. Even the finale goes some new places conceptually with the foes doing flips in order to pick up scattered ammunition on the ground.
Yes, not even relying on ninjas for the finale, Ninja Knight - Thunder Fox really shows that it wasn't a bad thing to embrace modern action and gunplay. But subsequent evidence has shown Godfrey Ho's eye was very much needed after this transition was made too.