Ninja Project Daredevils (19??)

Directed by: Bruce Lambert
Written by: Ronald Nicholas
Producer: Tomas Tang
Starring: Chris Peterson, Daniel Wells, Kelly Kruize, Henry Band, & Richard Young

Sourcing Shin Sang-ok's war drama At 13 Years Old (Korea, 1974. Thanks to Toby Russell, Mateusz Paduch-Cichal and Jesús Manuel Pérez Molina for this information), the plot possibly and simply exchanges communists for ninjas. At any rate, the national army grabs a young boy from a village preaching about freedom and against the army who's stealing their crops. Little Jimmy is in fact the victim of brainwashing courtesy of the ninjas and Commander Lee does his best to bring Jimmy back to the city and reality. All while the purple and yellow ninja clans battle it out...

It's possibly only the contrasts that makes this fun and the amusing notion that this original film gets paired up with the 80s iconography of ninjas. Because Filmark are not necessarily furthering themselves as makers of the goofy here. But the attitude, which is not a serious one really, helps make matters tolerable. The Filmark crew stay pretty respectful towards the Shin Sang-ok footage by dubbing it in a straightforward manner but crank it when involving themselves plot- and action-wise essentially.

Shin Sang-ok's film as presented incomplete and in an alternate manner here doesn't rely on the spectacle of war necessarily and melodrama tactics are evident. But despite the very open intent (i.e. propaganda) hanging over it, there is at least seemingly a grounded, sincere attempt at human drama between Jimmy and the Commander. A father-son bond in intent, that then ventures into the goofy as the re-structure of the story requires it's ninjas that did a number on Jimmy's mind.

Perhaps a disservice to the original intentions but Filmark had it and were free to re-do At 13 Years Old as much as they wanted. Not bothering to carefully fit their ninja plot together with it, the amusing contrast to the Michael and George conflict (i.e the yellow and purple ninja-leaders) carries us through Ninja Project Daredevils fairly well. Swordplay action at times has a nice flow and intensity to it (as well as some intense bloodletting in Sun Chien's scenes) but most memorably, the Westerners are asked to act big... and more. The core enjoyment is seeing nonsense being shouted, ninja rules regarding not getting into politics stated and a nice display of gadgets and weaponry for the end reel becomes memorable. Look forward to sai-flame throwers, nunchucks shooting bullets and the Filmark stretch ultimately lodges into your memory. In particular the final stretch. Mixed with Korea, it struggles to make much sense but the fact that THIS slice of Korean cinema is what it decided to do business with is amusing for as long as the movie lasts anyway. It's part flimsy, largely also forgettable.

reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson