Ninja Terminator (1986)

Written & directed by: Godfrey Ho
Producers: Joseph Lai & Betty Chan
Starring: Richard Harrison, Hwang Jang-Lee, Phillip Ko, Jonathan Wattis, Maria Francesca & Jack Lam


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 a 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 and onwards will still focus on when IFD formula was golden not only for the market looking for anything Ninja-ish or bearing the IFD logo.

Ninja Terminator always gets quoted, surely thanks via a snappy title but also due to the fact that the movie IFD re-edited and released as a Richard Harrison vehicle was South Korea's (note that this surely akin to a direct translation as Korean movies weren't always exported) The Uninvited Guest of the Star Ferry (1984, Kim Si-Hyun, director of Kung Fu Fever) starring fan favourite Hwang Jang-Lee and odd scenes courtesy of Godfrey Ho involving toy robots and dinner delights in the form of crabs. It's even inspired creative You Tube videos and no wonder there's fun to be had to this day because Ninja Terminator is possibly THE most fun Godfrey Ho and IFD ever had (even with a totally bored Richard 'I Wish I Was Dead' Harrison in the mix). Combined with a memorable fighting hero and the fight choreography in the Korean original, this serves as a fine and THE introduction to the tactics of IFD!

Three members (Richard Harrison's Harry, Jonathan Watts, unidentified Asian guy) from the Golden Ninja Empire break free and each steal a part of the coveted Golden Ninja Warrior statue that when combined gives the carrier a chance to reach Supreme Ninja Spirit. I.e. not vulnerable to sword strikes and the likes. Of course now the target of their former master, heading after them is Phillip Ko's character. Bringing in The Uninvited Guest of the Star Ferry, Harry employs Jaguar Wong (Jack Lam, aka Barry Lam Chi-Foo) who's asking for trouble at every corner in his hunt for one of the missing pieces of the statue while also taking on a crime syndicate headed by Tiger (Hwang Jang-Lee, in a blonde wig)...

Showing early a desire to deviate from formula and put in a smidgen more effort, Godfrey Ho provides a Japan set prologue and it, for IFD, goes on and on and on. In fact, Ho's footage as integrated into the Korean action movie is well over 20 minutes in length (normally that number is 10 minutes or so). Meaning there's actual showmanship by IFD on display and directorial effort rather than adhering 100% to set formula. Giving us a look for once at the disassembled Golden Ninja Warrior (a very flimsy prop even WHEN assembled), the subsequent energy in the opening action scenes is terrific and the stuntmen doubling for our male leads each do inspiring work for the IFD brandname. This is kickass ninja action from a unit not associated with anything worth talking about or laughing with!

And despite being a side plot to Jack Lam's, the unrelated movies are merged to a fun degree (not just through Garfield phone conversations) and over in Korea, Jack Lam portrays Jaguar Wong with such a sense of confidence that you get the feeling you're watching Korea's James Bond. Mostly quality action choreography comes out of the 1984 movie as well, with decent stuntwork and intricate, hard action (mostly impressive during the finale where Hwang Jang-Lee finally cuts loose).

Godfrey Ho was awake during Ninja Terminator and this movie showcases the most fun the team ever had. Aside from delivering in the action department with trickery such as bombs, hidden knives and suicide bombing, there's toy robots delivering death messages on VHS and training scenes involving melons. As stoic as it may feel like, Ninja Terminator finally makes the IFD mold complete. It's is one of their proudest moments as filmmakers with distance to their work and businessmen.


reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson