Bullet Points: 9 Deaths of the Ninja
In this installment of Bullet Points, we take a look at the Sho Kosugi film, Nine Deaths of the Ninja.
Kosugi, in my opinion, is one of the unsung heroes of 80’s action films. Considering you had Arnold, Sly, Chuck Norris and Charles Bronson running strong through out the decade and the rise of Bruce Willis, JCVD and Seagal as the 80’s came to a close, it is easy to see how the soft spoken Sho Kosugi could get lost in the shuffle.
- Meet Your Heroes: This movie wastes no time getting into some action. We happen upon our anti-terrorist heroes, Spike Shinobi (Kosugi) and Steve Gordon, played by Brent Huff (You may remember Huff from The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of Yik Yak or Strike Commando 2) as they participate in a training exercise. We learn that Spike, like Kojak before him, has a love for lollipops and we hear Gordon utter the line “Time to do a little dancing.” Although we are immediately let down/relieved (depending on your point of view) as there is no dancing. There is however a blonde communications expert, Jennifer Barnes (Emilia Crow) who assists Spike and Steve on their missions.
- Opening Credits: We now get into the opening credits sequence… the dancing that Steve was talking about pops up here in what appears to have been a video designed to sell someone on the idea of Ninja: The Musical. Kosugi shows off his sword skills why some female dancers do some sort of interpretive dance. You’ll feel like you’ve died nine times while watching. I’ll save you some time right now by informing you the title song “Take Me High” by Ivy Violan is not available on iTunes.
- Enter the Villains: Nine Deaths of the Ninja provides some of the most unique villain names in cinematic history. We have Col. Honey Hump (Regina Richardson), Woo Pee and Woo Wee (both played by Judy Wilson), Bruce Fanger as Dr. Wolf (he likes to open people up to see what they had for breakfast even though asking them would be easier) and the mastermind behind it all Alby the Cruel who is played by the uniquely named, Blackie Dammett.
- The Evil Plot: Alby and Honey Hump (along with her lesbian army) take a a bus full of tourists hostage in Manila. Their reason for doing this is they want to get their buddy Rahji the Butcher out of prison and they want all of those pesky DEA agents from America out of Southeast Asia.
- Nepotism: The real life sons of Sho Kosugi, Kane and Shane, play two of the hostages. This is a trend that began with Revenge of the Ninja and continued with Pray for Death and Black Eagle.While not the best actors in the world they are better than Sage Stallone. Also, Vijay Amritraj, who plays the slightly perverted Rankin in the film, is the brother of the film’s producer Ashok Amritraj.
- Thrilla in Manila: Spike and Steve bring their anti-terrorist skills to Manila and are ready to thwart the evil plans of Alby the Cruel. Spike and Steve are in hot pursuit of the released Rahji the Butcher. The pursuit involves cars, a horse drawn carriage, a boat and even a helicopter. Spike does make a pit stop at Woo Wee’s House of Heavenly Pleasure, where he requests a clean girl with no clap. Woo Wee assures him that all her girls are “sterilized, sanitized and lobotomized”.
- Ninja Flashback: As we ramp up to the movies finale, Spike is confronted by some black ninjas. Now these ninjas are so good at being ninja like that I didn’t see them, unless they are the same ninjas from a Spike flashback that takes place early on in the movie. But if that’s the case, I’m not sure how they are connected with Alby the Cruel. Anyway, you watch Sho Kosugi movies for ninja action and this gives fans a little more ninja action!
This movie is not one of Kosugi’s better efforts, I think Revenge of the Ninja and Pray For Death are his best movies, but as a fan I felt it was worth giving Nine Deaths of the Ninja a chance. This to me is a “one and done” sort of movie and not one with a high rewatchability factor.
But if you are a fan of Kosugi’s work and you’ve never seen this one, you should check it out. But before I go some final things to look for while watching…
- When Little People Attack: If you ever had the desire to see Sho Kosugi battle a group of midgets then this is the film for you.
- Honey Hump’s Way with Words: “You shoot me and my girls will snuff your monkey ass.”
- Throwing Stars: As a kid in the 80’s I’m not afraid to admit I was a huge fan of throwing stars and you’ll get some throwing star action in this movie including one to the eye!
- Radio Handles: Spike uses the appropriate “Lollipop” as his radio handle, while Steve goes with “Macho Man”. Steve you deserve a top rope elbow drop from Randy Savage for desecrating such a fantastic nickname. Dig it?