Bullet Points: Five Element Ninjas
Having each monday in the month of December dedicated to ninjas is kinda crazy. We know this and we saved some of the craziest shit for last! Here before you is one of my favorite ninja movies of all time, Five Element Ninjas! It is so batshit crazy that you’ll want to buy a bunch of throwing stars online and wing them at your next door neighbor while they’re getting their mail (sorry Bill). You’ll notice that the below poster shows a different name and I’d like to think that is because they were so impressed with the final product of this movie they couldn’t come up with just one title to fit it so they dropped multiple ones on the viewing public. Whatever you do, find this movie and watch it. It’s as easy as going to Youtube to watch it which you can do in the bathroom at work so you can get paid to watch ninjas fighting.Or you can find it on Amazon.There is a newly remastered edition which is so awesome I nun-chucked my brother in his eyeball and he missed work for three days.
The Gist: Two warring clans challenge one another to a tournament involving their best fighters. One clan loses heavily, and in revenge employs the services of the Five Element Ninjas, whose fighting styles are based on the five Chinese elements (gold, wood, water, fire, and earth). The ninjas defeat the clan and massacre its members. Only one fighter is able to escape the melee. After escaping, Shao Tien-hao (Cheng Tien Chi) seeks the help of an elderly Ninjitsu master and along with his new brothers, challenges the Five Element Ninjas to a fight to the death.
Luckily they took this picture before the big spaghetti dinner.
The Cast: I wasn’t familiar with Cheng Tien Chi before this movie and although he kinda resembles my mom’s early 90’s glamour shots, he was pretty badass. He also starred in a movie called The Mystery of Chess Boxing which sounds ridiculous, was on a WU TANG album, and will now have to go on my watch list. The movie was a Shaw Brothers Production and directed by Chang Che who made almost 100 movies over a 43 period. Now that is some staying power. Seeing as how Chang was already in his sixties when he made Five Element Ninjas, there is a surprising amount of energy and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The other members of the “White Cape Clan” do very little except for Li Wang who gets some screen time but doesn’t have nearly the same level of 90’s bangs as Tien-chi Cheng.
Cheng’s Kung Fu is very impressive, as is the volume in his hair.
The Villain: I don’t remember hearing a name for the Japanese leader of the ninjas but it’s possible that I missed it over the sounds of me marking out to some amazing ninja battles! The villain is predictably evil when you most expect and pretty hardcore when it comes to the fights in the finale. We do get one female in the cast as she is sent to spy on the good guys and like all women; she eventually melts to the irresistible charm/hair of Cheng Tien Chi. Each elemental ninja group is awesomely devoted to their craft. The Gold Ninjas refuse to wear anything but giant shiny hats; the Water Ninjas serve no purpose on land, which is the domain of the soil-dwelling Earth Ninjas. The Fire Ninjas wear all red and blind their enemies with an assortment of smoke bombs and roman candles that they bought along the highway. The Wood Ninjas were probably my favorite as they just hang out in hollowed out trees and bear hug the shit out of people with claws strapped to their palms. The fact that all of these different ninjas can operate under the same banner says a lot about the leadership and it’s nice to see a ninja clan diversify a little bit compared to the usual all black clans. It’s about time, welcome to the 21st century ninjas.
This new Revlon advertisement is pretty sweet.
The Action: If you enjoy endless martial arts battles, ninjas having their arms and legs ripped off, a man tripping over his own entrails, or color-coordinated Kung Fu clans than you need to see this film. It has all of that and more. I haven’t seen nearly as many Shaw Brothers movies as some people and I’ve read many a comment that claims this is one of their best. There are quite of few fight scenes and just when you start to think that they’re running too long someone dies a horrible and unexpected death and you find yourself enjoying the insanity again. I found this movie on Youtube but apparently there is a “Tokyo Shock” version out there that from the screen shots looks to be about 400 times better looking than the version that I saw so if you are a collector of awesome martial arts movies check it out.
Their cheer team went all the way to state that year.
Take it Home:
- Favorite quote: “I’ll avenge your death!” other guy “I’m not dead yet!”
- I believe him: There is a narrator at the beginning who states that all of the weapons are based on real ninja’s weapons. Hopefully somewhere a ninja is still hiding inside a hollowed out tree just waiting on some poor soul to get close enough to kill.
- Life lessons: If you can’t trust mercenary ninjas then who can you trust?
- Beer count: I suggest bringing a 12 pack to this party!