Sunday, March 8, 2009

Cut-n-Paste Fu

Ninja Squad (1987)

How have I lived this long, and seen so many other movies, but never seen a Godfrey Ho movie? Some quick checking on Wikipedia and IMDb tells me that Ho is a Z-grade movie “auteur” – he buys ultra-cheap chop-socky movies from places like the Philippines, Hong Kong and Thailand, then shoots new scenes with Caucasian actors (for easier selling in overseas markets), often using former B-movie actor Richard Harrison. Oh, and according to Wiki, 40 of his films contain the word “ninja” in the title. Once Ho’s cut-and-pasted his movie together, he completely re-dubs it, supposedly to make it more coherent, but I ain’t buying that. Ho’s dubbing could go up against that of any old Godzilla movie or cheesy Hong Kong kung fu flick and win hands down. It’s that bad and that wacky, with a panoply of accents, deliveries and inflections.

Here’s the plot, not that you were that interested, or that it really even matters here: Billy, who is Thai, but has an Aussie accent, has returned to his shit-hole Thai slum home after spending time at Ninja School with Gordon the Ninja Master (Richard Harrison). (“Ninja School?” Is that a four-year university or a community college, and what sort of SATs do you need to get in?) The shots at ninja school are among the new footage as they are often done in long shots at different locations (with different film stocks and lighting!) so you can’t see the actors faces, or when they shoot closer in, the actors’ faces are covered by their ninja hoodies. Billy’s bombed out-looking concrete shit-hole is being overrun by gangs. Billy kicks their asses, so they kill his mom and kidnap his sister. Apparently the gang works for Ivan the Red, a rival ninja to Gordon the Master. I say apparently because I really couldn’t be bothered to fully follow the plot of this dim-witted thing.

Gordon the Ninja Master wears a partially-padded white and purple get up. And his headband reads, “Ninja” so you KNOW he’s the real deal. In fact, ALL the ninjas wear headbands that read, “Ninja.” (Was there a sale on these things?) Ivan the Red is kind of a misnomer as his ninja jammies are red and gold. The gold, being the accent color, has a pronounced sparkle to it, leading me to believe he cannibalized his old Ice Capades uniform to make it. Ninjas are supposed to be stealthy, which is why they normally wear black, but as all the ninjas in this movie wear bright colors, it leads me to believe they were designed to attack during Mardi Gras, or some other brightly colored parade or event.

The movie follows Billy in Thailand, then occasionally cuts to Gordon alone elsewhere getting “messages” in the form of various colored headbands that Ivan the Red sends him to indicate he’s whacked some other day-glo ninja (Gordon’s old students, I guess) in the movie’s other newly filmed sequences. SPOILER: It ends in the stupidest way possible with Billy dying in his Thai shit-hole and Gordon fighting and killing Ivan, then Gordon does a back flip and disappears into thin air. W.T.F.

That wacky dubbing I mentioned earlier? Well, here’s a sample: Billy’s Thai girlfriend, who like the rest of the lot, has an American accent, tells him, “I don’t think that your ninja skills are going to help you find a job.” Sound career advice there. The girl’s Caucasian “dad,” who is sort of a police captain trying to fight off the gangs, has these lines: “What’s the sense of getting new men? They all come from college these days. They can’t fight; all they can do is write reports.” Here’s the greatest line in the whole thing, transcribed as best as I can, “spoken” to Billy in a breathless manner by a woman after her purse has been snatched by the gang: “Over there please somebody robbed me over there if you could help me I’d appreciate over there they just took my bag please help me please.” And she says this in a Southern accent that sounds like it was coached by Foghorn Leghorn.

I’ll leave you with this nugget: a squad is at least two people acting as a team or unit. A police squad car is manned by two cops. An army squad can as small as two soliders. In “Ninja Squad” we never see Billy and Gordon fight together (they only trained together at ninja school). So we have a Ninja Squad that is not even a squad. And that’s the beauty of Godfrey Ho, master of the Z-movie.


  1. I actually saw Ninja Squad a while back, Thanks for letting me know the plot. You paid closer attention than I managed to.

  2. It was the constant reuse of the same "thwacking" sound effect over and over again for the ninja swords that kept me awake and somewhat alert/pissed off. (We here at BNFOS are into full disclosure of our movie viewing conditions.)