From 1980 until 1990, Godfrey Ho was one of Hong Kong’s most prolific Directors. Nicknamed the “Ed Wood” of Hong Kong, Godfrey Ho’s career consisted of low budget action films made by cutting scenes from an already existing movie and splicing them with ‘new’ scenes filmed by Ho himself (usually involving stunt-man Richard Harrison); then Godfrey Ho would re-dub all the scenes to try and create some semblance of an overarching plot, then sell the resulting film to a western audience. Godfrey Ho used this technique this to make over 80 films between 1980 and 1990, most films containing the word ninja in the title. In the end, most Godfrey Ho films were like trying to watch two films at once, and not caring about wither of them. Ninja Dragon is a prime example of Godfrey Ho’s ‘cut and paste’ technique, splicing new scenes of Richard Harrison as a camouflage-toting ninja over an already existing Taiwanese Triad film called Dark Trap.
Suffice to say, the ‘cut and paste’ technique is never going to lead to a well made film, as most of the film already exists and has nothing to do with the new footage that has been spliced over it. However, Godfrey Ho made a big mistake with the making of Ninja Dragon: Dark Trap was originally a serious thriller film, and thus the splicing of Dark Trap with ridiculously over-the-top ninja fight scenes is a very jarring experience as a viewer because the tone is very unfocused. Not to mention that Dark Trap was a suspense film, not an action film, so most of the resulting Ninja Dragon consists of poorly dubbed dialogue trying it’s best to explain a plot that cannot be easily explained. As the writer of the project, one would think that Godfrey Ho could have done better as when you re-dub and re-use old footage, you can create any story you want with any character you want to focus on, but one viewing of Ninja Dragon proves that Godfrey Ho isn’t even a good writer. Throughout Ninja Dragon, the dialogue is uninteresting, characters are poorly defined and in the end, the story barely makes sense.
Not to say everything included in Ninja Dragon is completely terrible, the ninja fight sequences involving Richard Harrison are quite well choreographed and entertaining: they’re ridiculously over-the-top, video game style sequences with fighters having “ninja” abilities like summoning smoke and teleportation; as far as fight scenes go, they’re very entertaining to watch, it’s just a shame that this was wasted on a failed attempt at a serious story line by mixing these ridiculous ninja scenes with the plot of a serious thriller. Aside from that, nothing else really stands out about Ninja Dragon, the film is a victim of it’s own ‘cut and paste’ technique.
When all is said and done, I feel that I would have had a better time watching the original Dark Trap film instead of watching Ninja Dragon. All that watching Ninja Dragon has done has made me want to watch the original film. Dark Trap looks like it may have actually been a good film, but it’s ruined with Godfrey Ho’s splicing in of unnecessary ninja fight scenes. However, I’m not wholly against a “cut and paste” film, that type of film has the potential to be reasonably entertaining (for example: Shogun Assassin, a ‘cut and paste’ remake of the first two Lone Wolf and Cub films), but it has to be done with creativity and precision, neither of which were applied to Ninja Dragon. It may be interesting to look at the career of the infamous Godfrey Ho, but in the end, Ninja Dragon isn’t really worth watching.