Ninja Terminator (1985)

Ninja Terminator (1985)

Ninja Terminator is another ‘cut and paste’ film by the ‘Ed Wood’ of Hong Kong: Godfrey Ho. This time, Godfrey Ho splices footage of ninja Richard Harrison with footage from a Korean kung-fu action film called The Uninvited Guest Of The Star Ferry and, unlike Ninja Dragon, Ninja Terminator has had more creativity and precision put into it’s conception. In fact, over the years, Ninja Terminator is remembered as possibly Godfrey Ho’s greatest ninja film. However, in the career of Godfrey Ho, that’s not really saying much.

However, on the bright side, choosing to splice ninja footage with The Uninvited Guest Of The Star Ferry was a much better choice than choosing Dark Trap to make Ninja Dragon. The Uninvited Guest Of The Star Ferry is a visually comedic and well choreographed kung-fu film, so when the scenes transfer between the re-used footage and the ‘new’ footage shot by Godfrey Ho, the effect isn’t completely jarring as the tone stays relatively similar. Also, the over-arching plot is one that’s relatively simple to follow: the theft of an ancient statue stolen by three ninja masters leads to a search for the missing body of the statue when one of the three ninjas is assassinated. The plot is surprisingly easy to follow, or at least easy to follow when compared to other Godfrey Ho films; as a viewer, it still feels like watching two films simultaneously, but this time, they’re somewhat coherent.

In comparison to Ninja Dragon, Godfrey Ho recorded a lot more original footage to incorporate into Ninja Terminator which is a welcome change after watching Ninja Dragon, where 80% of the film came from Dark Trap. Ninja Terminator feels like it contains 60% of footage from The Uninvited Guest From Star Ferry, and 40% ‘new’ footage. This ‘new’ footage is entertainingly strange, action packed, and actually focuses on the characters instead of just being an excuse to move quickly to the next scene of re-used footage. Also, in my opinion, the ‘new’ fight scenes in Ninja Terminator are even more exciting than the ones used in Ninja Dragon because there’s more crazy ninja action on display when it comes to sword-fights and video game style ‘ninja abilities’: fire throwing, smoke bombs and even ‘ninja invulnerability’. That being said though, Ninja Terminator is far from being called a good film: the writing is terrible, the dubbing is horrific, and the film’s most memorable moments come from the existing film that the ‘new’ footage was spliced onto. Ninja Terminator makes The Uninvited Guest Of the Star Ferry look like a really good film, but it’s ruined by having Godfrey Ho’s unnecessary ninja footage incorporated into it. I feel that there could have been a lot of potential with Ninja Terminator because the two separate films incorporated in Ninja Terminator are very similar in tone, each with entertaining action scenes and unintentional comedy, but Ninja Terminator is just too lacking when it comes to creative development and cinematic competency, and thus fails to be a good film.

Although Ninja Terminator was more entertaining to watch than Ninja Dragon, once again, I felt like I could have had a much better time watching the original The Uninvited Guest Of Star Ferry instead of Godfrey Ho’s unnecessary ‘remake’. Godfrey Ho’s ninja footage in itself is entertaining, but it feels unnecessary when it’s spliced over any other film. In the end, I wouldn’t say that Ninja Terminator is recommended viewing, the film has too much wasted potential. Although, one thing I would like to see, is if someone took the Richard Harrison footage from Godfrey Ho’s films, spliced it together, re-dubbed it, and created a whole new film. There’s a lot of potential there because I noticed how the Richard Harrison ninja scenes feel so similar in these two different films: Richard Harrison always wears the same camouflage shozoku and always fights ninjas in red. I think that splicing together this footage in a new movie could be very entertaining to watch on it’s own.

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