Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Ninja the Protector (1986), by Godfrey Ho

Oh my God, our first Godfrey Ho movie! There's no time do an intro now! Just understand that Godfrey Ho is that guy who made over 130 utterly cheap, utterly crazy ninja movies throughout the later end of the 20th Century. This is one of the ones he did with sword 'n' sandal superstar Richard Harrison, who appeared in many Ho movies as "Ninja Master Gordon." As ever, Godfrey Ho promises us NONSTOP NINJA ACTION, and as ever, he delivers on it. Ninja the Protector's started without us, let's go!

A gangster named Bruce runs several different crime operations, including a counterfeiting ring, and Gordon and his white-dude operatives face him down. They are confused by the track-suit dressed men who engage them in challenges of martial arts, but learn from one of them that they are "Ninjas." "What's a Ninja?" they ask Gordon. "Ha, ha, ha. Just a fairy tale," he replies. Meanwhile, in Plot B, a salesman works his way up the company, fucking his boss on the beach and failing to protect her from getting raped. This movie incidentally contains what is probably the most tasteless jump cut I've ever seen, wherein we cut from a rape scene to an office where two men are talking with Gordon in front of a poster showing a bound and gagged woman that says "It could happen to you." Full apologies: it's a little disturbing. Just lose yourself in Plot A, with its irreversibly silly ninja battles--after all, that's what people come to a Godfrey Ho movie for, right?

Now that we've caught our breath a little, I can do some 'splaining: this Plot A and Plot B stuff is a reference to the fact that most of Ho's movies, even ones as short as the 67-minute-long Ninja the Protector, are usually made of two older movies that Ho acquired that he sewed together using dubbing. Usually the characters in the two movies would establish the connection by calling each other on the phone, possibly even though a phone that looks like Garfield the Cat. It's a technique that inspired my linking of the two novellas in my book Tail of the Lizard King. In this case, Plot A is made up of footage with Harrison and Ho's other white actors, while Plot B, connected as always by a phone call, is an old Asian film, in this case a drama or rape-revenge thriller of some kind, with the crooks in B being stated to be the goons of the ninjas.

All throughout we encounter other Godfrey Ho tropes, including groups of criminals all independently unleashing a chorus of "Heh, heh, heh, heh"'s. Godfrey Ho makes being a criminal look fun! Plus, the dubs will make you pine for the fjords of Godzilla vs. Megalon. I have unfortunately become desensitized, but if you are alien to the world of Ho, you will be reborn in a new image. Cheapness is the name of the game here, and it permeates deep.

Ninja the Protector is not without flaws. Like almost all of Ho's films, even the action gets tiresome at some point. There are no characters to really latch onto, though I suppose the Plot B romance is okay and sad and the banter between Gordon and the other Plot A commandos about whether or not ninjas exist is pretty hilarious, though perhaps not for the reasons intended. These are moments incidental to the characters, however. Ho has a talent for animating cardboard, but he can't make it flesh. Usually the only emotion that his characters make us feel is testosterone during the fight scenes, which do drag on. This lack of depth makes the rape scenes, of which there appear to be two, even more tasteless than before, because of the lack of effort that could be afforded to it. But if you need to fill an hour, and maybe want to open yourself up to a new world in that time, check it out. Let the excitement power you through the day. 

No comments:

Post a Comment