And You Call Yourself a AScientist!

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Ninja
NINJA III: THE DOMINATION (1984)

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"Dr Bowan, the psychiatrist you saw, says there’s nothing out of the ordinary. Aside from your exceptional extrasensory perception. And your preoccupation with Japanese culture…."

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ninjaDirector: Sam Firstenberg

Starring: Lucinda Dickey, Sho Kosugi, Jordan Bennett, David Chung, Pamela Ness, John LaMotta, Moe Mosley, Ron Foster

Screenplay: James R. Silke

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Synopsis: A Japanese man enters a cave near a golf course, where he finds a coffin-like receptacle filled with weapons, and a set of ninja robes. He changes clothes and arms himself. On the course, a group of security guards is looking for a ball lost by their employer. The ninja reveals himself, and attacks the guards, slaughtering them with his sword and throwing stars, and finally killing their employer and his female companion. The police arrive. The ninja cuts a swathe through them. Finally, a group of cops surrounds him and opens fire. One officer inspects the "body", but the ninja leaps up and kills more cops before being literally filled with bullets. Then he throws something down, and vanishes in a puff of smoke…. When the cops disperse to look for him, the ninja crawls up out of the ground and staggers away. Nearby, a telephone company technician, Christie Ryder (Lucinda Dickey), sees that someone is hurt and goes to help. The ninja grabs her, forcing her to hold his sword. Christie has a vision: the policemen firing the fatal shots, the ninja falling…. The ninja dies, leaving Christie with his sword. Later, at the police station, Christie denies knowing anything about the ninja, claiming that he was dead when she found him. A young policeman, Billy Secord (Jordan Bennett), is smitten by Christie, and tries to talk her into a date. Christie looks back at him and suddenly has a vision: Billy was one of the policemen who shot the ninja…. Brusquely, Christie rejects Billy’s offer and hurries away. At her apartment, Christie unloads her gear – and the ninja’s sword. Billy phones, but again Christie refuses a date. Billy persists, joining an aerobics class that Christie is teaching. Outside the gym, four men are harassing a young woman. Christie intervenes, and finds herself in danger. Suddenly, she explodes into action, beating up the men. Billy watches in astonishment. As Christie tries to flee the scene, he grabs her, telling her that he is arresting her; but this is merely a ploy to get her into his car. The two have an argument that becomes something else, and end up sleeping together at Christie’s place. Christie is woken by a strange wind surging through the apartment, and by mysterious glowing lights. She opens the closet where she hid the ninja’s sword. It is filled with light. The sword comes floating towards her. She grasps it, and has another vision of the dying ninja…. A one-eyed Japanese man named Yamada (Sho Kosugi) is met at the airport by three Japanese monks, who tell him that there is bad news. Billy drives out to see Christie, to tell her that he has to break their date. She sees the other policeman in his car, Case (John LaMotta), and has another vision: Case was one of those who killed the ninja. When Billy phones her later, Christie tells him that she is feeling "really weird". No sooner has she hung up than the apartment fills again with mysterious light…. Christie enters the cave by the golf course, donning ninja robes and arming herself. She makes her way to Case’s house and breaks in, attacking the policeman, and finally killing him….

Comments: You know, I was initially a bit ambivalent when "Ninjas" was selected as this Roundtable’s theme. On one hand, since I haven’t seen a lot of ninja films, I was pleased to have the opportunity of expanding my horizons. On the other, I was worried, in my ignorance, that I’d have trouble finding a film that had enough supernatural or science-y elements to qualify it for inclusion on this site. As I soon learned, my fears were ill-grounded. My search for appropriate subject matter led me through the one-two knockout punch of Born A Ninja and Ninja Commando – two martial arts films that make Kill Squad look like Citizen Kane – and the bizarre and disturbing Ninja Wars (featuring the magic of "puke fu"!). Then I watched Ninja III: The Domination, and from the moment a ninja made some guy’s gun explode by firing a blow-dart into it, I knew I’d found my film.

As it almost goes without saying, Ninja III was produced by Cannon Films. (You might recall that Cannon was also responsible for the abomination America 3000, which Keith Allison inflicted upon me during the "Secret Santa" Roundtable. I guess it’s natural that the company would be a recurrent feature of these enterprises. Let’s face it: whatever the subject matter, it’s pretty certain that there’s a Cannon film to cover it.) The company kicked off the eighties ninja craze when it released Enter The Ninja, a fair-to-middling action film almost scuppered by the wholly inappropriate casting of Franco Nero as the heroic "white ninja". And in fact, it was the film’s "black ninja" that everyone came away talking about – Sho Kosugi. His success made Cannon star him in a sequel of sorts, Revenge Of The Ninja, in which he played the traditional good guy pushed too far, and got to do copious amounts of ass-whupping. Ninja III followed swiftly, but unfortunately for Sho’s hopes of a long-term career as America’s first Asian action hero, the previous year an absurd little film called Flashdance had achieved a wholly undeserved success. Never slow to capitalise on someone else’s bright idea, Cannon rushed into production a knock-off called Breakin’ (and followed it immediately by a film sacred to all true B-movie fans: Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo). Then someone in the company truly had a brainwave: why not combine these two trends? "He’s a ninja who whups ass for a living! She teaches aerobics! They’re on a collision course to wackiness!!" Incredibly, the Cannon powers-that-be actually thought that this would be a good idea; and so poor Sho found himself co-starred with dancer-actress Lucinda Dickey, who – as my video cover chose to put it – was the STAR of BREAKIN’!! (actually, my video cover also insists that she was the STAR of FLASHDANCE, despite the IMDb’s opinion to the contrary), in a thoroughly idiotic tale of ninjas, evil spirits, and big-haired women in legwarmers, all set to some of the crappiest pop-synthesizer music it will ever be your misfortune to hear. And as if that wasn’t grotesque enough, they also stirred a healthy dollop of The Exorcist into the pot, just to top things off.

You know – sometimes I really miss the eighties….

We open on a golf course in the early morning. An Asian man enters a handy cave, where he finds an even more handy sarcophagus, filled with all the usual ninja accoutrements: swords, blow-darts, arrows, and throwing stars of all shapes and sizes; and of course, some of those cool ninja robes, which he swiftly dons. Out on the golf course, some guy is puttering around in a cart, accompanied by a female companion, and a set of bodyguards whose numbers will mysteriously increase over the next few minutes. The guy under guard plays a shot, and loses his ball, calling out for his guards to help him find it. One poor schmuck does, only to find himself confronted by our mysterious ninja. "Hey!" he exclaims indignantly, as the ninja picks up the golf ball and crushes it in one hand as easily as if had been a ping-pong ball (not surprising, considering….) And then it’s time for biffo! The ninja beats up two of the security guards. Two more charge in, pulling their guns. The first one is dispatched with a throwing star, the second, in the moment that made me fall in love with this film, has his weapon blow-darted. BLAMMO!! Still more guards come a-running, brandishing their firearms. Much good mere guns can do them, however, as the ninja mows them down with sword and throwing stars. This (finally) is the cue for the golfer and his companion to exit the scene. One slight problem: ever tried to run away from someone in a golf cart!? Yup. Our ninja catches them with one mighty bound, lifting the back wheels of the cart off the ground. The two are swiftly cut down.

Security arrives on the scene, and the police are summoned. Our ninja, who has done pretty well up to this point, chooses the somewhat puzzling evasionary tactic of standing out in the open so all the cops get a good look at him, then running right down the middle of the road instead of hiding in the bushes. Since police cars prove a bit speedier than golf carts, this isn’t entirely successful; so, turning from flight to fight, the ninja leaps onto the roof of the car, driving his sword down into one cop, and punching the other in the face. He also throwing-stars a couple of motorcycle cops. A helicopter appears. The ninja scrambles up a handy palm tree, and boards the chopper from underneath, working his way through the occupants. One poor bastard cops a throwing star launched from the ninja’s toes! The final victim clutches at his killer as he falls out of the chopper, and the two plunge into a water-trap located, conveniently enough, directly below them, while the chopper itself crashes fierily. Still more cops arrive. One of them sees a reed moving suggestively along the edge of the water, and leans in real close for a better look. Whop! Blow-dart! The ninja makes a run for it as still more cops arrive. A number of them surround him, pointing their guns at him, and a couple of them actually shoot – which has little or no effect on their victim. Tragically, we then discover that not one of these cops understands Ken’s Rule Of Guns: they all close in around their quarry in a nice tight circle, allowing him to dispatch about eight of them with one stroke of his sword. Even more cops arrive; some of them are immediately slaughtered. A handful of them, however, turn out to have enough sense to shoot from a distance, and they collectively pour about three hundred rounds into the ninja. This does, somewhat unexpectedly, have an effect: the ninja – in slow motion, of course - is hurled up and back, legs flailing, just like he’d slipped on a banana peel. Who knew that getting shot three hundred times looked like that!?

We also, in the course of the scene, get a nice clear look at each of the cops responsible for the fatal shooting – all but one, who has the light behind him. Remember this, folks: it’s significant.

The ring of cops moves slowly forward. One of them goes to inspect "the body". Surprise! The ninja isn’t dead! A couple more cops get whacked before their colleagues empty what should have been their already empty guns into the ninja, adding about another four hundred shots to the initial three hundred. And he’s still kicking! He hurls something to the ground that explodes, and vanishes in the traditional puff of smoke. Various chucklesome exclamations of "Hey!" and "Where’d he go!?" follow, until the puzzled cops decide to "split up and look for him". No sooner have they gone than the earth stirs, and the fatally wounded (yeah, you’d think!) ninja crawls out of the ground and staggers away.

And now some truly awful music starts on the soundtrack ("I got a fever runnin’ through my heart and so-oulll…!"), and it’s time to meet our heroine. Did I mention that Lucinda Dickey probably wasn’t in Flashdance, despite what the video case said? Well, we can only assume that Golan and/or Globus thought she should have been, because that give her an introductory scene that, uh, bears a passing resemblance to the revelation of Jennifer Beals’ identity in that particular work of art. We get a close up of some heavy work-boots, and thickly gloved hands strapping a pair of those pole-climbing spikes around the wearer of the boots’ ankles. Then we see the overall-ed figure skillfully climbing a telegraph pole. At the top, it pauses, and whips off its hard hat. Its shoulder-length hair flies free as it tosses its head, and the audience gasps en masse (does three people count as en masse?), "Why, it’s a girl!" Oh, yes, indeedy. Our Heroine works for her friendly neighbourhood telephone company. ("She is a linesperson for the countyyyy….") Back in the fifties, of course, women only got introductory scenes like that if they were doctors or scientists. I guess you’d call this "progress". Pausing in her work to enjoy the view (which rather improbably doesn’t include thousands of policemen, paramedics and reporters pouring onto the scene), Lucinda looks down and sees our indefatigable ninja stumbling through the bushes. Climbing down to see if she can help (and after a false scare scene involving a rabbit, there to reassure the viewer that Lucinda is Just A Girl, in spite of any competence she might have displayed), Lucinda is suddenly grabbed by the ninja, who throws her to the ground and climbs on top of her. Typical bloody male. Seven hundred bullets in his body, and he’s still only got one thing on his mind! Oh. Beg his pardon. He’s trying to strangle her. Lucinda does the old "dirt in the eyes" trick and runs away, only to stop and look back when the ninja shouts the Japanese equivalent of, "Hey, you!" I think were supposed to believe that the ninja has exerted his Awesome Powers upon Lucinda, but as it plays, we’re more likely to believe that Lucinda is a Complete Moron. We get close-ups of the ninja’s eyes (wow! – ninjas sure do wear a lot of eye makeup!), and Lucinda stumbles over and kneels before him. He holds up his sword, and she closes her hands about his, and the two share a vision – that of the ninja doing his slow motion banana peel trick. And with that, our ninja finally keels over. Lucinda is left clutching the sword, staring off into space with a blank expression on her face (I mean, you know, more so). A Mysterious Wind blows her hair back, and she has another vision, this time of the circle of cops who emptied their guns into the ninja, one of them still seen indistinctly because of the light.

And so it came to pass that a humble, hard-working county employee became possessed by the spirit of an evil ninja – or if you will, "dominated". Oh, and by the way: we never do learn what the heck that opening sequence was all about.

We then cut to a typical big city police station – typical inasmuch as the first thing we see there is a prostitute with a sour expression being hustled through the room. Lucinda is being questioned by the inevitable black lieutenant, and insisting that she can’t tell him anything, that the ninja was dead when she got there, that she didn’t see any weapons. The lieutenant, his attitude rather more casual than you’d expect, considering that about 80% of his men have just been butchered, explains patiently that, "This man murdered a very important scientist!"

WHAT!!??

Ahh, so that’s who the guy on the golf course was! But since when do mere scientists rate a dozen bodyguards, no matter how "important" they are? And really, "a very important scientist"!? Funny how scientists in films are always "important" and "famous", isn’t it? I guess it’s to make up for their utter lack of importance in real life. [*sniff*]

Anyway….

"This man murdered a very important scientist," says the lieutenant, "killed security guards, policemen….and we know nothing about him!" You know, I have my professional pride, and all, but somehow I find it hard to believe that a policeman would describe the opening events of this film in precisely that way. This speech apparently strikes a young cop standing nearby as harsh and brutal, as he wanders over and suggests, "Give her a break, Lieutenant!" He then hands Lucinda a can of Coke, the brand name, coincidentally, I’m sure, turned directly towards the camera. The lieutenant chooses to act upon his subordinate’s advice, and lets Lucinda go (!!). As he moves away, Lucinda hands the Coke back to the young cop, telling him brusquely that, "I don’t do soft drinks!" (Gee, maybe this was actually sponsored by Pepsi!?) She then walks away, and he gallops after her like an oversized (or oversexed) puppy, suggesting alternatives: "Coffee? Whiskey? A daiquiri? Pizza? Tacos? I have some candy!" He tries to whip this out of his pocket (at least, I hope that’s what he’s doing), and ends up spilling it all over the floor. Wah-wah-waahhh! Charmed in spite of herself (and in spite of all taste, intelligence and logic), Lucinda looks back at him. The light is behind him, and suddenly she freezes. She sees the slow-motion banana peel trick for a third time, then the circle of cops. Gasp! He was one of THEM!!

Lucinda comes to. She’s upset, though she can’t quite remember why, and hurries away. The cop runs after her, offering to drive her home. "Look, I don’t date cops, okay?" she snaps, unwisely pointing a finger at him. The cop grabs her hand, introduces himself as "Billy Secord" - then tries to kiss her hand. A rightly repulsed Lucinda frees herself and runs off, leaving the cop to gaze after her with his tongue lapping out of his mouth. "God, is she beautiful!" he murmurs, which carries this film deep into the realm of the Informed Attribute. I mean, Lucinda’s okay-looking, but to suggest she’s gorgeous enough to induce an instant and permanent passion is pretty damn silly. (Then again, forming an instant and permanent passion based on anyone’s looks is pretty damn silly….)

Lucinda unloads her work van outside her apartment, and we see that – gasp! shock! – she has the ninja’s sword. As per usual in movieland, her apartment is impossibly huge. It’s also decorated in a style best described as "retina-burning", and filled with objects that I’m sure were just the height of cool in 1984, including one of those huge, chunky mid-eighties video games, with which Lucinda is currently occupied. She’s changed her clothes. Did I mention that Lucinda should have been in Flashdance? Check out her qualifications: she looks absolutely stunning in one of those teeny, open-cut leotards, with an equally teeny crop-top beneath it, huge white legwarmers, and yes! – one of those twisty, across-the-forehead head bands! Lucinda’s roommate (or rather, "friend", I guess: she never reappears), who is lounging nearby on a hideously ugly couch, is similarly attired. The phone rings, and the friend beats Lucinda to it. Surprise, it’s Billy Secord! To Lucinda’s horror, her presence is confirmed, and she is forced to speak to him, brushing him off by insisting, "I’ve got an aerobics class!" (Tell me, guys: is that better or worse than, "I have to wash my hair"?) Hanging up, she wanders off to get her gear, and the other girl suddenly notices the ninja sword that’s been sitting six inches from her elbow through the whole scene. (And it is here, ladies and gentlemen, twenty-five minutes in, that we finally learn Our Heroine’s name: it’s "Christie". Well, too late, To me, she’s "Lucinda".) Lucinda snatches the sword from her friend and hides it in a closet, and the two of them set out.

Cut to the local gym, where we see that our multi-talented heroine doesn’t just do aerobics: she teaches! The camera lingers for some time on the legs and butts of Lucinda’s class, then pans across to some nearby exercise equipment, where we see that the class is being perved at by what can only be described as a Gang Of Creeps. (Classic B-movie hypocrisy: these guys are "creeps" for doing precisely what the director and the cameraman and, by extension, the audience is doing!) The camera pans back, and we ogle the girls’ butts for a while longer. Now, as you’ll have gathered, we’ve spent some time looking at Lucinda’s class, and you’d think we would have noticed if there was a man in the middle of it. Well, we haven’t seen one so far, but yup, suddenly, there he is: Billy Secord! (Strange that he seems to have no work to do, considering that about 80% of his colleagues were slaughtered that morning, and all.) Obviously, Billy’s way of attracting women is to make himself look like as big a jerk as possible at all times: "Hey, if I humiliate myself enough, she’s bound to respect me!" (Well, I’ll give him this: he’s pitching to his talents.) Billy smiles at Lucinda in a way I’m sure is meant to be "goofily charming", but which frankly made my skin crawl; and she just can’t help smiling back. (It obviously hasn’t occurred to her that he has: (i) looked up her address; (ii) driven to her home; and (iii) followed her to the gym. Or to put it another way – that he’s stalking her!) Her immediate response, however, is to turn up the heat on her class, forcing them into a frenzied burst of activity. And here it comes, my first bad-movie-Simpsons-moment, namely Homer working out at a gym secretly, and Rainier Wolfcastle helping him out by "shouting slogans at him". "Go! Go!" Lucinda cries. "C’mon, you guys! You’re doing great! Yeah! Make it burn! Make it burn!" (I guess I shouldn’t sneer. Lucinda clearly believes in "no pain, no gain", a philosophy demonstrably shared by the B-Masters Cabal; although on the whole we prefer mental suffering to physical.) This is too much for Billy, and he collapses. The class disperses, and Lucinda stands over the young cop, saying with reluctant admiration, "Not gunna quit, are you?" "I’m a stubborn kind of guy," he responds, staggering to his feet. He asks her out for coffee. She brushes him off again, but you can tell she’s starting to crack.

Lucinda leaves the gym. To her horror, the aforementioned Gang Of Creeps is hassling one of her students. In fact, they’re rather more than hassling her: they seem to be on the verge of raping her in broad daylight in front of about two dozen witnesses. Not that they’ve any need to worry about those "witnesses": these "heroes", male and female, spend the whole scene standing around in a semi-circle muttering about how terrible what those Creeps are doing is, but not lifting a finger to help. Fortunately, Lucinda has other ideas. She forces her way into the fracas, freeing the girl, who runs off, and naturally finding herself in the role of "potential victim". The Creeps push her around, threatening her with various Fates Worse Than Death. (One of the "witnesses" does voice a protest, to which one Creep responds with a casual, "Up yours!") Finally, a big, black Creep (hey, they’re E.O.!) lifts Lucinda onto some metal scaffolding. Big mistake. She springs into action. BIFF! POW! SOCKO! She kicks, she punches, she wields metal bars, she does gymnastics, she cries, "HIIII-YAH!!" (In fairness, I should mention that Ms Dickey seems to be doing most of her own stunts here – which is patently not the case later in the film.) The witnesses wave their fists in the air and shout "Hoo-ray!" while Billy gapes in blank astonishment. (Oh, and by the way: just where were you, Officer Secord, while two women were being assaulted and threatened with rape?) Having flattened the last Creep, Lucinda grabs her stuff and tries to run away, but Billy grabs her – and arrests her!

But not to worry. Turns out that "arrest" stuff was just a ploy to get her into his car. Lucinda reacts as you might suppose, calling Billy "Officer Secord" in the most insulting way. He stops the car. "You know, I am sick and tired of hearing about how you don’t like cops!" he says bitterly. Well, there’s a simple remedy for that, I would have thought, but he doesn’t take it. Instead, he continues to complain about her cold behaviour, and really, who can blame him? I mean, they’ve known each other nearly two hours; he’s humiliated himself for her twice, stalked her once, and shown her how much he loves her by arresting her; and yet she still isn’t on her back with her legs spread! What, is she frigid or something?

Tragically, no, she isn’t; and the next thing we know they’re at Lucinda’s apartment. Billy wanders around clutching a can of V8 juice, and more godawful music plays on the soundtrack. ("Baby, take a look at me/There’s something that I’ve got to know/Are you gunna take a chance with me/Or just a game of stop ‘n’ go….") Lucinda emerges from the bathroom, clad in a towel. She glides past the gaping Billy, drops the towel (she has a pair of white knickers on under it) and dons a shirt. (This is shot from behind, so you don’t see anything. Surprisingly, there are no boobs at all in this film, despite numerous opportunities. End community service announcement.) She then pushes Billy back onto her couch, straddles him, and kisses him passionately. And then---jeez, how do I describe this? She takes the can of V8 from his hand (its label, coincidentally, I’m sure, turned directly towards the camera) and – pours it over her neck and (covered) breasts.

You know - I can’t, offhand, think of anything less seductive than that….

Anyway, it seems to work on Billy. Lucinda leans back, lowering herself onto the floor and pulling Billy down on top of her. And then various activities take place.

Later, as the two lie in Lucinda’s bed, a Mysterious Wind suddenly blows through the apartment, and Unexplained Lights begin to glow. (Well, not all of them are unexplained: the apartment is decorated with neon "sculptures".) Lucinda finds herself drawn to her closet, and opens the door. The inside of it is glowing with white light, and the ninja sword is unsheathing itself. In a display of wire-work the like of which has not been seen since Plan 9 From Outer Space, the sword floats towards Lucinda. She takes hold of it. Freeze. Vision. Dying ninja. Billy finally wakes up and comes towards her, and----

EEWWWW!!!! Oh, man, this guy is HAIRY!! Woolly mammoth hairy!! ROBIN WILLIAMS hairy!! Ugh, gross!!

Anyway…. Uh, anyw…. Nnnno, I’m sorry, you’re gunna have to excuse me for a few minutes. All of a sudden, I really need some alcohol. Excuse me….

Ahhh…. [*sip, sip*] That’s better. Billy is impressed with the sword, and wants to know where Lucinda got it. "It’s Japanese," she replies, an answer which seems to satisfy the curiosity of this master detective, who sees no connection at all between the slaughter of about four dozen of his colleagues by a ninja (an event which really doesn’t seem to have bothered him much), his girlfriend’s presence on the scene, and the sword she likes to wave around in the middle of the night.

Cut to the airport. Enter Sho! Yay!! (His character is called "Yamada", but "Sho" will do.) He’s dressed very spiffily, and boasts a matching eye-patch over his left eye (like that woman in that Mexican soap opera); and he’s met by three Japanese monks. They exchange ominous greetings, and walk away, and as the camera follows them we see that Sho was apparently the only person on his flight…. Cut to Lucinda on the job. Er - I mean working. Billy pulls up in a police cruiser and tells her that he’ll have to break their date. Climbing out of a, uh, personhole, she assures him cheerfully that that’s okay – only to have the smile wiped from her face when she sees who else is in the cop car. It’s one of THEM! Freeze. Vision. Gunshots. Billy explains that he has to take "Case" home, and drives away. Lucinda leaps into her van and follows…. Later, in Lucinda’s apartment, we get another graphic demonstration of why she really should have been in Flashdance: she’s a maniac! Maniac! As she throws herself around, the phone rings. It’s Billy. Lucinda is in a state, and tells him that she feels "really weird". (So we assumed from your dancing, Lucinda.) Billy’s helpful advice is that she "wear something loose" – he’ll be home before morning. No sooner have they hung up than those Mysterious Lights reappear. Then Evil Fog explodes from the video game! (It’s "Bouncer", if you care.) Lucinda tries to run away, but the powers of the video game are too much for her: the thing swivels around, keeping her in its sights! The next moment, it’s hypnotising her with its deadly animated red beams! Then that darn sword starts glowing, and soaring (jerkily) around the apartment. Lucinda takes hold of it, and the Mysterious Lights fade…. Next thing we know, Lucinda’s in the cave by the golf course, where we discover that the Sarcophagus Of The Ninjas has somehow replenished itself. She dons those snazzy robes, and arms herself. At Case’s house, the cop is playing pool by himself. Lucinda sneaks around (I guess you could say she’s casing the joint, ha, HA!) and finally breaks in. HIIII-YAH!! Case tries to defend himself, first with a pool cue, then by chucking the balls at her. Lucinda catches one of these, crushing it with her bare hand – gee, just like the ninja! She then closes in on the unfortunate Case…. The next morning, Billy watches as Case’s body is taken away. Despite the fact that it’s barely dawn, the usual crowd of gawkers is milling around, and among them we see – Sho….

Billy goes to Lucinda’s for breakfast, and, oh, eewwww, he’s got his shirt off again! MY EYES!! MY EYES!! (Although to be fair, I should mention that he does keep his singlet on, which I guess comes under the heading of "small mercies".) Lucinda confesses that "something’s wrong": she has premonitions; blackouts; she finds objects in the apartment that she doesn’t recognise; is covered with bruises she can’t remember getting. "I feel like there’s someone making me do things I don’t want to do," she reveals. "You should do something about that," Billy responds in all seriousness. Lucinda, being possessed, and all (sorry, I mean dominated), goes through the usual Regan MacNeill barrage of medical tests, but we cut directly to the chase: her doctor telling her there’s nothing wrong with her, physically or psychologically – aside from her exceptional ESP. Oh, and her sudden interest in Japanese culture….

Lucinda goes to the police station, looking for Billy. She doesn’t find him, but she does find – one of THEM! Freeze. Vision. Gunshots. Banana peel. The cop in question is arm in arm with two, uh, ladies of doubtful virtue. (They meet him in the police station!?) The three retire to a nearby health club, where they lounge in a hot tub. Enter Lucinda, cunningly disguised as a towel girl. Drawing near, she drops her short robe (where’d she get that?) revealing a sexy black one-piece (ditto). She wades into the tub, and one of the "girls" takes exception to her presence. "Beat it, bitch!" Lucinda takes no notice, but throws herself at the cop. The two kiss passionately, while the disgruntled girls draw back and whine complaints at one another.

You know, there are a lot of bad actors in this film, but these two take the cake – and they don’t even get nekkid to justify their presence! Imagine this dialogue, if you will, delivered with a complete lack of intonation:

#1: "Let’s split."
#2: "Nah, I wanna watch."
#1: "This guy is a real jerk."
#2: "Boy, you said it."

At this point, while still kissing the cop, Lucinda unsheathes a poison spike from within her ring, and presses it into the back of her victim’s shoulder. He bucks and moans, but she keeps kissing him.

#1: "Let’s get outta here."
#2: "What’s she doing to him?"
#1: "I don’t know, but the bastard sure seems to be enjoying it, doesn’t he?"

The cop collapses in convulsions, alerting these two Einsteins to the fact that something actually is wrong. Too late for them! Lucinda "rings" #1, and strangles #2 with her own hair. Some time later, Sho wanders in. (Great health club, this. No other customers, and apparently no staff, either). He crouches beside the hot tub, and wipes some blood off #1’s body with his finger tips – a good trick, since it’s been lying in a bubbling hot tub for the past hour or so. Billy enters Lucinda’s apartment, She’s working out (and giving us another demonstration of why---well, you know!), and doesn’t seem to hear him even when – thank you, Billy! – he shuts off the music. He shakes her, and she comes to, telling him that she "tries to fight it" but doesn’t know what "it" is. "There’s an officer in the Asiatic Division (!?)," Billy says reluctantly. "He tells me there’s a guy downtown the local Japanese swear by…."

"It is wise of you to come, oh young ones!" pronounces the guy in question, as Billy "crosses his palm". He takes the two of them into his back room, and insists on chaining Lucinda up between two poles, wrists and waist, "in case the spirit gets angry". He then makes her smoke a pipe, and begins to chant as he sounds a gong. The Mysterious Wind makes an appearance, and so does the spirit – and whaddya know: it is angry! Or at any rate, Lucinda’s suddenly speaking with re-verb, and shouting "Fool!" a lot. She then breaks into Japanese, which goes on for some time, sans subtitles. (I dunno – maybe she’s telling the spiritualist that his mother %#&@% &!&@% in hell. I need Nathan or Keith to help me out here….) The spiritualist backs away, having bitten off rather more than he can chew: seems he can contact spirits, but he ain’t so hot on the whole "exorcism" trip. As he and Billy argue, Lucinda tears her wrists free, snarling and howling the while. Billy leaps in and tries to tie her up. She responds with more cackling and howling, and by levitating the spiritualist. She then, uh, spins.

I’m not sure words can convey how dumb this looks, but I’ll try. Remember I told you Lucinda was chained around her waist? Well, she starts rotating forward in a kind of perpetual somersault. Why? Who knows? (Well, okay, because Linda Blair spun her head in The Exorcist, if you want to get technical.) The model (or should I say dummy) work is really obvious here, and not at all disguised by the dubbing in of Lucinda’s own voice: "Billy, help me!" She finally stops, announces (re-verbally) "Nothing can stop me!" and passes out. The spiritualist breaks the bad news that she is "possessed by a Black Ninja!" and further informs Billy that "only a ninja can kill another ninja!" I guess he means spiritually, because those seven hundred bullets did finally work, after all.

Sho, coincidentally enough, is busy breaking into the morgue where what’s left of the Black Ninja is lying. This enterprise requires him to beat up three security guards, two cops, and a couple of morgue attendants. All in a day’s work, I guess. (We notice that Sho’s throwing stars bounce off – I guess because he’s a "good ninja".) Sho examines his rival’s body, and – cue flashback! We see Sho held prisoner while the Black Ninja murders an old man – Sho’s father, we assume. The ninja follows this up by hurling a throwing star into Sho’s left eye – and laughing! The bastard! Anyway, so much for backstory. Sho grabs the ninja’s body and takes it to a temple located conveniently on a nearby rocky outcrop. Meanwhile, Lucinda is sitting on Billy’s desk, trying to get him to tell her what happened with the spiritualist. We see that Billy seems to have been promoted from the Uniformed to the Plain Clothes Division – and all it took was the slaughter of most of his co-workers. Two still-uniformed cops wander up (if I were them, I would be really pissed that this dork got promoted over me) – and yes! - they’re two more of THEM! Freeze. Vision. Gunshots. Banana peel. "I know the lady’s beautiful [sic.]," one of the cops says to Billy, "but don’t forget the funeral." "Yeah, I’ll try to make it," Billy replies offhandedly, obviously deeply anguished by the bloody deaths of his friends and colleagues. "Anything new?" "There’s speculation that the killings are linked to that professional assassin we wasted at the golf course last week," replies the second cop, helpfully reviewing events just in case they’ve slipped Billy’s mind – which, from his attitude, they may well have done. This cop, too, seems remarkably unconcerned, seeing that the people involved in killing the ninja are being knocked off, one by one. The second cop breaks the news that the ninja’s body has been stolen. You know – I’m really impressed with the way these guys discuss their case in front of their only witness….

Lucinda is relaxing in her apartment when it suddenly comes to life. The table rocks. The blinds drop. The exhaust fan thingy on top of the fridge starts to spin (making the whole thing look oddly like the TARDIS). The bin lid flaps. Spooky! Suddenly, the cupboard under the sink flies open, and that Evil Foggy Light pours out. "No, you don’t! Not again!" cries Lucinda, and slams the cupboard doors. That fixed it! Lucinda tries to run into her bedroom, but the EFL is in there too! – so instead she lies down on the couch. How dramatic. The blinds drop (hang on, I thought they already did!?), a light glows and explodes, locker doors open and shut, and the fridge (with the thingy on top still spinning) suddenly charges across the apartment to block the door. Chattering, laughing voices fill the air. Lucinda reaches for the phone, but it leaps from her grasp. The doors of the closet where the sword is kept fly open, and more EFL pours out, as does the Mysterious Wind. Lucinda struggles against it, forcing the doors closed---

---and then she makes her final, defiant stand; proving, as if anyone still doubted it, that she really, really should have been in Flashdance: she turns on some music and makes a gallant attempt to exorcise her invading spirit - by dancing! (Wow – she really is a maniac! Or at least a complete doofus.) The sword comes hurtling out of the closet, and for a moment Lucinda seems doomed. But, no! – the sword has other ideas: it smashes Lucinda’s sound-system. YES!! The Mysterious Wind then picks up, and Lucinda, along with a number of her possessions, is swept along the floor and into the closet in a scene that is in no way reminiscent of what happened to Sigourney Weaver in Ghostbusters, honestly.

Billy does make it to the funeral, but we see that he hasn’t bothered to put on his dress uniform, or anything. And he’s late. What a class act. Outside the cemetery, he finds Lucinda’s van, a throwing star on the front seat. Sure enough, ninja girl is lurking in the bushes, all robed up. She climbs a tree near to where the service is being conducted. In the middle of the twenty-one gun salute, Lucinda shoots an arrow. THUNK!! One less of THEM. A wild panic breaks out, as these hardened professionals stampede around, and basically start firing at random into the air. Lucinda shoots another arrow, but hits the wrong cop. Rats! Third time’s the charm, though. THUNK!! Lucinda climbs down a rope, and takes out a couple of motorcycle cops for good measure. She then runs away – down the middle of the road, naturally – while another cop fires at her from a pursuing car. She leaps up into a tree, but the cop shoots the branch she’s hanging onto (accidentally, of course), so she drops onto the car. She beats up its occupants and runs away. One cop pursues her back into the graveyard, and attacks with his baton. He misses her and hits a headstone, which promptly disintegrates. Again this film challenges Plan 9! A whole garrison of cops now descends upon Lucinda, but fortunately for her, none of them are carrying guns. A general melee ensues, with Lucinda kicking some impressive butt, crying "HIIII-YAH!!" all the while. One cop is sent flying into another headstone, which also crumbles into powder. A few cops finally do arrive carrying guns, but they’re lousy shots anyway, so why did they bother? Lucinda evades them and seems to have made her escape when – she comes face to face with Sho!

Lucinda takes off, doing a flying leap somersault over a barbed wire-topped wire fence. Sho follows suit, only stopping to lay his jacket over the barbed wire first. Huh! What a wuss! The two run into a house which is either abandoned, or only half-built, or half-built and abandoned, and an enjoyable game of cat and mouse follows, with lots of sword flailing, even more kicking, and numerous cries of "YAAH!!" Sho gets a shard of wood embedded in his gut at one point, but he doesn’t let a little thing like that slow him down. Finally, they face off, Lucinda with a sword, Sho with his bare hands. Naturally, he wins. He disarms her, then rips off her hood. At that moment, the cops arrive, sirens blaring. Sho hesitates, then lets Lucinda go before surrendering himself.

Now, you might be wondering where Billy’s been all this time. I know I was. He does finally arrive on the scene, pulling up in his little sports car. (Behind him, we see Lucinda’s "Metro Telephone" van drive off.) Billy sees Sho being handcuffed. Puzzled – knowing what he knows, and all – he asks to speak to Sho, and slides into the car beside him. "I was waiting for you," Sho says without preamble. The two agree to join forces. Sho tells Billy that he must bring "the sword and the girl" to "the old temple on the hill", that he will meet them there. Billy casts a doubtful look at his handcuffs. "Don’t worry," says Sho with a smirk. Sure enough, as he’s driven away, he has a "coughing fit". With his hands over his face, he manages to pull a tiny blow dart from under his eye-patch. Heh, cool! Exit Cop 1. Cop 2 gets a poisoned jab, and Cop 3 (lucky boy) just gets beaten up. At the apartment, Billy enters with his gun in hand. He opens the cupboard and is looking at the sword (just grab it, you dork!) when Lucinda appears. He points his gun at her. "You did it, Christie!" he chokes. "They’re all dead! I saw everything!" Well – nice to know he had a good view from that safe distance of his. Billy produces some handcuffs. Hurt and bewildered, Lucinda whispers, "I love you!" Then--- Freeze. Vision. Gasp! He’s ONE OF THEM!! Unfortunately for Billy, in his eagerness to get the cuffs on his girlfriend (no worse than a V8 fetish, really), he’s also forgotten Ken’s Rule Of Guns. Lucinda disarms him and knocks him down, then grabs the sword. "Christie, no!" whimpers Billy as she moves towards him. Christie, YES!! DO IT!! DO IT!! DO IT!! And she does----

----only to pull up an inch short. Dammit. Snatching up the rest of her gear, Lucinda takes the sword and runs. Billy chases her. You’d think a sports car could catch a telephone company van, wouldn’t you? Well, it would have, except that along with all his other talents, Billy is a crap driver; so he crashes. Meanwhile, Sho is at the "old temple", where a group of monks are training. Lucinda also shows up. When she enters, she finds Something covered in sheets of red silk: it is the body of her ninja. Enter Sho. Lucinda pleads for his help. He explains that he has to force the spirit out of her, so that it will re-enter its original body, where it can be killed. Failing that---well, he’ll have to kill her. Fair enough, agrees Lucinda, and they get to it. Surprise, surprise, "forcing the spirit out" involves the two of them whacking at each other with swords. Sho quickly gets the upper hand, and reflects light from his sword into Lucinda’s eyes. She faints, her body glows, and the "spirit" leaves her, re-entering its original body and reanimating it. And the fight’s on again! Sho eventually cuts his adversary, who retaliates with a howl that makes all the monks in the temple cry out in pain, covering their ears. The Black Ninja also unleashes an (animated) fireball, which engulfs some of the monks. Next thing we know, they’re possessed! They grab some of those pike-y things and attack Sho in a group. Naturally, the result is some severe monk-whupping. At one point, Sho ends up fighting while standing on what looks like a gymnastics beam. (Where’s 1984 Olympic Gold Medal Gymnast Kurt Thomas when you need him?) And in fact, this whole temple is filled with gym-like equipment (?), and a chase over some climbing nets follows. Sho ends up cornered, and must disperse the remaining monks with a smoke bomb.

And then Billy shows up, too late to be of any use, as usual. He finds the unconscious Lucinda, and pulls off her hood. The prominent black eye she’s been sporting through the past few scenes has completely vanished, so I guess that means she’s not "dominated" any more. The two get all smoochy. Meanwhile, Sho and the Black Ninja are battling to the death on the cliffs that surround the temple. Sho is disarmed, and must evade his enemy, finally resorting to catching his sword between his hands. Billy and Lucinda see this. Billy goes to shoot the Black Ninja, but Lucinda stops him. The next instant, Sho sends the Black Ninja’s sword flying through the air. It lands neatly at Lucinda’s feet, and without hesitation, she picks it up and charges. HIIII-YAH!! Black Ninja shish-kebob!

Howling, the Black Ninja puts his fingertips together and spins, drilling himself into the ground. The next moment – earthquake! Sho throws his grappling hook at a nearby tree, and just as well, because the ground beneath his feet splits open and he plunges down the crevasse, dangling on a rope. As he struggles to climb up the rock face, Billy and Lucinda run over, then stare down at him without lifting a finger to help. Suddenly, the Black Ninja reappears! He attacks Sho from beneath, pulling at his legs. Sho frees one hand and pulls out a knife, which he slams into the top of the Black Ninja’s skull. And that, finally, is that. Billy and Lucinda both make "eewww" faces, even though they couldn’t possibly have seen what happened from where they were standing. They draw near to the edge and watch Sho climbing up, again without attempting to help. Sho brushes himself off, exchanges a significant look with Lucinda, and strides off into the sunset. Really. And then Billy and Lucinda fall into each other’s arms and get smoochy all over again. And I start making "eewww" faces of my own. The End.

ninja
"My mother does WHAT!?"

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