Born a Ninja, die a Ninja!
In the eighties, Ninjas
were one of the biggest hypes, making not only thousands of young boys fascinated of weird men in pyjama pants fighting pseudo-kung-fu, but - and that's important - also got many people to buy VHSs they would have otherwise rejected, just because they included abovementioned weird men in pajama pants
This moved the movie industry to create legendary works like the American Ninja quadrilogy or the unforgettable movies with Sho Kosugi, all of which became B-movies still praised today by cineasts all over the world. But one man went a step further...
Godfrey Ho (alias Benny Ho, Tommy Cheung, Bruce Lambert, Charles Lee, Victor Sears, etc.), a Hong Kong director working together with the equally infamous producers Joseph Lai of IFD Films and Thomas Tang of Filmark, gathered B- and C-movie actors from around the globe to make his legendary Ninja series of films. These usually consisted of a couple of ninja fighting scenes being pasted into a failed or unfinished Hong Kong movie, thus making a new movie out of these shreds. As one might expect, this didn't work out very well, but since we love ninjas, these movies are still watched today because of their overall narminess
and their weird ideas
Ho's films also inspired the Affectionate Parody Ninja The Mission Force
, created by and starring Ed Glaser
(noted scholar of cheap foreign films) and Brad Jones
(noted fan of Pierre Kirby).
It should be noted that many of Godfrey Ho's cut and paste translations didn't
feature added ninjas; however, most of the tropes below still apply.
This series of films provides examples of:
- Achilles in His Tent: Grandmaster Gordon has the tendency to stay away while the bad guy kills one ninja after the other. Usually results in a Curbstomp Battle against the movie's Big Bad.
- Pulled off especially straight in Ninja Death Squad and the Ninja Squad
- Angry Eyebrows: Many actors put on very exaggerated expressions to show they were angry.
- Stuart Smith still is the best example for this.
- Audible Sharpness: All the swords make "CLANG!" sounds during the fights. The trailers for the movies exaggerate it even more.
- Badass Normal: Many characters from the Hong Kong-non-Ninja movies display kung fu skills that would make the ninjas look old.
- Slightly subverted with Billy from The Ninja Squad, whose badassness was explained by his training under ninja grandmaster Gordon.
- Bloodless Carnage: Happened more often than not, ninja slices and ninja cuts and ninja stabs wouldn't cause bleeding at all from the recipients.
- Brotherhood of Funny Hats: Subverted, as most ninja take their part in their "secret society" dead serious.
- Cut-and-Paste Translation: With one part "translation", and three parts "cut and paste".
- Deus ex Machina: Happens quite a couple of time. The most hilarious example occurs in Zombie vs. Ninja. The ninja hero, Duncan, faces off against an evil ninja. Since both of them are equal in swordcombat, the evil ninja starts to concentrate to overwhelm our hero. What happens? An acorn drops from a nearby tree onto the sword of the ninja, distracting him long enough so Duncan can kill him.
- Enemy Mine: In Ninja Terminator, heroic ninja Harry and evil ninja Towne must team up to fight off a henchman of the Ninja Empire.
- Fake Shemp: Used sparingly. Sometimes the characters from the original movie would be portrayed in ninja garb in the Godfrey Ho footage, or other times they would show up with their faces heavily bandaged. It never really worked because even the Fake Shemps' eyes didn't look like the original actors' eyes.
- Funny Bruce Lee Noises: Too many to count.
- Guyliner: Used by the ninjas when they're in disguise, especially in the earlier films.
- Hammerspace: Often ninjas would pull their weapons out of thin air.
- Highly-Visible Ninja: To the point where some of the movies actually have ninjas who wear headbands with the word Nin-Ja on them.
- Importation Expansion
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Ninja: Whenever the source movie has nothing to do with ninjas, which is most of them.
- Instant Costume Change: A few motions of the hand, a 360 spin and BAM, street clothes caucasian becomes ninja!
- The Man Behind the Man: In most movies, the evil ninja master would typically be spliced and dubbed in as being the leader behind "Movie A"'s original Big Bad.
- McNinja: There are hardly ever Asian ninjas. Instead, we get Richard Harrison and Pierre Kirby.
- In the earlier movies, the common ninja Mooks were usually played by Asians, while their leading figures were Caucasians.
- One might call that racism, if Godfrey Ho himself hadn't been an Asian too.
- Godfrey Ho did this intentionally to make fun of the western popularity of the ninja. He was also saying that the modern idea of a ninja is a western invention that bears little resemblance to how they actually were in feudal Japan, and therefore it is more realistic for them to be played by western actors. It was in its own way a Take That of racial stereotypes.
- The Mockbuster: seeing as they were a cheap way of cashing in on the ninja movie craze in the West at that time.
- Of course when that died down, Ho, Lai and co. tried other things, including for example several movies with 'Kickboxer' in the title- perhaps aping a certain movie starring Jean-Claude Van Damme?
- Mood Whiplash: Considering Godfrey Ho's footage was always action movie-style, be it ninja or not, this tended to happen when the original asian movie was not a martial arts movie or a straight-up action film. Which means a madcap comedy scene from the original film can be followed by ninja fight scene played completely straight.
- Rage Quit: In Ninja Terminator, the killer red ninja (the titular Ninja Terminator) from the ninja empire explodes when Ninja Master Harry (Harrison) refuses to kill him when the red ninja feels that his defeat at his hands means he can't go back to the empire.
- Real-Life Relative: Harry/Gordon's wife in Ninja Terminator and Diamond Ninja Force was played by Richard Harrison's real-life wife Maria Francesca.