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Film / Godfrey Ho Ninja Movies

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"Born a Ninja, die a Ninja!"

In The '80s, 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 the above-mentioned 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 failed or unfinished Hong Kong or Korean movies, thus making a new movie out of these shreds. As one might expect, this didn't work out very well, but since many people love ninjas, these movies are still watched today because of their overall narminess and their weird ideas. For anyone curious, many of them can be found on YouTube for free.

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 actor Pierre Kirby).

It should be noted that many of these didn't feature added ninjas; however, most of the tropes below still apply.

Movies with their own page:

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.
  • Chinese Vampire: These occasionally show up.
  • 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.
  • Elmer Fudd Syndrome: "Golden Ninjer Warriah". "Golden Ninjer Empiah". "Ninja Terminatah!"
  • 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.
  • Frankenslation: Take footage from another film, splice in new footage, and use dubbing and editing tricks to make them look like one continuous film.
  • Funny Bruce Lee Noises: Too many to count.
  • Gratuitous Ninja: In that ninja scenes are spliced into movies that didn't have anything to do with them.
  • 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 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: Asian ninjas are hardly ever the main characters in any of these movies, rather they tend to be relagated to common Mooks while Caucasian actors like Richard Harrison and Pierre Kirby are given the leads instead.
    • Godfrey Ho actually did this intentionally to make fun of the western popularity of the ninja. He also said that the modern idea of ninjas 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 his own way, a Take That! at racial stereotypesnote .
  • The Mockbuster: seeing as they were a cheap way of cashing in on the ninja movie craze in the West at that time.
  • 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.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Since most of the trailers consist solely of ninja footage, viewers probably weren't aware that the other 80 percent of the film was of an entirely different drama. Some of the names are outright lies as well: City Ninja takes place in the country and the suburbs, while Bionic Ninja has no robots or cyborgs in sight.
  • No Ending: Most movies immediately end the moment the final bad guy dies. Ninja Knight Thunder Fox is especially notable in this regard, as it ends with the hero throwing his sword into the villain, who then explodes - and the movie freeze-frames and puts up "The End" just as he starts to explode.
  • Public Domain Feature Films: Ho's first film The Blazing Ninja is the only movie of his that falls under this.
  • 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.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Several of these films use "Human" by The Human League at the most inappropriate times - for example, Ninja Knight Thunder Fox plays it over a date-rape scene.
  • Technicolor Ninja: Those ninja costumes come in a whole variety of colors.
  • Z Movie: These movies were made like an assembly line as ninja scenes were shot quickly using toy weapons and store bought costumes, while the rest of the film is padded out with stock footage to hit the feature length mark. In some cases, these scenes would even clash with the already cheap looking stock footage due to their noticably lower quality.