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Film / Ninja Terminator

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Ninja Terminator (1985) is one of the many Godfrey Ho Ninja Movies of the 1980s, starring Richard Harrison and Jonathan Wattis.

The plot of this film revolves around the Golden Ninja Warrior, a mystic ninja statue which is held by the mysterious Ninja Empire; its power makes the wielder's upper body (that is, the head, torso and both arms) impervious to physical harm. However, three of the Empire's students—including McNinja protagonist, Ninja Master Harry (Harrison)—steal the three parts of the statue and make a run for it, killing several of their fellow ninja in the process. Two years later, the head-and-torso portion of the statue is retrieved by the Ninja Empire after Tomashi, the ninja who claimed it, is killed by one of the Empire's loyal ninjas, but Harry and fellow McNinja Towne (Wattis) each hold one of the statue's arms.

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Sometime after Tomashi's death, Towne—revealed at this point to be a shady crime boss—utilizes his chief enforcer Tiger Chan's organization to seek out Tomashi's sister Michiko, in order to claim the statue's torso for himself. Meanwhile, Harry makes use of his henchman Jaguar Wong to locate and protect Michiko from Tiger Chan, even as Harry himself faces threats from the Ninja Empire to return the Golden Ninja Warrior or else.

For this film, the shots of the ninja action were spliced together with footage from the 1984 Korean film, The Uninvited Guest of the Star Ferry; for the interested, the plot of that film involved conflict between a Korean immigrant store-owner and the locals of Hong Kong, with instances of murder and corruption thrown into the mix.

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Tropes in Ninja Terminator:

  • Antagonist Title: The Ninja Terminator himself, real name Yamato.
  • Audible Sharpness: As expected of a Godfrey Ho ninja movie.
  • Badass Normal: Jaguar Wong isn't one of the film's ninjas and doesn't have their magic powers, yet he can hand opponents their asses with frightening ease. Fellow badass Tiger Chan is the only one who can come close to giving him a decent challenge.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Jaguar's six-sided die, which he's seen fiddling with early in the movie when he goes to the restaurant and meets Michiko. He uses the die as a projectile during the fight with Tiger to give himself a momentary edge.
  • Covers Always Lie: See that movie poster above? It depicts a red-clad ninja using a crossbow-gun, another ninja jumping from a helicopter, a gunfight aboard an airplane, and explosive car crashes...none of which appear in the movie proper.
  • Damsel in Distress: Michiko.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Tiger Chan takes orders from Towne, but Tiger himself is the main active bad guy for most of the movie.
  • Enemy Mine: Harry and Towne are forced to team up after both of them receive threats from the Ninja Empire.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Towne wants the whole Golden Ninja Warrior for himself, and is willing to orchestrate the kidnapping and torture of an innocent woman to make it happen. At the same time, the Ninja Empire's titular Ninja Terminator is quite willing to take out Towne and Harry if they don't return the Golden Ninja Warrior, forcing the latter two to work together to take down the Ninja Empire.
  • Fingore: At one point in the past Tiger forced his mook Victor to cut off a finger as punishment for failure. In the present day, Tiger reminds Victor of this as motivation for him not to fail the mission to kidnap Michiko and retrieve the body of the Golden Ninja Warrior.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Ninja Empire, which employs the titular Ninja Terminator and also trained the selfish and villainous Towne to be the highly-skilled badass he is. The various conflicts of the movie (Michiko losing her brothers and later being tortured herself, Towne masterminding Tiger Chan's criminal activities) have their roots in the hunt for the Golden Ninja Warrior and can be traced right back to the Empire.
  • Highly Visible Ninja: The Ninja Empire's ninjas wear bright red outfits, and that includes the titular Ninja Terminator they send to retrieve the Golden Ninja Warrior. Harry is a lesser example, as his ninja outfit is colored in soldier-green camouflage.
  • Karma Houdini: The scientist who gives Tiger the bomb intended to kill Michiko is never shown getting any comeuppance for his actions (then again, he's only a hired hand and only shows up the one time to deliver said bomb). Likewise, Victor and Lily never get any comeuppance for double-crossing Jaguar.
  • Made of Iron: The Golden Ninja Warrior gives this ability to whoever invokes its power, as demonstrated by the Ninja Empire's master at the start of the film; the user's torso and arms become capable of deflecting sword-strikes and shuriken. The three pieces of the statue can also grant this power separate from each other (Harry, who has the statue's right arm, gets the ability to harden his own right arm as a result).
  • The Man Behind the Man: Towne is the man behind Tiger Chan, giving the latter instructions via telephone.
  • Man in White: Tiger, for most of the movie.
  • McNinja: Harry and Towne.
  • One Last Smoke: At one point, a captive Jaguar asks for this before he's scheduled to be executed. The mook in charge of the execution stupidly decides to grant the request, even retrieving Jaguar's preferred brand of smokes from his jacket pocket. Naturally, Jaguar takes advantage of the ensuing distraction to kick ass, break free from his bonds (yes, in that order), and escape.
  • Plot Hole: The natural result of Godfrey Ho splicing ninja footage together with footage from a completely unrelated movie. One especially glaring example in this case happens early in the film—Tiger's men attack Tomashi's sister Michiko and her other surviving brother while they are out for a drive. The brother fights them off for a while but is eventually killed, but the next time we see Michiko, she's sitting in a restaurant where Jaguar goes to question her about the Golden Ninja Warrior...question is, how did she escape those mooks from earlier? The film never answers that question.
  • Race Against the Clock: The Ninja Terminator gives Harry three days to return the Golden Ninja Warrior, and a day later Towne is sent a message informing him that he has two days to comply with the same demand. Neither Harry nor Towne is inclined to obey.
  • Title Drop: The Ninja Terminator sends a videotape to Towne, warning him that he must return the Golden Ninja Warrior and commit harikiri (ritualistic suicide) to make amends for stealing the statue from the Ninja Empire.
    Yamato: If you don't wish to suffer the wrath of the ninjas, then give back the Golden Ninja Warrior...and I am the Ninja Terminator.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Tomashi, honestly—at the time of his death, he's in the process of invoking the power of the statue's torso when an Empire ninja shows up and attacks him, he briefly fends off the ninja, and then continues to try invoking the statue's power while the other ninja is still right there. That he gets a shuriken to the back seconds later is only the end result of his distraction.
  • The Triads and the Tongs: While paying their last respects at Tomashi's grave, his brother voices suspicion to Michiko that Tomashi must have been killed for involvement in Triad activity (they're not aware of his ninja life).
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After Jaguar saves Michiko from being blown up by the bad guys, she disappears from the rest of the movie altogether. Victor and his girlfriend Lily likewise vanish from the movie after double-crossing Jaguar during the hostage-exchange prior to said rescue from said bomb.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Jaguar and his ex Lily, after they meet up again for the first time in years, get to having steamy sex...while Lily is currently in a relationship with Victor. Lily herself acknowledges that she and Jaguar can't see each other again because of the new relationship, while Jaguar (before learning who the new man is) admits that he'd expect Lily to have a new flame following their previous parting of ways.
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