Country: Hong Kong
Genre: Action/ Martial Arts
Director: Lee Tso-Nam
TRASH CINEMA HIGHLY RECOMMENDED MOVIE
A Life Of Ninja has just about anything you could possibly want in a ninja picture: exotic weapons, killer swordplay, high quality kung fu, and even some exploitation.
Somebody is trying to kill Chan Ming Fu (Chen Hung-Lieh), a ruthless Chinese businessman who treats his wife and sister-in-law like toilet paper. The sister-in-law, Sun Chi Mei (Elsa Yeung), is a swordplay enthusiast, and tries to enroll in Chow Han Wei’s (Chen Kuan-Tai) martial arts school. He won’t allow it, since she is a woman, but they end up becoming lovers, anyway. When Chan Ming Fu asks Chow Han Wei to be his bodyguard, Chow Han Wei accepts, not because he gives a damn about Chan Ming Fu, but rather to protect Sun Chi Mei. You see, everyone close to Chan Ming Fu is getting wasted by the ninjas.
But forget the plot for a minute. That’s only the scaffolding, and it’s paper thin anyway. The real business of the picture is to create opportunities for near constant action, which is of a remarkably high quality. One reason for that is the casting of Kurata Yasuaki as the head ninja, but he’s not the whole show, not by a long shot. Almost every single action sequence is a winner, which is largely due to the efforts of action choreographer Peng Kong.
It also helps that the picture looks good, makes sense for the most part, and moves quickly, all virtues we can thank director Lee Tso-Nam for. Lee Tso-Nam is even kind enough to throw in some gratuitous nudity and sleaze along the way, just for fun, like a female mud wrestling sequence which is supposed to be some sort of ninja training.
Curmudgeons will probably take issue with the paper thin plot, the shallow characterizations, and the occasional lapses in believability, by the standards of a ninja flick, that is.
For example, if ninjas are such hot stuff, how does hero Chow Han Wei manage to slice through dozens of them like butter in the third act? And if the ninjas have been hired to kill Chan Ming Fu, why do they keep killing bodyguards and business acquaintances instead?
But never mind. Life Of Ninja is pure pop filmmaking, all frosting and no cake. It’s a ninja picture with all the boring parts cut out.
Aside from minor complaints that feel more like carping, my only major criticism is that a key swordfight during the climax is filmed in almost complete darkness. I would have preferred better lighting for a sword duel between Kurata Yasuaki and Chen Kuan-Tai.
But nonetheless, Life of Ninja is a heck of a good time. I was laughing with delight every few minutes.
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