Bad kung fu movies are a great way to mindlessly burn away an otherwise gloomy afternoon. Few cinematic experiences can deliver the same kind of unbridled mirth obtained from witnessing a poorly dubbed martial arts movie, especially if the film in question is stuffed like your mother's Thanksgiving turkey with horrible dialogue, ridiculous fights, and a whorehouse teeming with every venereal disease known to mankind. One of the easiest ways to acquire such a picture is to say your prayers every night and to sacrifice the remains of your childhood pets to the all-knowing, God-like, dog-shaped figurine in the sky. Or so I've been told, anyway.
I received the hopelessly obscure kung fu opus Ninja Death when I dropped several crisp American dollars for the Martial Arts 50 Movie Pack, a box set filled with some of the lamest and most hilariously awful kung fu flicks I've ever had the privilege of owning. It's a treasure trove for the bad cinema aficionado, a cheap cardboard container housing all sorts of questionable martial arts booty. You know you're just aching to purchase a copy for yourself, you impossibly randy bastard.
The story concerns itself with a guy named Tiger and his misadventures while managing a small Chinese brothel teeming with exotic female companions. Naturally, life is as dandy as store bought candy for our mildly ridiculous hero, that is, until a group of shady Japanese characters open a bordello on the other end of town. And when I say shady Japanese characters, I mean ninjas. Nimble ninjas, the kind that wear solid black outfits and wield extremely sharp swords. Needless to say, the competition is deadly serious about providing incredible customer satisfaction at cutthroat prices.
The ninjas, it would seem, are led by the mysterious Grand Master, a sinister fellow who is desperately searching for a man with a unique plum flower tattoo plastered prominently across his hairless chest. Tiger's mentor, a gentleman known only as "The Master," believes this new threat is linked to his pupil's storied past, prompting the old man to prepare his student for the battle to come. Once the obligatory training sequence is out of the way, Tiger and The Master are forced to contend with a number of bizarro enemies as their lives quickly spiral out of control. Can these two bumbling heroes stop the Grand Master from accomplishing his sadistic mission before the film ends abruptly?
Since the epic Ninja Death saga has been broken into an easily digestible three-course meal, I've decided to approach each segment as an individual film. I also recommend that you do the same, allowing at least a 24-hour gestation period in between chapters. Why, you ask, should you wait one full day to continue this awe-inspiring narrative? Because, dear readers, consuming this life-altering kung fu extravaganza in one sitting could cause serious damage to basic bodily functions, including loss of eyesight, permanent erectile dysfunction, and a particularly nasty case of pink eye. You've been warned.
With a name like Ninja Death, one should expect to find the following off-brand items peppered throughout the film: lots of ninjas and a considerable amount of death. Thankfully, the filmmakers — who have kindly removed their names from the opening credits — didn't skimp on the essentials, serving a generous portion of violent martial arts wizardry to those hungry for such fattening fare. The numerous fight sequences are suitably outlandish and appropriately cheesy, thanks in part to a cast of unbelievably kooky characters and their impressive arsenal of goofy ninja weaponry. The hulking brute in the devil mask is a personal favorite, a man designed specifically to appeal to the eight year-old boy lurking inside every moronic kung fu fan. It's okay — I'm there for you.
The most appealing aspect of this film, however, would be the English dub soundtrack. Midway through the picture, everyone develops a zany British accent, replacing the dodgy American-tinged voice work heard during the first action-packed thirty minutes. The transition is subtle, mind you, but you'll pick up on it sooner or later, I'm sure. The quality of the dub, of course, allows for a number of infinitely quotable moments, the kind of garbage you'll trade back and forth with your nifty MySpace pals for months to come. It's bad poetry in motion. Simply marvelous.
Ninja Death is the ultimate martial arts party movie, an off-beat kung fu adventure overflowing with gratuitous violence, pointless nudity, uncomfortable sex scenes, bawdy humor, and lots of spiffy expletives. If the sequels are as genuinely absorbing as the first entry, yours truly will be a very, very happy camper lost in a forest filled with enormous psychedelic mushrooms. As it stands, Ninja Death is reason enough to drop a small wad of sweaty cash for Mill Creek Entertainment's satisfying Martial Arts 50 Movie Pack. It's a bad kung fu fan's dream come true. With ninjas.