Ultimate Ninja, The | Varied Celluloid

Ultimate Ninja, The

Posted by Josh Samford On January - 21 - 2010
The Plot: You’re going to have to bear with me on this one. For reasons that I’ll get into with the review, the actual “plot” in The Ultimate Ninja isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world to wrap your head around. With that said, it goes something like this – we begin with a ninja practicing his martial arts before being ambushed outside of a shrine. The Red Ninja Master dies, but not before passing along the Golden Ninja Warrior shrine. A golden object that is supposed to grant the ultimate ninja powers to whoever possesses it. On the opposite side of the spectrum of the Red Ninjas, we have the Black Ninjas who’s leader desperately wants to get his hands on this Golden Ninja Warrior and will stop at nothing to attain it. So Red Ninja sets out on his journey for revenge and lures the Black Ninjas out into the open to fight him. At the same time, we follow the happenings of a small restaurant in the middle of a small village that is ruled by a corrupt politician named Roger. Roger has tormented the townspeople by enacting his own brand of law & order, using a group of martial art students to beat anyone who disobeys. This group is being instructed by an older gentleman who unfortunately is forced into the situation as it’s the only way he can make money to support his family. Unknown to all however, on the outskirts of town a young man who’s family was slaughtered by Roger and his goons has trained his body into an instrument of destruction. He is out for revenge, and thus Roger’s time is drawing to a close.


The Review
Who knew I would cover a martial arts movies so soon after the massive bender that was A Very Kung Fu Christmas, which usually burns me out on this sort of thing. However, about halfway through The Ultimate Ninja I knew I would have to put a few words down. My first ever Godfrey Ho movie, it seems to really resonate with everything I have heard about the filmmaker up until this point. Godfrey Ho could be seen as the Ed Wood of Hong Kong, a shameless filmmaker who made cheap and terribly inept movies with the hope of turning over a profit. Whereas with Ed Wood you get the idea that he really was just a simple guy trying his best to make a scary movie, Godfrey Ho lacks the heart of naivete that makes Ed Wood such a likable character. Ho just wants to make a cheap buck and whatever it takes to do that he seems okay with it. The Ultimate Ninja is a shining example that cutting two movies together just isn’t the most intelligent way to make a movie and at the end of the day. I mean, that point obviously doesn’t need to be made – but someone should have clued ol’ Godfrey in on that matter. When you work like this, no matter what you’re going to have a festering turd that almost no one would want to see. No one but a masochist like myself.

Godfrey Ho made his name amongst film geeks by his less than savory habit of recycling old and obscure footage within his movies. By taking older forgotten martial art movies from Taiwan, mainland China or wherever and then going out and shooting a few hours worth of footage with several Caucasian actors imported from all over – he was able to make filmmaking into a true assembly line. You see, with an infinite number of independent martial art movies and several hours worth of new footage with these White Ninjas – he would try and hack, slash and cut these movies together. Taking a few hours worth of footage and making it into ten or twelve different “Ninja” movies. The number of movies he could make with all of this footage was infinite. Although I doubt you could call it “loved”, I do suppose The Ultimate Ninja is one of the more known films of his. After sitting through it, if this is one of his better accomplishments then god help me if I dare try my hand at any more of his work. Expecting an over the top Ninja-sploitation movie, I can’t tell you how disappointed I was to find that The Ultimate Ninja turned out to be so dreadfully dull.

It might seem impossible to label a movie boring when there’s a fight scene starting or ending ever ten minutes – but believe me, when context and story are thrown out the window as they are in this movie; you can’t help but wonder just what the point is after a while. It is just so frustrating when watching, since I actually wanted to be engaged with the movie. I wanted Godfrey Ho to be some kooky filmmaker that I felt I could turn to for some easy entertainment, but Ultimate Ninja doesn’t really promise a whole lot. What hampers it and keeps you from ever actually becoming involved in the movie at all is that it is just unintelligible. No matter how hard I tried, there’s just no wrapping your head around this movie. It’s as if you’re watching a Kung Fu flick while high. Characters walk into the movie and disappear for nearly the entire portion of the movie. They fight and choose teams without ever actually having any kind of motivation explained. Plot developments come, go and if you’re lucky they might actually pop up again during the final minutes of the movie. While this may sound silly and dumb enough to be fun, trust me on this one, it’s just frustrating.

The entire addition of Ninjas within the movie feels as tacked on and uninspired as you may very well imagine. I halfheartedly expected Ho to somehow tie these two lines of thought together: the black and red ninja battling each other over a golden doll and the far more epic story detailing the forces of good teaming up to take down Roger (what a villain name!). However, these stories never tie into one another. It’s as if you’re watching two separate movies that are cut together every few minutes. On their own, I think either thread of story could have made a decent movie. The ninja plot, Ho’s contributions, are fun in all of the right ways I had expected. Ninjas are shown to be supernatural beings who can teleport, jump over buildings and probably eat trains if they wanted to. This stuff could have been really great in full length! It’s just unfortunate that we get this hacked to bits story that ultimately doesn’t even make sense. There’s a full subplot about the Black Ninja’s brother who is supposed to be coming to town that is actually NEVER resolved during the entire course of the movie. That can’t even technically be a spoiler, since there’s NOTHING to spoil! Now, the restaurant story dealing with Roger – this too possibly could be a decent little kung fu flick without Ho hacking it to pieces. The choreography, in both movies, isn’t really quality stuff. It’s pretty ugly sometimes, but it doesn’t look phony looking or slow. The story, if told in some way that actually makes sense, actually seems pretty interesting as well. Unfortunately, Ho went power mad and ultimately we’re given this mutant love child that denigrates all of the work completely.

The Conclusion
If you’re like me, no matter how much I warn – you’ll still explore Godfrey Ho’s filmography. Heck, I won’t lie, at some point I too will probably dig around for something better; but it won’t be for a while. The Ultimate Ninja just isn’t the movie to sell the filmmaker, I’ll say that. I give it a one out of five, because there is actually some promise within both streams of narrative. They don’t go anywhere, but it keeps the movie just barely watchable. Stuart Smith also goes way over the top, but he’s not able to add any brownie points for the movie like he was able to with Bloodfight. I wouldn’t really recommend this one, even for a netflix rental. However, if you just have to, keep in mind that you’ve been warned.



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Varied Celluloid is a film website intent on delivering views on movies from all genres. Started in 2003, the website has been steadfast in its goal and features a database of over 500 lengthy reviews. If you would like to contact us about writing for the website or sending screeners, please visit the about page located here.

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