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.