Friday, October 5, 2012

Billy, Don't Be a Ninja!: "Ninja Squad" (1986)

Just when I thought "Goodnight, Sweet Marilyn" was the end-all-be-all of two lousy films combined to make one really lousy film, along comes "The Ninja Squad." The first problem? There be ninjas, but they never gather into a squad, herd, or even casual group.

None of the actors or actresses are credited with their character names, so I cannot give credit (or blame) where credit is due. The linear story is as follows: Gordon, a ninja, keeps young Billy on as a student for ten years at the Ninja Training School. Ah, the good ol' NTS, I think they fielded a football team in the Big East Conference this year. Anyway, Billy is ninja certified and goes home to the slums of the anonymous Far East country in which he lives (I'm guessing the Philippines, but I may be wrong). Billy is welcomed back in time to kick the collective butts of a group of local toughs run by the crime boss, Larry (I kid you not). Larry, whose very name will send chills down your spine, runs guns and collects a bunch of girls to act as couriers, including Billy's sister. Meanwhile, Gordon is having a pocketful of ninja trouble.

Red Ninja challenges Gordon to a big ultimate ninja duel. Gordon does not respond, so Red Ninja kills another ninja for every month Gordon refuses to fight. Red Ninja finds all the other ninjas easily since everybody dresses like Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, practice moves in public parks, and sport head bands that read "Ninja." I pulled my "Film Critic" head band tighter, and continued watching this in awe. Red Ninja kills a few other ninjas, then sends Gordon the head bands, usually tied to a throwing star.

Billy's girlfriend, Lisa, tries to support Billy, but there just are not any jobs around that require ninja skills. I am not exaggerating, there are many conversations about Billy's unmarketable abilities to fade into the night and carry out silent assassinations. Billy's mom is gunned down, he also loses various friends, and eventually Larry sends all of his machine gun toting henchmen after Billy. Billy doesn't rely on his ninja skills too much once he learns how to fire a gun.

And what of Gordon? Gordon receives letters from Billy before his eventual showdown with the Red Ninja. By now, you may have noticed the pattern. Gordon and Billy never appear in the same scene together! We have Gordon's story, obviously filmed later, as he receives these letters, but Billy never mentions Gordon, just Ninja Training School; ah, good ol' NTS, they have a fantastic liberal arts program, and those frat parties!

The dubbing is atrocious, absolutely hilarious. Since this is two different stories, the film has no overall pacing. It also cost about twelve bucks to shoot. With all the machine guns and swordplay, there is not a drop of blood to be seen. The action is laughable, and this does not even score on an exploitation level, since everyone keeps their shirts on. The actor who plays Billy sports a mustache in every other scene, so I did not recognize him half the time.

"The Ninja Squad" is awful. I got a couple of these kung-fu/ninja videos at a previously viewed video sale, and I think my ninety-five cents may have been better spent on a soda. (*) out of five stars.