Bionic Ninja (HK 1986)

Rating: *
Review Date: 12/27/00
Director: Godfrey Ho

Simply amazing. How is it possible for a movie to be this bad? A classic case study in bewilderment and incomprehensibility, not to mention a perfect example of how NOT to make a film. And what's up with the misleading and irrelevant title? Anyway, a roll of "top technical data film" is stolen by some triad thugs and the CIA sends special agent Tommy Foster to Hong Kong to retrieve it. But the KGB wants to get their hands on the data film as well, and they assign their ninja task force to get the film. That's right, Russian ninjas... However, the ninjas don't actually do anything except sneak around and vanish into thin air, but they somehow manage to get the film. Tommy Foster then visits an old ninja master to learn the art of ninjitsu so that he can face his ninja foes. Meanwhile, a courier named Gordon Mann has been framed for the loss of the film and gets mercilessly attacked by everyone in the film (except for his cute girlfriend). And at the same time, two Hong Kong police officers (including chubby Kent Cheng?) are also on the case to retrieve the stolen film. We also have a guy named Lu Wong (the ugly guy with the hideous underbite from so many low budget kung fu films) who's responsible for the whole mess and spends his time getting beaten up and trying to stay out of trouble. These various plot elements get cut and pasted into each other for about an hour with no sense of direction and no cohesion whatsoever. It's literally just a jumble of almost completely unrelated footage - not surprising since director Godfrey Ho has made an infamous career of splicing together pieces from unfinished projects. Finally at the end, Tommy Foster dons his red ninja uniform and takes on the KGB ninjas (all three of them) at - you guessed it - a waterfront warehouse. As he reclaims the stolen film and heads back to New York he mutters, "the world can sleep a little safer tonight." But I'm not sure if I can...

Where do I begin to deconstruct and ridicule this film?!? The soundtrack is all over the place, liberally stealing from "Dune" (1984), Reflex's "The Politics Of Dancing," and possibly "Miami Vice" among others. The ninjas are ridiculous. Why are they even in this film? They don't do anything and certainly none of them are bionic. However, seeing a ninja driving a car was definitely a hilarious bonus.

Of course, the atrocious continuity and unbelievable lack of direction are the worst aspects of the film (and quite possibly the most entertaining). Lu Wong's shoes and hair style change from scene to scene, from straight, to short, to permed, and back again. Cars magically have dents and damage appear and disappear between cuts, which is particularly odd because there are no chases or crashes in the film. Then there are the completely out of place filler scenes, including a gratuitous bath/shower/sex scene that has absolutely nothing to do with the film. It's actually rather funny because it's the most frantic and uncomfortable looking bathing sequence I've ever seen. The actress must have been very anxious to get it over with... Gordon Mann seems to live all over town and gets ambushed wherever he goes. At one of his dwellings the bad guys kill his dog, but then the dog shows up again at the end of the film, apparently unharmed. Towards the end, he shows up at another apartment to find it full of natural gas with a bound and gagged (and unconscious) little girl on the couch. He rushes the girl to the hospital and we never see her again! Who is this girl?!? She seems to be close to Gordon and his girlfriend, but she doesn't appear to be either's daughter. Where did she come from and what does she have to do with the story?!? Then, while Gordon is at the hospital he overhears one of the police officers talking about where the bad guys are holed up (and he repeats it into the phone very... slowly...). With revenge on his mind Gordon rushes out of hospital and apparently right out of the script! He only shows up again at the end of the film tinkering with a bicycle. Huh?!? Instead, his girlfriend decides to go undercover and sneaks into the gangster's mansion as a maid. What?!? She gets caught, but eventually prevails due to the poor construction of the villain's furniture. And of course there's the wonderfully awful dialog, which I won't even bother going into. What a complete disaster of a film, and one that just boggles the mind with its complete ineptitude.