Challenge Of The Lady Ninja (Taiwan 1983)

Rating: **
Review Date: 6/16/13
Cast: Elsa Yeung (Yang Hui San), Chen Kwan Tai

Elsa Yeung is a Chinese girl studying ninjitsu in Japan. Having attained the highest level of skill, she returns to China to avenge her father's death at the hands of Chen Kwan Tai (who also happens to be her fiancé). But he's guarded by four powerful Japanese bodyguards, so Yeung recruits three other women to train as ninja and support her cause. One of them is a kung fu expert, another is a snooty prostitute, and the third is some random woman who holds a grudge against Tai. That's when the film devolves into a standard female training film, with ridiculously inappropriate outfits, low angle leg stretches, back bends, seduction exercises, and mud wrestling. I had no idea that mud wrestling was so integral to the ninja arts... After all of this nonsense, the girls get serious and take out the bodyguards one by one, until only Tai is left. But things aren't as they seem, which leaves Yeung confused and forced to make some difficult decisions. More ninja silliness goes down as she fights the real villain behind the scenes, which includes some ninja tunneling. The film ends on an abrupt note, as the bad guy explodes for no apparent reason and Ms. Yeung staggers off-screen.

This is a fun action film that's unfortunately dragged down by unnecessary sexual humor. Elsa Yeung is absolutely gorgeous and her wardrobe is fabulously chic and sexy. Her burning intensity fits the role perfectly, and she handles her action scenes with authority and flair. She dips into cheesecake territory a couple of times when she performs a ninja illusion that has her dancing around in a bikini, and then takes out one of the bad guys in a mind-boggling oil wrestling match. But she handles everything with deadly seriousness and is an utter delight to behold. The prostitute character plays it mostly for laughs, and provides the majority of the T&A, while the kung fu girl is sorely underutilized. Chen Kwan Tai makes a suave villain with a worried brow and a troubled conscience, but doesn't see any action until the very end of the film. Overall, it's a fun diversion for girl fu action fans.