Sunday, May 19, 2013

Blu-ray Review: NINJA III: THE DOMINATION (1984)

2-Disc Blu-ray+DVD Combo

Label: Scream Factory / Shout Factory 
Release Date: June 11th 2013
Region Code: A/1
Rating: R
Duration: 92 Minutes
Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.85:1)
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 
Director: Sam Firstenberg
Cast: Sho Kosugi, Lucinda Dickey, Jordan Bennett

My goodness, what have Scream Factory brought us today? This time out it's not a John Carpenter or Stuart Gordon horror classic, nope, it's an 80's cheese-fest from Cannon Films! Even by Canon standards this is a weird entry. The third film in the Cannon's Ninja series mashes-up the martial arts action of a ninja film with the  supernatural weirdness of Poltergeist and the neon-infused nuttiness of the 80's -  sounds awesome, right?

Set just down the road a bit from me in sunny Phoenix, Arizona the film starts off with a ninja assassin slicing and dicing  group of men on a municipal golf course, these opening scenes are bursting at the seams with goofy 80's action like you just wouldn't believe! We get about every ninja trick in the book and a few new ones, too, the sly assassin is taking out motorcycle cops, police cruisers and even a helicopter with rope tricks, throwing stars and sword play as they give chase through the golf course, it's such a weird setting but the film let's you know right from the start you're about to watch a weird one, sure 'nuff. The action comes fast and hard and is hilarious and awesome, the body count is ridiculously high and the preposterous shenanigans are a fun watch, were just a few minutes in and I am completely on board for Ninja 3 and whatever weirdness will follow, and trust me, it gets even weirder!

Despite his masterful martial arts skills our evil ninja is mortally wounded when he stumbles across an 80's coiffed telephone repairman named Christie (Lucinda Dickey) who also moonlights as an aerobics instructor, it's the 80's, so why not. His dying act is to perform some kind of mind transference on the unsuspecting 80's hottie, possessing her with his evil ninja spirit.

Now possessed Lucinda sets about killing the cops responsible for the ninja's death, shes gained all of the assassin's skills and his insatiable thirst for revenge. Christie throws a wrench into the works when she falls for one of the officers involved, the super-cheesy Officer Billy Secord (Jordan Bennett), as you can imagine it's hard to nurture a new love when the evil ninja inside of you wants him dead.

There's some great possession scenes early on, they arrive like an early 80's music video with neon-colored lighting effects, wind and fog machines in full force, an eerie glowing samurai sword and laser-light show that would make Pink Floyd jealous, great stuff. It's hilarious when Christie attempts to thwart the possession by dancing! Of course, any film with a possession scene must by cinematic law have an exorcism, and this one is a whopper, performed by none other than James Hong from Big Trouble in Little China!

Not having watched this aerobicized ninja ass-kicker before I was at least aware of the infamous V8 seduction scene and it does not disappoint in anyway. In an attempt to seduce Billy, Christie pours a can of V8 down her neck and chest, slurp it up lover, slurp it up! Perhaps he weirdest  product placement you've ever seen and definitely the act of a woman possessed by an evil Japanese Ninja, those Asians are a kinky bunch!

The film looks quite nice in 1080p HD from Scream Factory, it's sourced from a very nice print, there's some minor depth to the image and even some fine detail in the close-ups.The lone audio option is an English language DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track that does the job quite well, there are no subtitles options. 

Special features are limited to a photo gallery and an audio commentary with director Sam Firstenberg and stunt coordinator Steve Lambert moderated by Rob G. of, it's a great listen and the trio seem to love the film and recognize it's inherent oddness. This scream Factory edition also includes a standard def DVD of the film with the same features. Oddly, there are no trailers or chapter stops on the menu, it's a pretty bare-bones edition by Scream Factory standards but it's a nice AV presentation, maybe better than the film deserves.

Special Features:
- Audio Commentary with director Sam Firstenberg and stunt coordinator Steve Lambert moderated by Rob G. of
- Photo Gallery

Verdict: Call up a few friends, pop open a few brews (or V8) and let the bizarre 80's awesomeness unfold, this is a strange one, recommended for lovers of 80's schlock and martial arts action weirdness, hope Scream Factory continue to bring more high-caliber, ultra-entertaining Cannon Films schlock to Blu-ray in the future. 3 Outta 5