Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Blazing Ninja (1973)

Spy movies are fun to watch because the espionage can lead to unexpected twists and turns as the competing spies battle it out with their wits.  They must outsmart each other in order to come out on top.  It could be a battle for world domination, or a simple case of infiltrating an organization.  The characters have been trained to do things that the average person will never do.  They break into places that audiences could only wish to explore.  They get involved in behind-the-scenes action stories that get covered up so that the general public will never know about them.  The genre is fun for almost all who watch it.

The Blazing Ninja took the idea of a spy movie in a different direction.  It was a kicking and punching action extravaganza that was much more martial arts than spy, even though it was trying to tell a spy story.  The movie took place in the 1930s or 1940s when the tensions between China and Japan were hitting their peak.  A resistance was coming up that would try and stop Japan.  To counter this resistance, Japan sent one of their best spies to stop it.  That’s about all that the story is, between the kicking, punching, and crazy dubbing.

Since the story made very little sense, it is hard to coherently think about it.  There was enough craziness and insanity to be entertaining.  That wasn’t a problem.  Trying to sort all of that out into a concise train of thought is difficult because The Blazing Ninja wasn’t focused on storytelling.  Coming out of the movie, trying to explain to people what happened in it is a task and a half.  There’s not a clear starting place since even the opening scene felt like it came from a different movie.
Let’s begin with the opening.   The Blazing Ninja kick started with a man fighting off a bunch of construction workers who looked almost nothing like their 1930s or 1940s counterparts.  He beat a bunch of them up before looking at the camera for a freeze frame as the title popped up.  The fight seemed to have almost nothing to do with the rest of the movie, and the title seemed completely out of place since nobody in the scene seemed anything like a ninja.  Hell, the movie was about spies, not ninjas.  Nobody was a blazing ninja in the movie.

The most important part of that opening, however, was the look of the construction workers.  As was said earlier, The Blazing Ninja was set in the 1930s or 1940s.  It was about a feud between Japan and China that had reached its peak.  Yet nothing looked or felt like it was from that era.  It was as if the style of the 1970s had been transplanted into those decades.  The people were wearing suits from the 1970s.  The action felt very 1970s.  They drove cars from the 1970s.  Even the music, which had sometimes been directly ripped out of 1970s movies, didn’t fit the setting of the first half of the century.  The Blazing Ninja was a 1970s movie through and through, playing on the kung-fu and exploitation popularity of the time.

The scene immediately after was a bunch of guys sitting around a table joking about how someone had just died.  They may have been referencing the guy who was fighting the construction workers, not knowing that he won the fight, but it could have been anyone.  The movie didn't care about continuity in any way, whatsoever.  A guy walked in, threatened those “ninja bastards,” which might explain the ninja thing because nothing else would tip anyone off to the presence of ninjas, and then fought them all.
Neither the guy from that scene nor the guy from the opening were the major player on their side of the conflict.  Both of them were working for the leader of the resistance.  The whole movie, they were trying to get away from the Japanese spy, Yoshido, as he continuously attempted to attack them.  There were a whole bunch of fight scenes as the two sides played a game of cat-and-mouse through the towns of China.  It all culminated in a showdown between the leader of the resistance and Yoshido.

The final scene of the movie was a fight scene between Yoshido and the resistance leader.  Backstory was thrown into the movie where they were friends back in their school days, even though the two of them were a Chinese rebel and a Japanese spy.  They talked about fighting like back in the old days.  Then they talked about it again.  And again.  Then they fought.  Yoshido’s men attacked with weapons, even though Yoshido wanted it to be a one-on-one fight.  They slashed the resistance leader with a sword and shot him, before Yoshido thought it was okay and arrested the man.  Then the movie ended.  It ended there.  Of all places, it ended with the resistance leader being arrested.  That’s it.
The resistance leader didn’t have any help in that fight because he had told his rebel companions to leave.  They had been through enough already during the events of The Blazing Ninja.  One of them had been shot during a getaway, leading to a doctor betraying them in one of the most ridiculous scenes.  When the rebels brought the doctor to the location of their injured friend, he pulled out a gun and said “I’m not a real doctor, but you’re really dead!”  It was only one of the many examples of ridiculous dubbing voices.

The other two big examples of the dubbing of the movie came in one specific moment, as well as a recurring trait of the characters throughout the movie.  The one specific moment was when Yoshido went into a meeting with a woman and exclaimed “Oh! My friend’s beautiful wife!”  It was a weird way to greet someone, even in the 1940s or 1970s that the movie was set.  Then there was the laughing that every character did throughout the movie.  There was maniacal laughter left, right, and centre.  It was overwhelming at points.

The Blazing Ninja is one of those movies that ends up being just insane enough that it works.  The fighting was fun to watch.  The dialogue and story were ridiculous.  It all came together in a package that helped to solidify why Godfrey Ho was a master of bad filmmaking.  He might not produce artistic works of quality, but he manages to pack entertainment throughout his movies.  This was only the second Godfrey Ho movie to be featured in the Sunday “Bad” Movies.  It was also the second time his movies have been highlights of good times.
These notes may also be some good times:

  • Godfrey Ho directed both The Blazing Ninja and Robo Vampire (week 171).
  • Another martial arts movie featured in the Sunday “Bad” Movies was Miami Connection (week 23).
  • Have you seen The Blazing Ninja? What are your thoughts on Godfrey Ho?  How about martial arts movies?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
  • The comments are a place where you can suggest future movies for the Sunday “Bad” Movies.  I like to have input from the people who sometimes read the blog.  You can find me on Twitter too.
  • Sometimes I will share bits and pieces of the movies I watch on Snapchat.  Add me (jurassicgriffin) if that interests you.
  • We’re at a franchise week next week, and it seemed like the perfect time to dive back into the crazy animal attack movies.  It’s not the continuation of the Sharknado series.  Oh no.  But it’s close to those.  This franchise crossed over with a Sharknado character appearing in the first installment before the lead character appeared in Sharknado 4.  That’s right.  Lavalantula and 2 Lava 2 Lantula! will be next week’s movies.  Come back then to see what I’ve got for you.

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