Ninja: Die Killer-Maschine (1981)
By: Devon B. on July 15, 2012  | 
DVD
Ascot Elite | Region B | 1.85:1, 1080p | English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 | 100 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Menahem Golan
Starring: Sho Kosugi, Franco Nero, Christopher George, Constantin De Goguel, Susan George
Screenplay: Dick Desmond
Country: USA
External Links
IMDB Purchase YouTube
Enter the Ninja has been released as Ninja: Die Killer-Maschine in Germany, but the print itself says Enter the Ninja, so it's really just the slick that has the German title.

The movie starts with Kosugi giving a ninja weapons demonstration, but then he is rudely interrupted by a white ninja. I guess ninjas would have different colours for different scenarios, kind of like how the army have different types of camouflage for different environments. Black would be for the traditional night time assassination, and white would be for…actually, I don't know what the hell the white would be used for. Blizzard assassinations, I guess. Kosugi isn't happy about the interruption, so continues to face off against the white ninja after the credits finish and then red ninjas turn up, too. I was surprised there were so many ninja colours, but then I guess the Turtles were green, so maybe ninjas have always liked to have lots of colour variety and black has just been disproportionately represented in Western culture. The white ninja escapes the other ninjas' clutches, but it turns out this was just a test, and the white ninja is actually a guy who's just passed the final exam to become a ninja master. This ninja master is played by Franco Nero. Now, I like Django just like everybody else, but I don't watch it and think "ninja." Kosugi isn't happy that Nero is now ninja, and who can blame him given the rude interruption of his demonstration? Kosugi's protests get him nowhere and now that Nero's a ninjutsu expert, he goes off to help an old army buddy who's being bullied out of business. Eventually Kosugi comes back for a second demonstration, and then is sent to try to eliminate Nero, but I suspect he's probably just using the job as an excuse to get back at Nero for ruining his first display.

Nero's presence gives Ninja a fun Euro-Trash vibe, but I really don't think he's well cast as a ninja. He spends most of his screen time out of costume, so the movie's mostly Nero beating up oppressive bad guys like he was a one man A-Team. Clearly the lesson Nero learned best at Ninja University was that ninjas fight in the open while in plain clothes. Nero is about as light-footed as a hippo, so his "stealth" scenes are hilarious, and it's really obvious whenever he's doubled by a much more surefooted man. Nero has some interesting weapons, like a deadly stool, and must be one hell of a ninja because he can set up tricks in rooms he shouldn't have even been in yet. My favourite move he does is when he walks into a room, but then decides that's not ninja enough, so before anyone spots him he goes upstairs so he can drop back down into the room. He wasn't trying to go unnoticed, he just wanted a grander entry!

Things like that and the nudge, nudge ending made me think this movie has its tongue firmly in cheek. Adding to that sense are Christopher George and Constantin de Goguel playing very comic book-esque villains. George is particularly great as an over the top baddie who seems to have raided Steven Seagal's wardrobe. There're some moments that are clearly intended to be funny, so I really think Ninja is a bit of a send up. I mean, Nero the Ninja? How can that be serious? Lest we think the movie is all a laugh, Kosugi does provide some genuinely awesome ninja antics, delivering the ninja goods with gusto, but overall the movie is more for people that like silliness than those that like shurikens.

Keep an eye out for the creepy Grandpa from Silent Night, Deadly Night.
Video
Ninja has a few specks and spots, but is mostly clean. The film has some edge enhancement, but other than that this is a very solid transfer. It looks waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better than I expected it would. It's not gonna compete with a new release like Ninja Assassin, but almost all the flaws on this Blu-ray seem to be related to the source material.
Audio
Ninja has 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio tracks in German or English. I would guess the English 2.0 is the original mix, so that's exactly the track I would want to have for the film. The German dub did sound a bit louder and had some sound FX added or enhanced. It's probably the better track in terms of sound design, but English is the original language.
Extra Features
The trailer and a trailer for the sequel. The cover is reversible and the other side doesn't have the big FSK rating.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Ninja should delight fans of The A-Team, corny action and 80s movies. In fact, everyone with any taste should love it. Ironically, the only people that might not dig it are serious ninja fans as Nero gets most of the screen time, and he's often not even wearing his ridiculous white costume. Kosugi does provide ninja delights, though, so really Ninja is a spectacularly corny 80s action movie that has some truly kickass ninja scenes. Win, win. This Blu-ray offers exactly what I want, a high quality transfer of the film in question, so I'm very happy with this release.

Be warned, there are some real chicken fights in the film.

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