Ninja III: Die Herrschaft der Ninja (1984)
By: Devon B. on July 15, 2012  | 
DVD
Ascot Elite | Region B | 4:3, 1080p | English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 | 93 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Sam Firstenberg
Starring: Sho Kosugi, Lucinda Dickey, Joradn Bennett
Screenplay: James R. Silke
Country: USA
External Links
IMDB Purchase YouTube
Throughout the Ninja series, much has been made of the fact that only another ninja can stop a ninja. I found this hard to swallow. What about really bad traffic? If a ninja was on his way to an assassination in Sydney during peak traffic times and hadn't left enough time to get to his destination, I bet the congestion would stop him. In Ninja III: Die Herrschaft der Ninja (AKA Ninja III: The Domination) it is clarified that it takes a ninja to destroy a ninja, so a ninja could easily suffer inconvenience in a traffic jam. When I saw this movie had the subtitle Die Herrschaft der Ninja, I did think "Herrschaft" must be a term for penis, but it turns out it's a word that is difficult to accurately translate into English. "The Domination of the Ninja" is a suitable translation, and while that's less risqué and inappropriate than "The Man-Shaft of the Ninja" sometimes we just have to accept things as they are.

Ninja III has a corker of an opening, and because it's the opening I'm going to describe it but be warned so much cool stuff happens it could be construed as a spoiler to outline the scene even though it's the first thing in the movie. A grey ninja attacks some yuppies on a golf course, lifts up a golf buggy with one hand, takes out a chopper, uses a breathing reed as a dart blower, kills what seems like a whole police department, gets shot, revives, then gets shot some more before he disappears. The ninja assaults a telephone repair woman, then he kind of possesses her, then dies. The woman starts getting flashbacks to the shooting whenever she meets one of the ninja's shooters, and a new ninja in similar grey garb starts taking out the gunmen. Not to mention the woman is now haunted by the ninja's ghost. It's good to see the filmmakers sticking closer to reality this time.

The third film of Sho Kosugi's ninja trilogy finds him fighting another bad ninja… eventually. He really isn't in this movie much, mainly just popping in for the showdown to destroy the ninja. While I would say it's a shame the series moved away from having Kosugi as the focus, Ninja III is so bugfucked it's hard to criticise it with any enthusiasm. Yeah, maybe Kosugi should've been able to do more, but this is like a hellzapoppin' movie it's so whacked. It becomes clear early on that the film is going to have some bad acting and dialogue, but the movie gets so goddamn funky it's hard not to enjoy it.

I'm not really sure where to put Ninja III in terms of the series. The first one is goofy, but not like this, and while the second movie is easily the best of the lot, it's nowhere near as zany. The mythical power of the ninja is taken to such ridiculous levels here that even the most gullible won't be able to suspend their disbelief, but that's what makes the film such madcap fun.

Watch for a magic disappearing towel.
Video
Sadly, Ninja III is presented full frame and doesn't look anywhere near as good as its prequels. The film almost looks like it was taken from a VHS master, with specks, spots, some noise, some edge enhancement and an overall soft image. Perhaps the negative is lost and this is the best we're going to get, and I'm willing to give Ascot the benefit of the doubt given how impressive the first two films' transfers were, but that doesn't change the fact that Ninja III looks awful.
Audio
There're German and English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio tracks. The German track is a bit louder, but the music also sounded a bit tinnier at times, so there's a trade off. Both tracks are fine, and as always I'd prefer a lossless version of the original audio to a remix, so I'm happy with the English track.
Extra Features
The trailer and the prequel's trailer. The cover is also reversible and the other side doesn't have the big FSK rating.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
As a movie, Ninja III is almost impossible to rate. Is it great or just so bad it's great? Is it so crazy it's amazing? It's like a Chinese ghost movie from the 80s meets an entertaining version of Blood Beat. Ninja III does have some genuinely good ninja mayhem, so it's worth seeking out for fans of the genre, just brace yourself for a tonne of weirdness.

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