CAPSULE: CITY NINJA [TOU QING KE] (1985)

AKA Ninja Holocaust; Rocky’s Love Affairs?

threestar

DIRECTED BY: Yeung Chuen Bong or Liu Li Shen

FEATURING: Cassanova Wong, Chen Wei Man?, Chia Che Fu?

PLOT:  Two men, one a boxing champion and one a destitute but talented up-and-comer,

City Ninja

seek two necklaces, each with half of a Swiss bank account number engraved on it, for two different criminal organizations.

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST:  This is one crazy chopsocky, but “over-the-top,” “shamelessly exploitative” and “incoherent” are more accurate adjectives to describe it than “weird.”

COMMENTS: From the opening scene where a wandering farmer fights off a horde of ninjas who randomly disappear or explode when defeated, you can be sure that this is a movie that places action and violence far above coherence and logic.  You may have seen that coming, but what might surprise you is how much sex gets thrown into the mix.  Both of the dual heroes gets several sweaty couplings with his main or subsidiary squeeze, and the flick even throws in a gratuitous Caucasian stripper groupie hired for her cultural willingness to show skin (the Asian girls demurely cover their naughty bits behind a frosted shower stall, soaking wet kimono, or a lover’s flailing limbs).  The sex scenes are extra steamy for this type of movie, and even lead to some soap-opera style histrionics when one of the fighters is confronted by the girlfriend he dumped in front of the Other Woman; she pulls a gun on him while informing him she’s pregnant.  The director views plot as a necessary evil that gets in the way of fight and sex scenes, yet he tackles a complicated story with two different strands and many moving parts.  The result is that he rushes from fight scene to sex scene and back, and fits in exposition when he has a spare moment; there are several times when the viewer gets totally lost because the movie fails to establish which plotline it’s exploring at the moment.  Though the sex makes it stand out from the pack, chopsockies rely on flying boots, not heaving breasts, and City Ninja delivers memorable melees in spades.  The combatants are lightning fast, the fight choreography is excellent, there’s comedy that actually works, and the mini-scenarios can be delightfully absurd.  Best is a brilliant billiard room brawl with a kabuki-faced acrobat/poolshark that morphs into a mud-wrestling match; there’s also a remarkably executed scene where a boxer fights off attackers by manipulating his girlfriend’s stockinged legs as she sits on his shoulders.  It’s far from high art, but it’s crazy and fun, and you have to admire the pure devotion to exploitation movie principles.

The IMDB credits Godfrey Ho as writer of Ninja Holocaust.   Godfrey may or may not have been involved, but it certainly has that convoluted Ho vibe.  The plot description and reviews make it clear that City Ninja and Ninja Holocaust are substantially the same movie, but the listed credits for the two films differ. I don’t feel particularly compelled to do the detective work necessary to straighten the credits out. Though it has two different heroes and can be difficult to follow, City Ninja does not appear to be spliced together from two different movies, as some assume based on it’s rumored association with cut-n-paste master Ho.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…this movie is dumber than a box of dog biscuits, but it’s also a lot of fun. You never have to wait for something ridiculous to happen and the flick is never boring.”–Mitch, The Video Vacuum (DVD)

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