5/27/2010

Ninja Enforcer (1973)

Ninja Enforcer (1973)-* * *

AKA: (believed to be) Angry Dragon

Directed By: Sum Cheung














In this ill-synced, "chop-socky" outing, which is NOT a ninja movie (see below), A dandy fop who just happens to be great at Kung-Fu, is traveling the countryside in the Hong Kong of old. He has to negotiate a treacherous landscape filled with tricksters and tough guys, and fight a lot of battles in hand-to-hand martial arts combat, in order to be reunited with his lost love, and also, if there's still time, to rescue the queen. In order to do this, he teams up with a ragtag bunch of orphans. Also there is something about a rivalry with the Mongols, but that's not entirely clear.

"Ninja Enforcer" is an above average 70's punch-and-kick film. The fight sequences are well-choreographed and satisfying on a technical level. You can tell they are the real deal. A major plus of the HK films of the time was the authenticity of the fighting. It wasn't done in close-up with a million cuts. There was real technique and you could see many moves per shot.

Another positive for this film is the upbeat nature of most of it, and the "trickery" scenes keep the viewers' interest. For example, in the beginning, in order to establish our hero is a good guy, we see two male highway bandits who plan to steal his suitcase. One of the men dresses up like a woman, and the other man pretends to rape him, presumably in order to get our hero to stop and pay attention! Surely there are other ways to do this...!?!?

Also, a man pretends to be blind in order to steal another man's chicken (the film portrays the poverty of the time well), and in another scene, a secret note, written on a tiny piece of white paper, is hidden in a bowl of rice for someone else to find! I'm sure there's no risk of that plan failing...

And what is the secret of the "fresh, juicy and delicious melons...the best in town!" ? Well let's just say that the "Slap Chop" was invented hundreds of years before Vince Offer claims to have!

There are bald guys with funny outfits and facial hair, a standout eating scene, more-than-competent martial arts, a love story, and plenty of "tricks"...however, even with all that, the movie does get a bit dull at times, and the dubbing, well, you know the story.

Martial arts fans will probably enjoy this. Others who haven't developed a taste for it, like the "sweet, delicious melons", just might be missing out.


THE CONFUSING TALE OF "NINJA ENFORCER"

Just what the heck is this movie? Well, finding out the truth was tough in this case. From what I've been able to gather, "Ninja Enforcer" is a title totally fabricated by the label that released it on VHS in the U.S., New Pacific Pictures. While there is one Japanese character in the film, that does not a ninja movie make, and the re-titling was obviously done to cash in on the then-current "Ninja Boom" of the 1980's (see above).

New Pacific Pictures took a film released in 1973 by Hong Kong production company Goldig Films (one of the many HK producers competing with giants like Shaw Brothers and Golden Harvest) -- you can find more info on Goldig elsewhere on the internet, including a filmography, on hkmdb.com -- and, figuring all Asian countries were basically the same, magically transformed it into, you guessed it, a NINJA MOVIE! Isn't that easy?

Not only did New Pacific come up with a random Ninja title, they also came up with its own unrelated-to-the-movie box art, and, topping themselves, a list of phony credits! Among other fakery, the box claims that the movie "Ninja Enforcer" was "written by Ken Ming, produced by Tung Chu, and directed by Lee Su". To the best of my knowledge, these are not real people. Or at least they were not connected to "Ninja Enforcer" in any way. If I am incorrect about this, or any of the above information, please write in to set me straight. Additionally, the copyright on the box is 1989, obviously when the tape came out, NOT the film.

I believe the true English-language title for this film is "Angry Dragon", but NOT the same Angry Dragon released in the U.S. on the "Old Skool Killaz" label. I'm referring to the British DVD release of "Angry Dragon". And, while the true director of this film IS Sum Cheung, NOT Lee Su), the IMDB shows the "Old Skool Killaz" box art, which is incorrect, as representative for the correct film. Confusing, eh?

To add confusion on top of confusion, "THE Ninja Enforcer" is an alternate title for the Leo Fong vehicle, Ninja Assassins.

I have tried to untangle this mystery as best I can, and eliminate as much confusion as I can. Did it work?

Comeuppance review by: Brett

4 comments:

Benji Leal said...

Just picked up the VHS in a resale shop. I love that they photoshopped what is obviously an Asian looking Jean-Claude Van Damme!!!

Ty said...

Haha! That's hilarious!

Morgan Wentworth said...

More hilarity: I purchased a used copy of what I thought was Ninja Terminator, a totally different film, but what was on the tape was Angry Dragon aka Ninja Enforcer. Not sure if it was taped over or came like that from the factory. Either way I still need to find Ninja Terminator, I hear tell it has actual ninjas.

Ty said...

Funny comment! Sometimes these ninja movies are so interchangeable you never know what you're going to get. That's part of the fun.