Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Ninja Mission (1984)

To really appreciate The Ninja Mission you have to be one of those people that can look beyond the uneven accents and the low budget. You have to see the movie as something uniqe, an action movie made in a country that loaths genre movies. I'm not sure I'm willing to make the director, Mats Helge, a genius as some fanboys tend to make him. But he's a good craftsman and made a very fun and violent ninja-movie which still competes against the other ninja-films from that time.

Polish actor Krzysztof Kolberger plays Mason, a super-ninja and of course our hero with a perfect eighties haircut. Though we never hear his own voice he makes a good job and works fine both in the few dramatic scenes and in the huge amount of action scenes. He's backed by Bo F. Munthe, who's not in the movie to much actually. He's the "father" to the europan Bujinkan one of the worlds leading experts in Ninjutsu. When the shooting took longer and longer Bo demanded to be killed, and that's why he dosen't survive the movie in the end for example. The rest of the actors are local talents from the south of Sweden and most of them are quite okey. In anyway, the ninjas will go into the Sovjet Union to grab a scientist that's been fooled that he's in Sweden - and of course save his daughter, a singer (played by fellow polish citizen Hanna Bieniuszewicz). And that's more or less it. 

No, there's a lot more of course, but I just don't feel for describing very action scene! This is the only swedish action movie ever made and it makes it a real action film because it's built around the action. The action makes the story progress and there's no pretentions to do something deep and meaningful. Mats Helge has made a good looking flick who looks a lot more than those 350000 dollars it was made with. It keeps the realistic europan look for most of the time with gritty and cold locations, but throws in some gorgeous colors to, especially in the end. 

The action is fantastic for us that enjoys older movies. Mats Helge goes completely Peckinpah here and shows us so much slow-motion mayhem that even Walter Hill would get green of envy. Hundreds of people are being killed, often with huge fat squibs blowing them into pieces. The ninjas also has a tendency top cut people in the faces with their swords and also shops a guys head in half in fantastic and bloody scene. A special weapon is also an arrow that makes the enemies organs (like the brain and heart) to literally EXPLODE! I'm talking Cozzis Contamination here, so you know what I'm talking about. The fighting goes from competent to mediocre, but is mostly saved by good editing. Ah, did I mention the big explosion to? And high falls? And helicopter vs truck? Or the Volvo car-chase? The disco-massacre? There's so much fun here!

Mats Helge and his crew never saw any money from the movie. Here in Sweden it got cut to ribbons and they sold the rights to New Line Cinema who made around 20 million dollars on it and could go on and produce A Nightmare on Elm Street among other movies. It was a huge hit in Asia and sold to over 50 countries. The polish actors never saw any money at all and stole one the production cars and drowe home to Poland to sell it and get some money. I'm sure it was the right decision. In the great massacre on the russian soldiers in the end the crew ran out of money and extras and that's why you can see children and very old men among the soldiers being gunned down! The music is strongly inspired by John Carpenter and it works nice during the last half hour - which is almost non-stop action. Mats Helge also claimed that Jean-Claude Van Damme was one of those that applied to be an extra in this movie. Not sure if that's true, but with Mats Helge you can never know!

As a interesting note there's important to know that Hanna Bieniuszewicz and Krzysztof Kolberger are two very famous and popular actors in Poland nowdays. So this makes them the only two from the crew that actually had big success and a career that will last longer than any of the people involved in The Ninja Mission. So they got their well deserved pay anyway, sort of.

The Ninja Mission is right up there with the best of the cult movies from the eighties. It's more gory and bloody than most other action movies that was made during these days! There's a very cheap dvd out, slightly letterboxed and uncut (Mats Helge of course says it's a lot cut from it, but... really. You can't cut any more violence at least from this movie. It's already so fucking much!). So get it and spread the word that swedish (and polish) ninjas rules!

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