Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ninja Killer (1974)

I've included the wrong year of this production, because Ninja Killer was probably released in the early eighties, but the movie it uses the main bulk of footage from was released in 1974 under the awesome title Karateciler istanbulda, starring the one and only bad-ass Cüneyt Arkin! Karateciler istanbulda was probably bought cheaply by Filmark who then shot new footage with Carter Wong and Bolo Yeung. Contrary to what the rumours say, Godfrey Ho was probably not involved in this (or what I know, any of Filmark's productions) and the director of the new scenes could have been a nobody with the name Victor Lam or maybe it just was an alias for Tomas Tang himself. I'm pretty sure we will never know.

The story is, for a Filmark production, quite straight-forward and the new footage fits in quite good to the Turkish movie. It's something about Hong Kong gangsters who smuggles antiques out from Hong Kong to Turkey, and the Honk Kong police sends a cop to assist Cüneyt Arkin catch the smugglers and at the same time some gangster boss in Hong Kong wants to take revenge on Bolo Yeung, who I think is a cop also... or maybe a gangster or... hey, do you know what? Just read Teleport City's ambitious try to explain the story here.

I must confess I never even tried to understand the stories in many of these flicks. I'm just waiting for the next cool action scene and that might explain my lack of ambition when it comes to this boring part of explaining the storyline. Because Ninja Killer is actually a very cool movie, and highly recommended. First of all, which we all knew deep inside: the Turkish original footage is WAY more cooler than the newly shot Hong Kong footage. The fights and random action performed by Arkin is extremely cool, very violent and with frantic fight scenes. The Hong Kong stuff is quite ok, but Bolo is fighting sideways like he's Doctor Zoidberg (they kinda look like each other to actually) and there's not love, no passion in the fighting. But it works and it's never boring.

Karateciler istanbulda also looks like an Italian cop-movie, with the same colourful characters and creative directing - except it has tons and tons of kung fu. Arkin is pretty good in what he does, and kills one baddie after another with convincing movie-kicks and a nice bitchslapping-attitude.

The final action scene is on top of roofs, and it reminded of a smaller version of the Jean-Paul Belmondo vehicle Fear Over the City. It looks quite dangerous in parts and I can't see any silly stunt doubles helping Arkin out when he rolls towards the edge of the roof or kicks the shit out of the bad guys.

Another fine thing with Ninja Killer is the fantastic soundtrack of electronic music. One of the tracks is, for example, something by Yellow Magic Orchestra. The use of a synth version of Flight of the Bumblebee is, to quote Teleport City, "really not much different than if they’d just slapped “Yakety Sax” onto the soundtrack".

Ninja Killer is out on a cheap-DVD in the UK, from InstantVision Ltd (IVL). The quality is really fine. Fullscreen, but clear and crispy (I always wanted to use the word like all the other home cinema nerds out there) and a lot better than I thought it would be. Probably taken from a digibeta master somewhere.

I movie I think most of you readers of Ninja Dixon will love and it's both cheap and easy to find! You know what to do!

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