Retro Review: ‘Ninja III: The Domination’

For this Retro Review I am turning once again to the legendary house of fun cheesy 80’s cinema, the Cannon Group. One of the things this production company was known for was creating a boom of ninja movies beginning with 1981’s Enter the Ninja and following it with 1983’s Revenge of the Ninja. In 1984, they would wrap up their “ninja trilogy” with this masterpiece of supernatural martial arts action Ninja III: The Domination.

On an ordinary golf course, the Black Ninja Hanjuro kills a lot of people… a LOT!!! As the police overwhelm him with bullets he vanishes via a ninja smoke bomb and encounters a young utility worker/aerobics instructor named Christie to whom he passes on his soul. This gives his spirit the ability to take over her body and use it to avenge himself against the cops who gunned him down. She is seemingly indestructible on her path of carnage as “only a ninja can kill another ninja”. Luckily, Goro Yamada has ventured over from Japan has ventured over to have his vengeance on the Black Ninja and possibly save Christy in the process. This means he has to lead Christy to a Shinto temple which happens to be in Arizona the soul of his enemy can return to its original body leading to a final battle.

Chances are if you watch a movie called Ninja III: The Domination you are not expecting Citizen Kane. That being said can you imagine how cool it would have been if Charles Foster Kane had to throw hands with ninjas to protect his sled? Rest assured the reasons you would have checked out this movie are all there with enough silly, stupid action to hype up anyone. Chances are you will be sold at the beginning when the evil ninja racks up an impressive body count on a golf course in a scene which is seemingly unconnected with the rest of the movie. The climax of the movie even features a battle with a zombie ninja who throws fireballs and brainwashes monks to be his minions. If these adrenaline-driving moments do not get you jumping up and “HIYA!!!” you may need to get your brain examined. Making this all the sweeter is that director Sam Firstenberg and his second unit ensure the fight choreography is fast-paced and executed to perfection. Of course a veteran martial arts performer like Sho Kosugi as Yamada is going to be great in this film but his co-star Lucinda Dickey proves to be a true surprise. In Breakin’ and Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo she proved she could deliver in performances with physical demands but in Ninja III she takes it to another level.

Of course it is not all fist-pumping ninja action, this film has a cool mystical/supernatural angle. With the plot point of Christie being at the mercy of an demonic ninja spirit, this gives the filmmakers the chance to add some horror elements. Mostly this means the young woman deals with Poltergeist-esque fx in her wonderfully 80’s-tastic apartment which can not be stopped even by her dancing. But there is a scene with James Hong as a mystic which is surprisingly atmospheric and effective.

If you are the type who loves, fast-paced ninja actions with a dose cheesy horror, Ninja III: The Domination is the movie for you. This Cannon flick is nothing short of a blast. While the second film of the “ninja trilogy” was a bit of a downer this one ensures the series ends on an incredibly high note.