Written by: Michael Den Boer on June 1st, 2017
Theatrical Release Dates: USA, 1981 (Enter the Ninja), USA, 1983 (Revenge of the Ninja)
Directors: Menahem Golan (Enter the Ninja), Sam Firstenberg (Revenge of the Ninja)
Writers: Dick Desmond, Mike Stone (Enter the Ninja), James R. Silke (Revenge of the Ninja)
Cast: Franco Nero, Susan George, Shô Kosugi, Christopher George, Alex Courtney, Will Hare, Zachi Noy, Michael Dudikoff, Robert Wall (Enter the Ninja), Shô Kosugi, Keith Vitali, Virgil Frye, Arthur Roberts, Mario Gallo, Grace Oshita, Ashley Ferrare, Kane Kosugi (Revenge of the Ninja)
BluRay released: June 7th, 2017
Approximate running times: 99 minutes (Enter the Ninja), 90 minutes (Revenge of the Ninja)
Aspect Ratios: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (Both Films)
Rating: R 18+ (Australia) (Both Films)
Sound: DTS-HD Stereo English (Both Films)
BluRay Release: Umbrella Entertainment
Region Coding: Region B (Australia)
Retail Price: $29.99
Enter the Ninja: Cole (Franco Nero) is a former army veteran trained in the arts of all things ninja. While visiting his old army buddy Frank who is being harassed by a man named Charles Venarius (Christopher George) and his henchmen. Charles Venarius wants Frank’s land and his is willing to do anything to get it including murder. Cole decides to stay and give his friend backup against Charles Venarius and his thugs. Will Cole be able to help save his friends property or will a former enemy from his past intervene?
Dollars: “So who are you going to kill next, Mr. Ninja?”
Cole: “My friend, a ninja doesn’t kill. He eliminates and only for defensive purposes.”
In the 1980’s Menahem Golan and his cousin Yoram Globus would forever change the action film genre with a string of international hits released by their company Cannon films. They would help launch the careers of Michael Dudikoff and Shô Kosugi and make action heroes out of veteran actors like Franco Nero, Chuck Norris, Charles Bronson and Sylvester Stallone. Menahem Golan was also a director in his own right having directed twenty two films before he directed Enter the Ninja.
Enter the Ninja, like all the imitators that would follow it. Is all about action and unintentionally funny dialog that works better then it should. The plot while not to complicated does leave one scratching their head how a white man named Cole from the West could not only learn the ancient Japanese art of being a ninja but also be better then all those who taught him. The casting of Franco Nero as Cole helps make this oversight easier to swallow since Nero is an actor that always seems to make everything he is in better no matter how flawed the film is. Another plus for this film is just how good Nero looks during the fighting scenes. The same can not be said for his wardrobe choices of white leisure and track suites that look a tad to tight and offer very little circulation.
The action at times is brutal and bloody still it is amazing just how many places this one was banned during its original theatrical release. The action sequences are all well done and for the most part exciting. The rest of the film in between the action tends to drag and the direction also suffers during these moments.
The cast for Enter the Ninja is better then most action films with Nero being the stand out performer. One other performance that I found humorous was that of Zachi Noy as Siegfried ‘The Hook’ Schultz. The scenes in which he interacts with Franco Nero are the most memorable in the film. The rest of the cast never really shine enough to warrant any accolades about their performances. To actors who have made their fare share of martial arts films Michael Dudikoff and Robert Wall both make uncredited appearances in the film.
Enter the Ninja is a flawed film that manages to overcome most of its shortcomings and the end result is a highly entertaining film loaded with first rate action sequences.
Revenge of the Ninja: A Japanese man Cho whose family is well versed in the art of ninja relocates to America, after his family is slaughtered by Ninja’s. Shortly after his arrival, Cho with the help of a friend opens up a shop that sales dolls made in Japan. From there his life is turned upside down, when a gang of thieves steal all of the dolls which are filled with heroin. Things are further complicated, when his son is kidnapped and in reaction to his son’s life hanging in the balance, he is forced to reconnect with his past.
Revenge of the Ninja was directed by Sam Firstenberg, whose other notable films include, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo and American Ninja.
Riding high on the success of their previous Ninja films, Cannon Films with Revenge of the Ninja carry over all of the ingredients that contributed to the success of their previous similar themed films. And Revenge of the Ninja’s vengeance themed narrative does a superb job balancing the action set pieces with the more dramatic moments.
The star and main attraction of the film is Shô Kosugi who first rose to prominence as Franco Nero’s co-star in the film Enter the Ninja. And with Revenge of the Ninja, he delivers a rock solid performance that excels during the more action oriented moments. Other notable films that he has appeared in include, Pray for Death and Rage of Honor.
Another performance of note is Arthur Roberts (Not of This Earth) in the role of Braden, a close friend of the protagonist who is also well versed in the art of ninja. Performance wise his characters proves to be a formidable nemesis for the protagonist.
As mentioned before, this film delivers and then some when it comes to its action set pieces. And a few of the more notable action set pieces include, the film’s opening setup where the protagonists’ family is slaughtered by ninjas’. Other standout action set pieces include, the scene where the protagonist chases down on foot that thieves who have just stolen dolls from his business he owns and the film’s final showdown which serves up a very satisfying climax for the events that have juts unfolded.
Enter the Ninja and Revenge of the Ninja are presented on a 50 GB dual layer (30.1 GB) BluRay and both films are presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Colors look accurate, details look crisp, black levels remain strong throughout and there are no issues with compression.
Each film comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD stereo mix in English. Both audio mixes sound, clean, clear, balanced and robust when they need too.
Extras for this release include, reversible cover art and trailers for Enter the Ninja (2 minutes 53 seconds) and Revenge of the Ninja (1 minute 38 seconds).
Overall Enter the Ninja and Revenge of the Ninja, get solid audio / video presentations from Umbrella Entertainment.
Note: The first three screenshots are from Enter the Ninja and the last three screenshots are from Revenge of the Ninja.