Sunday, 26 May 2013


This was the first Joseph Lai film I ever saw, and I just got a vintage copy on VHS (finally at a decent price) and revisited one of the most profoundly odd cinematic experiences of my life. Quick refresher: Joseph Lai and his company IFD bought up a bunch of failed East Asian action movies, retitled them and cut them together with new footage of white guys in ninja costumes having ludicrous battles, then gave each atrocious film a frankly hilarious dubbing job. 

Ninja Hunt was my introduction to these films and the concept of recycled movies, and as a teenager I watched it again and again, just astounded at something so mad and awful could get made. Plus, I wanted to be a dayglo ninja like the guys in these mental films. Yeah, for some reason at the time I thought they were the coolest thing I'd ever seen. 

I guess the attraction is that these films felt alien to me. Those glimpses of other cultures mixed with comic-book style ninja fighting were wildly appealing, giving the films a weird, dreamlike quality with their own odd internal logic and shoddily spliced footage. I loved them to bits. 

Ninja Hunt concerns a gang who have stolen a top secret formula, DAK10, which switches on a desire to kill in anyone it comes into contact with. A ninja overlord wants it, as does a government agency in the US, who (naturally) send out a ninja master (the awesomely wooden Richard Harrison) to deal with the case. 

And thus, with nonsensical scene after nonsensical scene, including lots of sex, club nights, talking around smoky tables and multicoloured ninja gymnastics, the film plays out to a sudden and baffling climax. It makes no sense at all, it looks and sounds awful, is cheap and tacky and woefully made, but it's brilliant. Well, brilliant in a way that only lovers of the Joseph Lai ninja movies can understand, anyway. A weird little gem.

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