Chinese Super Ninjas/Review
From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
A mind-blowing mixture of cartoonish violence and dizzying acrobatics, Chang Cheh's final feature for the Shaw Brothers takes on a surreal quality, depicting a world of almost supernatural powers and a limitless ability to bend gravity. During this feature's bevy of wildly exciting fight sequences, we're treated to colorful set pieces, impressive weaponry, and a singular, almost child-like vision; an alternate reality where men can fly and the good guy prevails in the end, despite the odds
Cheh's token good guys are Tien-hao and Li, two brothers participating in a competition between their fighting crew and a rival school of thought. During this supposedly harmless competition, one of their teammates is shamed into ritual suicide, forcing Tien-hao and Li to defeat their friend's slanderer. After being embarrassed, this nefarious fighter takes his own life as well, but not before putting a curse upon Tien-hao and Li's school. In order to remove this curse, the boys and their brothers must battle against the Five Elements, a ninja school that takes its fighting style from gold, wood, water, fire, and earth.
For the gold element, the skilled ninjas utilize glowing shields and projectile blades against their attackers, blinding the fighters with the hypnotic twirl of the shield while surprising them with the detachable knives. The wood element is just as deceptive, forcing the fighters to search the trees for the well-camouflaged ninjas obscured by the bark and leaves. From this vantage point, the ninjas can easily attack without need for defense and jump out of the foliage when caught.
The wire work and choreography is spectacularly done in the wood segment, with the ninjas effortlessly flying through the air and striking with a startling precision. The weapons of choice are also a kung-fu flick fanatic's dream, ranging from deadly climbing claws to knife-cloaked fingertips (which were reminiscent of Freddy Krueger's glove).
Cheh's color spectrum is also quite attractive, featuring bright blues in the water element and neon reds in the fire segment. This candy-colored visual palette also benefits from the glorious and nearly endless streams of blood, which drip from chests, spray from heads, and drain from removed organs. This may be one of the more violent efforts from Cheh, but it is also one of his most exuberant and exciting, feeling like an intense comic book that bursts right off of the page.
Rarely coming up for air (despite the brief "love interest" moments) and constantly diving into the more spectacular and insane, Chinese Super Ninjas is a must-see for exploitation buffs, boasting over-the-top violence, exceptional fight choreography, and an enveloping, cooler than cool meta-world that is definitely an influence on the modern Asian cinema of Yimou Zhang and Takashi Miike.
Reviewed by Mdeapo