Ninja III: The Domination Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review
Written by Robert Gold
Blu-ray released by Scream Factory
Directed by Sam Firstenberg
Written by James R. Silke
1984, 95 minutes, Rated R
Blu-ray released on June 12th, 2018
Lucinda Dickey as Christie
Sho Kosugi as Yamada
Jordan Bennett as Billy Secord
James Hong as Miyashima
Christie is a hard working woman who splits her time between a job at the phone company and teaching an aerobics class at a local gym. Her life is turned upside down when an evil ninja slaughters some yuppies on a golf course and invites an entire police force to tangle ass. The lawmen are less than impressed with his skills and continue to send reinforcements despite the ninja’s ability to wipe out dozens of cops, vehicles and a helicopter. The fight continues until our villain pulls some ancient ninja trickery and vanishes into a cloud of dust. It is here that Christie crosses paths with the dying man who promptly invades her body with his evil spirit. She is now under his control and must avenge his death by killing the last of the cops he battled.
On the bright side however, Christie has a new boyfriend... a cop (with a secret!) who took part in the murder of the ninja (okay, not really a secret.) He is on the defensive, since many of his fellow scumbag officers are being targeted by an unknown assassin, and on top of that, his new girlfriend is acting wonky. When things seem at their lowest, following a failed attempt at an exorcism (don’t ask), the image of hope arrives in the form of legendary good guy ninja, Sho Kosugi. Sho knows what the evil bastard was capable of and is determined to send him to hell.
Ninja III: The Domination is part of the excellent action subgenre of ninja movies that flooded the 1980s movie theatres before going into heavy rotation on late night cable television. Following the success of Enter the Ninja and Revenge of the Ninja, Canon Films’ producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus reunited with director Sam Firstenberg (American Ninja) to create this third installment in the franchise. None of these films have anything in common except that they all star Sho Kosugi and include the word “ninja” in the title. Firstenberg keeps the action front and center where it belongs and doesn’t worry too much about the plot getting in the way of the story.
By adding a supernatural element into the mix, Golan and Globus were able to cash in on the recent success of Poltergeist (1982) and they also included nods to both Flashdance and The Exorcist. The idea of the demon using a pretty lady as his vessel of vengeance serves dual purposes of pairing action with horror and showcasing a hot babe. Lucinda Dickey (Cheerleader Camp) had previously worked with Firstenberg on his films Breakin’ and Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, so Ninja III was rushed into production while everyone involved was still moderately famous. The cast is really kind of forgettable with Dickey sharing little in the way of chemistry with her costar Jordon Bennett. James Hong (Big Trouble in Little China) turns up briefly as the exorcist with good intentions, but the real star is Sho Kusogi (Pray for Death). The 1980s were kind to the man as he delivered the goods in one ninja action movie after another and the grace in his performance here is still top notch after three decades.
Ninja III: The Domination is not exactly a good movie, but it is highly entertaining. There is an over-the-top quality on display that should earn the filmmakers a generous amount of good will from its audience. Firstenberg takes the kitchen-sink approach and delivers everything he’s got into this fast-moving flick that is sure to satisfy. For best results, I suggest watching with a group of friends and make it a drinking game around the word “ninja”.
Video and Audio:
Ninja III receives a gorgeous new 4K restoration with surprisingly strong colors, inky blacks and a wealth of small object detail. The film is presented in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and has honestly never looked better. Black levels are solid and flesh tones appear natural throughout.
The film receives only a single 2.0 DTS HD audio track that preserves the picture’s original mono mix. There is a surprising level of clarity in both music and effects, particularly during the opening golf course attack. Dialogue remains clear and free from distortion and English subtitles are provided.
Scream Factory first released this title five years ago and now revisits it with an all-new Collector’s Edition complete with bonus interviews previously unavailable.
Supplements start with an audio commentary with director Firstenberg and stunt coordinator Steve Lambert. The two are clearly having a fun time reminiscing about this project and neither takes the film too seriously. Lambert is particularly engaging during the action sequences, especially the golf course massacre as he gleefully points out his numerous on-screen appearances doubling both the cops and the ninja. This is a fun track and definitely worth checking out.
Actress Lucinda Dickey revisits her time on the production in Dancing with Death (18 minutes). She reveals how she got into acting and dancing and how she won the part in Ninja III. She shares plenty of production stories and is clearly having a nice time discussing the project. Dickey looks great and is a welcome addition to this disc.
In Secord’s Struggle (10 minutes), actor Jordon Bennett discusses his time on the production and working with Lucinda Dickey and Sho Kosugi. He’s an affable guy who knows exactly what kind of movie he made and loves chatting it up.
In his interview segment Birth of the Ninja (12 minutes), Alan Amiel talks about his work in the ninja genre, writing and developing projects and performing as a fight choreographer. His memory is strong and he has a lot of information to share.
Isolated score selections are presented alongside a pair of audio interviews conducted by Michael Felsher (Red Shirt Pictures). The first interview is with composer Misha Segal and the other with production designer Elliot Ellentuck. Both men are excellent interview subjects and Felsher covers a lot of ground with his questions. The isolated music tracks sound terrific and are still awesome all these years later.
The original theatrical trailer is offered as a look at the marketing campaign.
The Ninja III trailer appears on Trailers from Hell with commentary by Oscar nominated screenwriter Josh Olson (A History of Violence).
There is an extensive photo gallery of production stills and artwork and a second gallery of behind-the-scenes images. Both galleries play as a silent slide show.
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