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Blu-ray & DVD Review

DVD cover

The Ninja Trilogy
(Blu-Ray & DVD Dual Format)


Starring: Shô Kosugi and Franco Nero
Distributor: Eureka Entertainment
RRP: £39.95 (Blu-Ray & DVD Dual Format)
Certificate: 18
Release Date: 18 January 2016

The seventies and the eighties were a great time for cheap exploitation films, although film makers like Roger Corman had been creating cheap films for much longer, by the nineteen eighties the economic model still held much attraction, especially to a studio like Cannon, which was sinking beneath a series of bad film choices.

At the time, the studio was in the business of turning itself around and the new proprietors, cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, were not above making expensive movies, but most of the output relied on buying cheap scripts and making the films on a shoestring in the hope of capturing whatever trend was about. The ninja trilogy of films fell under this umbrella.

The Ninja Trilogy is really a series of films, released on a dual format 5-disc addition (Blu-ray & DVD) although this review will only consider the DVD as the Blu-rays were not supplied. The three films in the trilogy are only really connected as each contained martial artist Sho Kosugi. Although he was not the star of the first film, he was the star of the remaining two.

Enter the Ninja (1981. 1 hr 38 min 38 sec) was directed by Menahem Golan.

Cole (Franco Nero) having completed his Ninja training in Japan goes to visit an old friend, Frank Landers (Alex Courtney) who is being pressured to sell their land. Charles Venarius (Christopher George) intends to get his hands on the land due to its vast and hidden oil reserves. He will stop at nothing, including a rival Ninja, who knows and hates Cole.

It’s not a great film and even the inclusion of Susan George (Straw Dogs (1971)) cannot elevate it above the level of a cheesy late night movie.

The film comes with one extra, the Trailer (2 min, 55 sec), you also get the option for English subtitles. The print is nice and clean with no obvious faults or artefacts. The film is show with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1.



Revenge of the Ninja (1983. 1 hr 30 min) was directed by Sam Firstenberg from a James R. Silke script. It was the first western film which starred Shô Kosugi. In this film Shô swaps from being the bad guy to being the good guy.

Following the murder of his family, apart for his son and mother, Cho turn his back on the life of a Ninja and takes his surviving relatives to the safety of America. He ties cloth around his sword vowing never to take it up again.

With his family safe, Cho starts a business importing dolls with his friend Braden (Arthur Roberts). Things seem to have settled, until one day Cho’s son accidentally breaks one of the dolls, revealing that they are full of heroin.

The disc comes with English subtitles as well as the Theatrical Trailer (1 min, 40 sec). Sam Firstenberg (3 min, 14 sec) provides an introduction to the film. Sam, also alongside the stunt coordinator, Steven Lambert, provides a full length commentary which, if you're a fan of the film is informative. The print is fine and presented with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1.



Ninja III: The Domination (1984. 1 hr, 33 min, 14 sec) is the third in the loose trilogy of ninja films with Shô Kosugi. The film was directed by Sam Firstenberg from a James R. Silke script.

It would be fair to say that at this stage the audience for this type of low budget film was fading fast, partly due to the changing nature of audience desire and partly because, frankly the films just got worse. Even an attempt to mash together the ninja genre with a slice of supernatural horror and some of the least sexy scenes committed to film could not bring in the teen audience the film craved.

Christie (Lucinda Dickey) is just going about her day job, putting up telephone lines, when she comes across the dying body of a ninja, who possess her. The spirit then uses Christie to hunt down the police officers who caused his death. Only a Ninja stands a hope of defeating the ninja ghost.

Like the previous disc this one comes with a full length commentary, once again featuring Sam Firstenberg and Steven Lambert.



So, three films which harks back to a particular era of ninja exploitation. In a strange way with the eighties clothes and hair cut as well as the cheesy acting, there is almost enough to enjoy here. Unfortunately, the films never quite made the so-bad-they’re-good category, although the last one comes pretty close.


Charles Packer

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Blu-ray & DVD