Godfrey Ho rocketed into the Yakmala pantheon like a chimpanzee with a nuclear jetpack who is also suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome for some reason. This is because Ho’s movies make no goddamn sense. If the concept of logic ever wrote a suicide note, Ho would immediately turn it into a film. So naturally, I had to watch Diamond Ninja Force on youtube this weekend.
Tagline: A nightmare of deception and evil…
More Accurate Tagline: His mustache demanded vengeance…
Guilty Party: Godfrey Ho basically shot a movie and a half with Utah beefcake Richard Harrison, and then edited that footage to create every single film released in Hong Kong during the mid-‘80s. He doesn’t much care for logic, storytelling, or convincing terrified co-eds he’s not some Ritalin-addled Antichrist. He doesn’t really care for good kung fu, either. The true question is what does Ho care about? I have no earthly idea, but I’m pretty sure it’s riding a pale horse into Burger King headquarters right now.
Synopsis: The Black Ninja Clan has finally got some good news. The Black Ninja (Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Picture, but for obvious reasons I like to pretend is played by Rudy Ray Moore) died a century ago during a feud with the Diamond Ninja Force. The “treasure” is still where the Black Ninja died, and the Black Ninja Clan needs to get it. The problem is, the present owner of the land, Bernard Wong, won’t sell, so it’s up to Kogan, leader of the Black Ninja Clan, to convince Wong to sell.
So the Black Ninja Clan embarks on a real estate scam. No, seriously.
Suddenly, we’re over with designated White Guy Gordon (Harrison, still stubbornly refusing to learn how to pronounce “ninja”), who chats on the phone with some guy who thinks “Kogan is behind it.” Gordon couldn’t give less of a shit, making some excuse about getting his wife settled. Then Gordon proceeds to water his mustache, knowing that if the beast goes too long without sustenance, it might turn on him.
Meanwhile, Kogan gathers his Four Falcons together, who turn out to be the models for every single police sketch of every child molester ever. Two of them are noticeably tubby, a couple have wispy porn-staches, and there’s one in-shape Asian guy they probably picked up in a bathhouse in hopes he would show them around the underground scene in Bangkok. Kogan briefs everyone on the problem, and for some reason makes his point by doing karate at nothing, like he’s trying to beat a response out of the air. Apparently Bernard Wong is suddenly dead, and the new plan is to scare his daughter Fanny into selling. Kogan casually tosses off that they’re going to use the Ghost Ninja and everyone nods like he’s talking about a real thing, and not burbling at whatever night terrors he’s presently trying to karate chop.
Only one man can defeat the Black Ninja Clan: Gordon. He owns the Golden Ninja Warrior and is also the Golden Ninja Warrior. I’d say “the script is unclear” but if I did that every time it was, this review would end with a spiral of insane rambling, punctuated by a final note to my wife as I was dragged off by the Hounds of Tindalos.
The only way to beat the man who can beat you is to antagonize him, so Kogan goes after Lori, Gordon’s wife. First, he uses a little magic to make some goldfish pop out of a bowl and then he steps on them because fuck goldfish. Then he attacks Lori, demanding to know where the Golden Ninja Warrior is. She doesn’t know, and he kills her. Gordon finds her body later and after letting his mustache touch dead flesh, vows to feed it with vengeance.
After getting a death list from Steve, Gordon puts on his bright red ninja suit (I guess he’s the Golden Ninja Warrior because what with the coconut oil slathered over him in every shot, he’s sort of golden brown?) and goes off to slay the Four Falcons. Gordon murders the living shit out of all four of them pretty much effortlessly, and each time, he pulls down his ninja mask so that the mustache can see that its demands for death have been met. But nothing can truly sate its unholy hunger.
At this point, the mustache is just driving Gordon to kill anyone who has ever even heard of karate. This is the only explanation for finding this last guy, who isn’t even doing a kata. He’s just in his yard practicing The Robot. Two ninja stars to the nipples later, and the poor bastard is pushing up daisies. Sadly, the mustache is not finished, pushing Gordon to murder two cirque du soleil performers.
Gordon decides to stop fucking around just kill Kogan. First, he asks why the guy killed Lori since there was no beef between the Diamond Ninja Force and the Black Ninja Clan. The treasure is more important than that, so it’s time to fight. And holy shit. As bad as the fights were before, it’s like the mustache has devoured the last vestiges of karate in Richard Harrison’s body. It looks like two meth heads trying to peacefully decide who gets to urinate on who. Long story short, Gordon kills Kogan with a ninja star.
Maybe now the mustache will stop howling.
Life-Changing Subtext: Seek out the nearest white man to assist in all your real estate/ghost ninja needs.
Defining Quote: Gordon: “There are no ghosts. Only ghost ninjas.”
Standout Performance: Richard Harrison’s mustache. For obvious reasons.
What’s Wrong: I have a hunch I saw a truncated version of the real film, but I’m not sure seeing a full length would help clear anything up. It’s not like Godfrey Ho is known for being a competent, or even non-brain damaged, filmmaker. He fucks up on completely elementary aspects of movie making. He even fucks up with lighting, featuring scenes so dark you think your ocular nerves have taken the easy way out, and another scene lit so incompetently, a man’s clothes appear to change color mid-stride.
Flash of Competence: Fuck. I don’t know.
Best Scenes: There is basically a parallel plot that consists of nothing but Kogan fucking with Bernard Wong’s family. There’s Fanny, Bernard’s daughter, her husband, and their son Bobo. Yes, the boy’s name is Bobo.
Kogan makes phone calls in which he swings his sword around like he doesn’t understand the whole concept of telephones. He sends hallucinations, ghosts, and in one case a weird guy who hops into windows and beats his chest.
Gordon’s big solution is to send in Magic Chan, who is incredibly not a male stripper played by Chinese Channing Tatum. Anyway, Magic Chan does some good work, but really needs his magic mirrors if he’s going to clear up the infestation. Everyone treats this like a totally normal thing, like Magic Chan is just planning on tenting and fumigating the house.
Also, Magic Chan never appears onscreen. So maybe he is Chinese Channing Tatum.
Transcendent Moment: At several points, mustachioed bad ass Gordon talks on the phone to get some information. Of course, right? He’s like Batman, and Batman has a batphone. Only this time it’s a Garfield phone. Yep, Monday-hating lasagna-loving Garfield. And it’s not like Godfrey Ho wants to gloss over this. As Harrison hangs up, there’s a musical sting and a close up on the phone. Maybe Garfield is a bad ass symbol in China or something.
The version of Diamond Ninja Force that I watched is available in its entirety on youtube. What are you waiting for? It’s a modern classic!