While interesting, this long and well made documentary from the Canadian Broadcasting Company lacks the perspective that would allow for a less biased understanding of the war. It is worth watching as an artifact of both the war itself, and the coming to terms that the U.S. underwent in the 80's.
Video Superstore in Seattle suburb Shoreline Washington probably once held a Christian section, because this label was on my cassette copy of the finest in video incarceration prostheletization, 1976's Set Free.
I know that Key was only the distribution arm of FOX, but I fuckin' love those rainbow striped boxes. They were all glued shut on the top and had flaps glued open on the bottom. The branded video boxes of the early VHS years, when each distributor had their own distinctive design are my absolute favorite. Key and VCII are great ones, as were the old boxes from RCA/Columbia. Paragon was good too but was a little bit of a latecomer as was Charter.
In many ways I wish I had the space to keep all of these boxes around. Then again, I know that I don't want to be tied down my material possessions. Property is confinement, rent is theft!
Alas, my tape has no box and so, I borrowed this from the ether.
Hong Kong/Thailand - 198?
Director - Godfrey Ho
Trans World Entertainment, 1988, VHS
Run Time: 1 hour and thirty-five whole minutes
Here we have yet another hodgepodge honky-ninja misadventure from frankenfilm auteur Godfrey Ho. Ninja Fantasy is hands-down the best Weak-Chinned-Euro-Ninja-Drug-Kingpin-in-China film to ever be set in a Thai strip mine. Even though the overall plot, if you can say that the plot is really over “all” of the film, isn’t so clever that it requires serious effort at attention paying, it takes on a whole new energy in this particular patchwork context. So, an Euro-ninja in a brightly colored outfit is running a drug smuggling operation, and another Euro-ninja is the Drug Enforcement Agent sent to take him down; In Thailand the other half of the film would have us believe. Or maybe not. Thanks to local signage in several scenes, it was obviously Thailand, but I don’t remember anybody actually saying “Thailand.” It hardly matters where when you’re buying cheap foreign films in bulk for repurposing. It’s all going to be chopped to bits and dubbed over with some occidental-ninjas in a cheerful palate of identical outfits anyway.
However easily disparaged his work may be, one has to give Mr. Ho some credit for highly creative ninja antics on a half-shoestring-budget. Not since Robert Tai’s 1986 water-spider riding ninja masterpiece Ninja the Final Duel have ninjas performed so many chuckle-inducingly miraculous feats of mid-attack lunacy as we are blessed with in Ninja Fantasy. (And that was a whole film.) Of course, these are all too brief, and once the temporary surge of endorphins wears off the weary viewer, one is left speculating that lest he run out, Mr. Ho only allotted himself a single clever idea per film.
The longstanding rivalry between our two main characters comes to a head when the sidekick Agent is mercilessly kidnapped by the sidekick Smuggler ninjas. In the interim some conflict over mining-rights, inheritance and related profits comes to a head in the remaining scenes. The plodding, mind-numbing progress of the plot, and incomprehensible implied connection between the two constituent films notwithstanding, Ninja Fantasy is among Godfrey’s finest barely-watchable cinematic abortions. As much as one attempts to enjoy watching -and the joy is in the attempting, not the watching- these films would be far better served as a series of action packed ninja-shorts. Just leave out the “second unit” footage culled from abroad and reassemble the white guys into a half hour action-ninja-episode, say two or three to a volume. Should any poor bastard with the inclination to deconstruct these patchwork films read this poorly written essay, and decide to pursue just such an ill-advised business plan, get in touch- I’d be willing to invest.
A full box from, you guessed it, Rare Kung Fu Movies.com
This delightful little silver sticker was pasted on the side of my not so delightful videocassette copy of Rebel High. Perhaps someone who rented it from Movie Mania out in suburban Seattle can tell me how it ends since they ruined the tape and then gave it to a used shop!
Mortal Kombat: The Animated Video: The Journey Begins
United States - 1996
Director - Kevin Droney
New Line Home Video, 1997, VHS
Run Time - 1 hour
Had I not staggered across this shortly after reveling in the glory that is Expect No Mercy, I wouldn't have remembered the referrent. So, no thanks to Billy Blanks for reawakening memories of high-school, and thanks to my brain for stiffling them.
A number of years ago I bought this tape for a few bucks. Anticipating much revelry and low budget entertainment, I was not disappointed until about 30 minutes in when the picture went staticky then black. The audio kept playing just fine, I could hear all the bad jokes and sight gags still pluggin' away. But the nature of most physical humor and prop-comedy, especially when it's bad, is that it needs to be seen. No dice. I still haven't found a VCR that will play this tape. Plus, somebody cut the box to fit a clamshell, that just adds insult to injury.