One of the many reasons horror films are so appealing is that they are so flexible and there are so many different sub-genres. Slashers, ghosts, demons, monsters, you name it. Sometimes the horror film is mixed with different genres, usually comedy. But why stop there? Why not do a soap opera slasher movie? Or a western ghost story? What will the results be? Well, we don't have to wonder about what would happen if you mixed a ninja movie with a posseson flick. Why would you, when you can just watch Ninja III: The Domination?
Before you watch Ninja III you must realize this is produced by Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, producers that made some of the campiest stuff in the 1980s along with the Cannon Group. That being said, don't expect a big-budget, extravagant A-lister. Now that I've got that out of the way, let's talk about Ninja III.
Ninja III has one of the greatest openings ever committed to celluloid. The Black Ninja goes to a golf course and lays waste to everyone, including like twenty cops who try and stop him. However, the police manage to gain the upper hand and shoot him down, but not before he runs into the woods and spots a female line-worker/aerobics instructor named Christie. Just before he dies, he grabs onto her and transfers his soul into her body.
The ninja powers inde of her begin to peek through in Christie's everyday life. When she sees a girl about to get mugged outde a gym, she fights them off. Then the ninja spirit inde her begins to remember the cops who shot him down. Christie begins having blackouts and when she wakes up, she can't remember anything, but she gets new bruises and scratches after every blackout. It turns out that when Christie has blackouts, the Black Ninja's soul completely takes over her body, dons ninja gear, and murders the cops who killed him. Luckily, the good ninja Yomada has arrived from Japan to put and end to the Black Ninja's reign of terror.
While this may seem more like a ninja movie than a horror movie, a while into the movie, there's a scene where Christie's boyfriend Billy takes her to a Japanese spiritualist to see if something truly has possessed her. The spiritualist (played by James Hong from Big Trouble in Little China) commands the spirit to take over Christie's body. The Black Ninja complies, and we get a fantastic posseson sequence that deserves a spot next to Linda Blair's performance in The Exorcist.
For those wondering about Ninja I & II, they are two completely unrelated films called Enter the Ninja and Revenge of the Ninja. The acting in Ninja III is all quite good, especially Lucinda Dickey as Christie. Dickey had that great balance of sweet & salty: Able to pull off being a cute line-worker/aerobics instructor and being able to be the villain. The always incredible Sho Kosugi plays Yomada, the good ninja. Even though I enjoyed his presence, I felt he could have used more screen time. There's a great battle at the end where Yamada goes up against the Black Ninja, now in his original body. It's a fight that spans thirteen minutes, and it's really great for ninja fans.
Being a fan of both ninja and horror movies, I really should have liked this more than I did. The film does have many merits, but I thought it dragged in some places, and some parts of the fights weren't up to snuff. The one true horror scene in the movie is very nicely done, and it might have been nice to see more of them. If you're a horror fan and you despise ninja movies, stay away at all costs. If you like horror movies and kind of enjoy ninja movies, it's worth watching, but don't expect anything great. If you like horror movies and ninja movies, you'll find much to enjoy. If you like ninja movies and hate horror movies, well, you're on the wrong te, now aren't you?
Or, if you're really that curious: