Ninja III: The Domination (1984)
“Ninja III: The Domination”
Genre: Action, Horror
If you saw a ninja movie during any part of the 1980's, there was a 100% chance Sho Kosugi was in that movie. Sho Kosugi was commonly cast as "the evil ninja" in many action films and television series, including the first American ninja television series. 1984's 'The Master' starred a finely aged Lee Van Cleef fighting (you guessed it) an evil ninja played by Sho Kosugi.
Ninja films in the 80's were not pretty. Like blaxploitation films, which according to Wikipedia were low budget and "tend to take place in the ghetto, dealing with hit men, drug dealers and pimps", Ninja films in the 80s were low budget and often about ninjas, hit men, drug dealers, and pimps. There was often a lot of steamy ninja sex. And this is where Ninja III: The Domination comes in.
First a note: There was no Ninja, or Ninja II. There were '1981's 'Enter the Ninja' and 1983's Revenge of the Ninja (both naturally starring Kosugi), but neither were related in any way to the plot of Ninja III. This was however just one year after Jaws III came out, so it makes perfect sense.
Directed by Sam Firstenberg (of 'American Ninja' and 'Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo' fame) the plot of Ninja III involves ninjas, ghosts, a mountain of dead police officers, the late David Chung as the "evil ninja", and of course Sho Kosugi. David Chung plays a mysterious, evil ninja who, upon donning his gear in a secret cavern hideaway, proceeds to slaughter an entire golf course of high society yuppies as seen in this short but enjoyable eight minute clip:
YouTube - Ninja 3 Domination Yuppie Golf Slaughter
From there it gets pretty ridiculous. The evil ninja is finally surrounded by police and killed but not before he is able to successfully transfer his soul into the hard body of a nearby power line worker played by Lucinda Dickey. So first star goes to this very sexy woman now possessed with evil ninja powers. The second star goes to a scene where she pours V8 juice over her half-naked body, while being possessed by the evil ninja's spirit.
Using poor Lucinda as his host, the evil ghost ninja proceeds to take out the what is left of the police force. Lucinda's idiot cop boyfriend uncovers her secret. Sho Kosugi shows up as the good ninja, ready to battle for her soul in the classic mountaintop ninja final battle format. Third star for one of the most epic mountain temple fight scenes ever put on film, complete with smoke bombs, explosions, ninja sorcery, and Sho Kosugi. "Only a ninja can destroy a ninja".
YouTube - Ninja 3 Domination Final Battle
The fourth and final star comes for this film's sheer timelessness. Even given the grainy 80's visuals and relatively low production value, this film contained some of the best fight choreography, cinematography, humor, eroticism, weapons fighting, and overall ninja mayhem ever seen up to that time in a martial arts film. It remains an enjoyable guilty pleasure.