Agents of destruction. Warriors of darkness. Professionals of death.
We need more ninja movies on the blog. There needs to be more ninja movies on all blogs, even blogs about gardening. This little number comes from Sweden and is dubbed in English, though I think the actors were attempting to speak English during filming as it all syncs up well. I knew nothing about this going in, so was quite surprised about what I ended up watching. Read on.
Polish actor Krzysztof Kolberger stars as Mason, a CIA operative and apparent Ninja. After thwarting a street attack on a young woman he has been sent to protect, Nadia (Hanna Pola), Mason explains that her father Markov, a well respected Swedish scientist who has discovered a new method of creating limitless energy, is being held captive by the Russians and she is being hunted as a bargaining tool to make him divulge his work to the enemy. She's also a nightclub singer (and we have to endure a number, performed in a see through blouse). Mason loses her in the club when a machine gun massacre breaks out and she is whisked away, unconscious, to Russia.
At the same time another team of operatives have arrived in Russia to bust out the professor. During their daring and violent escape (involving darts to the head!) over the water the team are killed by Markov's own gorgeous assistant Natassia (Sirka Sander) during a firefight with the Russians. She convinces Markov that they were killed in battle and to get into a waiting helicopter bound for Sweden, even though it has a Russian flag on the side. Unbeknownst to him, he is not being returned to Sweden but instead being hidden away in a Russian palace to finish his work, but convinced that he is now in Sweden he does so. When word of this treachery reaches the CIA, Mason and a small team are sent to Russia to retrieve Markov and his daughter themselves. It's time for.. The NINJA.
This is obscenely violent. Sweden may not have made many gritty action films in the 80's so they made up for it with over the top gory deaths. I'm talking the Ninja decapitating assailants through the jaw and seeing the aftermath in ultra slow motion. In fact, all the deaths are filmed in slow motion to capitalise on the prosthetic blood and gore! When Mason is given his James Bond style briefing and is outfitted with some 'new toys' - one being a set of darts that cause the head to explode when they hit their target - you start anticipating the inevitable gorefest; and boy does it eventually deliver. The last twenty minutes are up there with the best horror movies of the period. Branding irons, eye gouging, flying fox samurai sword decapitations, crossbows of toxic gas and the aforementioned head-exploding darts. Pretty full on stuff, but it sets it apart from the Cannon Ninja films.
The title of the movie is a little misleading as the Ninja plays a definite back seat to Mason just being a CIA operative. There was really no need for him to dress up as a Ninja to complete the mission, but I guess VTC (the production company) wanted their own Swedish "Enter the Ninja" to put on the books. There's also a helicopter versus jeep chase to bring us back into standard action fair, something you wouldn't normally see in a Ninja film.
One thing that I can't work out with this movie is if it it takes place in some kind of alternate future. Why would I think that? Simple; the guns. When all the pistols in The Ninja Mission are fired they make a hysterical PEW PEW PEW laser sound. See the trailer below for an example. If not the future then I think the producers were trying to go with the sound of a silencer. I won't say that it's distracting because it adds to the fun quite a lot, though it is strange.
It's hard to write much more about this, as the plot is so straightforward and the action has to be seen, not described. The acting is fine, the dubbing not off-putting and the action top notch - if you can handle the bloodletting. The cold war scenery in Russia is nice to look at as much as Nadia and Natassia are. Recommended.
As watched on tape - the old Australian issue by K-Tel - this was fullscreen as most tapes are. Picture was clear and the sound was fine. There is a DVD set available in Germany of Ninja Mission and its sequel and another Swedish action film called Wardog, all in widescreen.
K-Tel VHS won off eBay. I think that German DVD set would be a wise purchase though.