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Maximum Action Double Feature: 9 Deaths Of The Ninja/Killpoint (BCI Eclipse) DVD Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Maximum Action Double Feature: 9 Deaths Of The Ninja/Killpoint (BCI Eclipse) DVD Review



    Released by: BCI Eclipse
    Released on: August 29th, 2006.
    Director: Emmett Alston/Frank Harris
    Cast: Sho Kosugi, Brent Huff, Emelia Crow, Blackie Dammett, Cameron Mitchell, Richard Roundtree, Leo Fong, Stack Pierce
    Year: 1985/1984
    Purchase From Amazon

    Maximum Action Double Feature: 9 Deaths Of The Ninja/Killpoint - Movie Review:

    Way back in 2006, BCI Eclipse hit us right between the eyes with a wonderfully trashy bad action movie double feature!

    DISC ONE - 9 DEATHS OF THE NINJA:

    There was a brief period in the 1980s when Sho Kosugi was the coolest man in the movies. It started when he squared off against Franco Nero in Enter The Ninja and continued through Revenge Of The Ninja and Ninja III: The Domination. He even had a gig on TV making life difficult for Lee Van Cleef in The Master. By the time that 9 Deaths Of The Ninja hit, however, that time had come to an end - Sho just didn't realize it yet (though he'd find his stride again shortly afterwards with Pray For Death and Rage Of Honor for Cannon Films).

    The film starts on a high note - Sho, in the role of Spike Shinobi, struts around with his shirt off while dry ice machines kick up the fog quotient and women with bad hair and Flashdance leotards dance around him as he fondles his sword for the camera and squints. From there we learn about DART, a super elite government task for that specializes in taking down terrorists and of which Spike is the leader.

    DART is called into action when a German dope dealing terrorist named Alby The Cruel (Blackie Dammett, the man who helped shit Anthony Kedis into the world) springs an Arabian bad guy named Rankin (Vijay Amritraj who periodically shows up in Walker: Texas Ranger) out of jail and kidnaps a busload of school kids and a United States Congressman.

    Spike, along with his teammates Steve Gordon (Brent Huff of Gwendoline) and Jennifer Barnes (Emilia Crow of Hollywood Vice Squad), heads off to the jungles to stop the crazy German dope dealer and his crew from killing off the hostages but what they don't count on is Alby's minions, lead by a Pam Grier wannabe named Honey Hump (Regina Richardson who shows up briefly in Tight Rope), some random ninjas, and a few tough midgets.

    The question that immediately comes to mind while watching this film is 'are we supposed to take it all seriously?' Someone somewhere in the studio had to know that Emmett Alston (who made a bit of a name for himself with New Years Evil and has since gone on to make other bad ninjas movies, most recently 3 Little Ninjas And The Lost Treasure) wasn't making a serious film - at least you'd think so. If that was the case, is this movie horrible or is it actually a brilliant parody of the ninja movie phenomena that was sweeping North America in the eighties? No one but Alston knows for sure but what is for certain is that despite the fact that 9 Deaths Of The Ninja makes almost no sense, it's still a lot of fun.

    A few things to look out for in the film, aside from the jaw-dropping opening credits sequence, are Spike's obsession with lollipops, the presence of Sho's two kids - Shane and Kane playing Shane and Kane - hostages, Blackie Dammett's horrifying German accent, Rankin's incessant and ever so sinister laugh, and some great random explosions. Kosugi looks confused throughout much of the film while Huff runs around doing his best impersonation of Face from the A-Team. It's all completely awful but entirely entertaining in the way that only the most sublime bad movies tend to be.

    DISC TWO - KILLPOINT:

    There was also a brief period in the seventies where Richard Roundtree was the coolest man in the movies. He tore the man a new one as Shaft in three fantastic and groundbreaking blaxploitation films and then went on to find work in films like Diamonds, One Down Two To Go and Q - The Winged Serpent. He was a suave and charismatic leading man and those charms continue to find him steady work to this day, even if his leading man years are behind him. By the time 1984 had come around, his career wasn't what it once was and he found himself alongside Cameron Mitchell (of The Toolbox Murders and Viva Knievel) and the perpetually uncool Leo Fong in Frank Harris' Killpoint.

    Joe Marks, played with little enthusiasm by Cameron Mitchell, and his gang of tough guys successfully rob a military compound and make off with a whole lot of high powered firearms that they intend to unload on the black market. They know that there's a demand for this type of stuff in the Los Angeles crime scene and so they figure they're going to get rich, and fast. Marks and his right hand man, Nighthawk (Stack Pierce of Hammer) look like they're going to get away with it all. Their plan works well, initially - sales are great and the money is coming in but the result of this is an increase in violent crime in and around the Los Angeles area and one of these crimes takes the life of the wife of Lt. James Wong (Leo Fong).

    When he gets word that she's not only been killed but was raped before her death, he decides he's had enough and so he teams up with an federal agent named Bill Bryant (Richard Roundtree) to put a stop to this crime spree.

    Together they begin combing the underworld and slowly but surely they start tying together some clues that put them on Marks' trail. The higher ups don't like what Wong and Bryant are up to but they don't care, they're hell-bent on taking things to the next level and giving the criminal scum that are ruining Los Angeles a taste of their own medicine.

    Cameron Mitchell absolutely owns this film! He's as over the top as he's ever been, yelling at his dog and trying to teach it to smoke or shooting spray cans and televisions when he's not mowing down kids in a Chinese restaurant or killing hookers. He's the very living embodiment of the truly evil villain and he makes this movie one to watch - and that's saying something, because quite honestly the story stinks and the direction isn't very good.

    The movie jumps around a fair bit and doesn't really explain much at all until the end where it's all spoon fed to us in a veiled attempt to make up for the fact that the script couldn't be bothered to fix anything until it was too late. None of that matters, however, because Cameron Mitchell gets loads of screen time and spends it all going bonkers on everyone and everything he sees.

    Roundtree is his usual slick self here, but it would have been nice to see him try a little harder with some of the material. He more or less phones it in and while a phone call from Richard Roundtree is still pretty cool, this isn't his best work. The same can be said for Leo Fong, who looks like he's about to fall over for large portions of the film and who has all the grace of an elephant.

    Maximum Action Double Feature: 9 Deaths Of The Ninja/Killpoint - DVD Review:


    9 Deaths Of The Ninja is presented in a non-anamorphic 1.85.1 widescreen transfer that is unfortunately over matted from the film's original 2.35.1 aspect ratio (there is a PAL release available from Future Film that presents the film in its OAR). Aside from the 16x9 issue and the matting, the image looks pretty good even if it is a bit on the soft side in some scenes. Detail levels are pretty decent and black levels stay fairly strong save for one or two spots where they're just a little brighter than they should be. Overall, however, 9 Deaths Of The Ninja looks alright and even with the flaws, this transfer is miles above the previous pan and scan, heavily cut release from Rhino.

    Killpoint arrives in this set in its original 1.78.1 aspect ratio and this transfer is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The image is a little strong here thanks to better color reproduction and an overall sharper picture. Flesh tones look lifelike and natural and while there is some mild aliasing present there aren't any issues with mpeg compression artifacts nor is there an abundance of edge enhancement. For the most part this is a clean, clear picture that does a perfectly good job with the material at hand.

    Both films are presented in English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo tracks that are free from all but minor traces of hiss and which do a fine job with dialogue, sound effects and background music. Levels are properly balanced and bass levels are strong.

    Extras on this release are pretty slim but you will find trailers for Low Blow, Hell On Wheels, Hot Target, Scorpion (which looks amazing - please let there be a DVD in the works!) on disc one and trailers for Top Cop, The Hostage, 9 Deaths Of The Ninja and Terror In The Jungle on the second disc. A slipcase fits over the keepcase reproducing the same cover art.

    Maximum Action Double Feature: 9 Deaths Of The Ninja/Killpoint - The Final Word:

    Two goofy eighties action films that should definitely please fans of b-movie shoot'em ups and martial arts movie, 9 Deaths Of The Ninja/Killpoint hit DVD in a decent and very affordable double feature presentation.



























































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