Ninja in the Dragon’s Den (1982)

Posted in Reviews by - July 23, 2021
Ninja in the Dragon’s Den (1982)

This is a cult classic loved by kung fu fans around the world; a fabulous amalgamation of Chinese and Japanese filmmaking which adapts the chambara film to match the pacing of Hong Kong action cinema. It is also quite a bold and well-crafted directorial debut from Corey Yuen – a fight coordinator of considerable merit and experience even by this stage in his career, responsible for shaping the distinct look and feel for action at Seasonal Films. His sense of ambition leaps off the screen – a complicated duel on stilts and an imaginative kick-fest in a Japanese apartment best encapsulating the director’s brave vision – while Seasonal’s knack of nurturing and exposing fresh young talent shows a company once again at the forefront of martial arts cinema. Conan Lee, an American basketball player, makes his debut, fitted with a Jackie Chan charm and getting up to all kinds of mischief while protecting his uncle from the renegade ‘White Ninja’, an adversary hell-bent on avenging the death of his father. Hiroyuki Sanada, a teen idol in Japan and protégé of Sonny Chiba, plays the infamous ninja, traveling from Japan to China to carry out his personal mission. The chemistry between the two leads works rather well, and like all the best ninja films, its not averse to the occasional moment of goofiness: there’s a wonderfully kitsch opening sequence in which synchronised ninja move about to 1980s funk music, and then Hwang Jang-lee fails to harness his qi energy after staring too long at a porno mag. Great stuff.

AKA: Ninja Commando; Ninja Warriors.

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Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a keyboard in London, UK.

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