Ninja Phantom Heroes (1987)

Posted in Reviews by - November 09, 2012
Ninja Phantom Heroes (1987)

Another patchwork hatchet job from Hong Kong cinema’s king of commerce Godfrey Ho, manufactured from old film stock and edited into something resembling a dog’s dinner. Ho produced many films like this purely for financial gain during the golden age of overseas video distribution, using gweilo actors in practically redundant roles to dress up as colourful ninja and fill up the running time. Ho would duplicate footage in more than one film, re-dubbing and repackaging cheap titles for a kung fu hungry crowd. Using this technique, Ho could pump out as many as 15 movies a year, covering his tracks by using pseudonyms and alternative titles which make categorising his expansive back catalogue a particularly grueling task.

The films suck, almost without exception, but Ho would be the first to admit his string of 80s ninja films were mere cash cows than thought pieces. This one follows the Ho formula to a tee, with Jeff Houston playing a US paramilitary agent sent undercover to Hong Kong to investigate a ninja school smuggling arms to the middle east. Then the film jumps to some different HK footage where an underdog fighter takes on the might of a Chinese triad gang. Wang Lung-wei crops up here as a hitman, unbeknownst to him, of course, as essentially all of the actors are performing in a separate film.

Ho’s action films gathered cult appeal over the years for being complete nonsense, but this one really makes no attempt to add up in any logical sense and is a tedious, tiring watch.

AKA: Ninja Empire; Ninja Knight: Thunder Fox

This post was written by
Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

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