"He was a ninja. It was his destiny to die a ninja. So is yours."
-unnamed evil ninja
There comes a time in everyone's life where they receive their calling. I know that mine is to spread the word—the word about shitty movies. Well, I just received an even more specific calling tonight—to spread the word about "Ninja Annihilation War." Now I should preface this by saying that I have spent the past two nights and all day today watching some of the weirdest, most obscure films and found footage at the Everything Is Festival hosted by Cinefamily at the Silent Theatre. I have watched hours of Chinese wizard battles, CG hentai porn, and even a screening of "The Pelican Brief" with a new, alternative experimental soundtrack performed live. But nothing, nothing could have prepared me for "Ninja Annihilation War." The video excerpt looked promising, but I started to panic when the presenter hyped it up. He explained the background of this particular VHS cassette, that it was found at a flea market labeled only as "NAW." That it was made in the 1980s when the ninja boom was at its craziest. That it was produced and directed by the Fung (pronounced "fang") brothers using whatever Caucasian actors were available in China so as to push the films international appeal. He even described the actors as, if your mom had divorced and was dating a man who did cardboard recycling—and it was his friends that were in the movie. All of this sounded too good to be true.
I won't go over the plot, because I can't—there really isn't one. I could try and fudge my way through it, but then I would only have to ask myself again, was that really the case? Was that really what happened? So instead I present you with snapshots of the movie instead, which do absolutely no justice to this amazing, amazing masterpiece. Over the course of the movie, you'll get to meet several incredible characters—then promptly forget about them. If you thought Michael Bay had cornered the market on continuity errors or plot holes, then ninjacide yourself. He is merely a rank amateur compared to the Fung brothers. After all, the main character (if you could indeed call him that) has trouble deciding when he has mustache, and when he doesn't.
There were a lot of things I did not know about ninja before watching this movie, and even more things that I thought were true about ninja I learned were not true. Like that they are all Asian—all the best ninja are white. And that the Soviet Union often used ninja as messengers. And that ninja aren't real—they're actually myths. Did you also know that it's a ninja legend that when a sword comes on top of another sword and it's covered with a red sheet, that it is a ninja challenge to duel that cannot not be accepted. I didn't know that, but thanks to "Ninja Annihilation War," now I do.
There are a lot of ninja in this movie. You don't title a movie "Ninja Annihilation War" without showing a few ninja, and show ninja they did. All different ninja colors. The ninja-black garbed ninja are only the lowliest of ninja, as the top tier ninja sport different ninja-colored ninja uniforms, like ninja-gold, ninja-blue, ninja-red, ninja-white, or my ninja-favorite, ninja-tigerstripe. And just so that the audience can be certain of who is a ninja, they wear brightly colored ninja headbands that say "Ninja" on them, often with a little ninja silhouette breaking up the word into "Nin" and "ja." Plus many of them sport manly Selleckesque ninja mustaches. And that whole ninja-covering-up-the-face thing? Real ninja only do that when they ninja fight. Otherwise it's ninja time to let that ninja mustache ninja breathe.
There's one really special part, too, and you will not miss it, nor will you ever forget it. A Chinese man comes home to find his wife in the shower. She entices him to scrub her back, so without even taking off his suit he jumps into the shower and starts kissing and rubbing on her. Never once does he actually scrub her back. They take it directly from the shower to the bed where miraculously they're completely dry. Then you see his balls. Twice. The scene ends with the two, completely nude, positioning into a 69. Only one other time have I seen this sex act performed in a mainstream movie, and that was "A History of Violence." The one in "Ninja Annihilation War" wins.
Much like it's history, in many ways the movie is a series of mysteries. Where are they? Could be Japan, could be Hong Kong, I lost track. When are they? At last check it was 10 years later, even though everyone was younger. Who was Billy? Who was the guy that killed Billy? Why did the guy in the wheelchair bring both beer (two cans out of a six pack) and wine to the meeting? Why didn't they have the meeting somewhere paved? How come nobody noticed the drugs in the lunchbox covered in aluminum foil? Where did the main character's wife go? Did she ever finish making the drunken crab dish after the crabs attacked her and he threw a ninja dirk at them? Who was the man he was following that was also a ninja? Who were the Jared Leto lookalike and the other cop dude? Who was that ninja who ran up the mountain for five minutes and what did he mean when he got to the top and yelled, "NINJAAAAA!!!" Did the German gymnast ever hook up with a ninja mentor? Where did Rick go with his bald head and pink sleeveless turtleneck? How did that drug dealer fit all of those joints into his mouth without damaging the goods? Who were the man and woman who got their own car chases in the movie? What happened to that woman after she beat up all those guys then collapsed on the ground? Why was that sex scene in the movie? And where can I get a copy of this movie?
The answer to that last question is the only one I can answer definitively, and sadly that answer is nowhere. As far as anyone knows, only one copy of the film exists, and it lies in the protective hands of the Alamo Drafthouse. These guardians protect the sacred NAW VHS, transporting it to various film events for special viewings. In many ways, they are like the Knights Templar, protectors of a holy artifact. But at the same time, they are also like missionaries, purveyors of that holy artifact. And I am but a lowly disciple, spreading the word. But please, heed my word. For if you should ever come across the opportunity to watch this movie, do so without any hesitation or doubt. I cannot stress this enough. Knowing what I now know, I will forever be chasing this film. If it weren't for the fact that Mrs. Winterbottom was also there and had seen it with me, I would think that what I saw was but a myth. And it is indeed a myth, but a myth that is as true and real as you or me.
My shitty movie rating: 10 turds out of 10NAW. The NAW scale is a specialized scale. After viewing "Ninja Annihilation War" I realized that my scale was completely off. Since how could "Ninja Annihilation War" be a 10 if "Anaconda" was also a 10? Now "The Wicker Man" should be and is a 10. But it is also not a 10 as "Ninja Annihilation War" is a 10. Thus the NAW modifies the current scale and adjusts it. A normalized 10 would only be like an 8NAW on the NAW scale. A 10NAW would be something like a 20 on the normalized scale.