Admittedly a mess, The Ninja Strikes Back is nevertheless tremendously entertaining, delivering sleazy and action-packed incidents from start to finish. A fight on the steps of Rome, a freeze frame decapitation, a balding businessman being overpowered by drug addled nymphomaniacs and a topless woman sunning herself on a beach only to then be shot at by a sniper are but some of the many highlights.
The kidnapping of an ambassador's daughter by two thugs, one of whom is dressed in drag for no particular reason, is the main raison d'etre for the globe-trotting exploits of Bruce Le. He's sometimes assisted in his quest to find her by an Italian policeman and a gun-toting woman with a huge, Gloria Brittain style hairdo. Quickly the plot goes from being barely coherent to completely obscure, lost in an endless succession of fight scenes and travelogue shots of Rome, Hong Kong and Paris where Bruce takes a detour to the fleshpots of Pigalle and ends up exchanging blows on the set of a French porn film. In the latter scene raunchy snippets of sex film within a film are juxtaposed with Bruce running to the location and a shot of Bruce punching a man abruptly cuts to a huge close-up of a hand making its way over a woman's backside, a memorable if unintentional piece of editing. Generally though the Paris section of the film seems to consist of scenes of Bruce and the Italian policeman threatening various Frenchmen; including one who has a gun pressed against his head and his face forced into a urinal. Bruce shakes each of the Frenchmen down for information as to the whereabouts of such and such a person, then tracks that individual down to ask them about the whereabouts of someone else and so on and so on. The film could be re-edited with all the scenes in the wrong order and it's doubtful anyone would be the wiser.
After his trip to Paris, Bruce takes a plane to his native Hong Kong where he discovers his father has been killed and his sister kidnapped by a pair of Japanese brutes. As coincidence would have it the two brutes in question, namely Harold 'Oddjob' Sakata and Bolo Yeung, are also responsible for the kidnapping of the ambassador's daughter. Still modelling the same lethal bowler he first wore in Goldfinger all those years ago, Sakata's character also boasts a gold plated glove which he uses to tear strips out of his enemies. Both Sakata and Bruce's former boss -depicted at one point by a close-up of a cat on his lap a-la Blofeld- have harem set-ups thus allowing the filmmakers to indulge in numerous shots of topless women emerging from pools or being dragged around by henchmen. Whenever Sakata walks into frame the James Bond theme plays in the background. The soundtrack also audaciously (and needless to say illegally) samples the Enter the Dragon theme and includes cover versions of everything from Boogie Wonderland to Chanson D'Amour and even Cat Stevens' Morning has Broken. Bruce eventually catches up with Sakata during a speed boat chase, and abruptly finishes him off by severing his arm and tossing him into the water.
Having seemingly exhausted the Bond villain references, the film's finale provides a recreation of the ending of Way of the Dragon and sees Bruce summoned to the Coliseum in Rome and challenged to a battle to the death by someone identified on the video box as 'Chick Norris'. Cartoon inserts of breaking bones and a pulsating heart symbolise Chick taking lethal blows from a victorious Bruce.
The Ninja Strikes Back was produced by the late exploitation workaholic Dick Randall, who also steps in front of the camera to play the ambassador, an honest man whose refusal to bend to political corruption has resulted in his daughter's kidnap. Erroneously billed as 'Dick Randal' in the credits; he spends most of his screen time pacing about a villa in a red smoking jacket, sucking on his trademark cigar and nervously awaiting news of his daughter's fate. In an autobiographical touch Dick is seen writing out a cheque that enables Bruce Le's adventures. It's a novelty to find Dick playing such a socially redeeming character, even so the use of pseudo-stars, the grey area soundtrack and the fact that the titular ninjas appear in the film for all of three minutes means The Ninja Strikes Back is more than a fitting testament to his shameless reputation.