28 July 2004 | brianquinn1
Great Kung Fu fighting meets Hilarious Campiness; Old-school Kung Fu Gold
This movie was full of very good, fast-paced Kung Fu fighting. Most of it was between Ninjas and Shaolin Monks. The presence of the Shaolin Temple in any Kung Fu movie is a good sign. I love to see ninjas in Kung Fu movies, and this movie used them wonderfully. This is a period film, that takes place devoid of any guns or modern technology. I vastly prefer period Kung Fu films to those set in present day.
Some may say I am somewhat of a Kung Fu movie expert, and the only actor that I was familiar with in this movie was Alexander Lou, of "Shaolin Versus Lama" fame (which, by the way, is an incredible movie). Lou put s forth a great performance. The fighting is largely wire-free; most wire usage is limited to ninjas jumping from trees and other minor feats. There's lots of hand-to-hand combat, as well as plenty of weapon usage, particularly sticks and swords. The best aspect of the fighting (which is a very important one within all Kung Fu movies) is the fact that they are not too far apart. People watch Kung Fu movies to see Kung Fu fighting, and 45 minutes of solid plot-development just doesn't cut it. In that department, this film keeps the momentum fairly steady.
In addition to the great fighting, this movie contained lots of very funny and amusing campiness. Any Kung Fu fanatic should understand that part of the Kung Fu movie charm is their characteristic camp-factors. This movie contains all the standards: ridiculously long facial hair/eyebrows, poorly-executed camera tricks, cliché zooms and pans. In addition to these delightful gems, the humor in this movie (be it intentional or not) goes above and beyond the call Buddha. These gems include disappearing ninjas, gimmicky cat costumes with tree-scaling claws, and ninjas with burrowing powers comparable to a mole.
If you want to be surprised by hilarity, then skip to the next paragraph. But, for those of you who are curious about the 3 funniest parts of the movie... 1) I saw an overdubbed version. There was a black Shaolin monk from Harlem in the movie, whose voice was clearly that of a skinny white guy trying to sound like Isaac Hayes. And it only made it better that he spoke in stereotypical 70s street, with lines such as "She's ash, so don't give me this trash!" and "You must be jivin'!" and met with retorts such as "The ghetto in the sky is where you're headed!", "Don't give me that rap!", and simply "You black son of a bitch!" 2) The waterspiders, which are essentially spider-shaped rafts that ninjas ride, are possibly the lease graceful and lease effective device i have ever seen a ninja use. It's hilarious to watch them paddle their spiders around as they struggle to keep up with the Shaolin Monks. 3) Nothing beats full frontal fighting. A woman is bathing when ninjas attack, so naturally she jumps out of the tub and starts Kung Fu fighting with no modesty concerning her clearly visible cooch and boobies (to both the ninjas and the audience).
In summary, I thought this movie delivered a good balance of expert fighting, and funny gimmicks. If you're looking for a moving drama, or a tear-jerking romance, then this movie is not for you. But who watches a Kung Fu movie expecting those things anyway? So, for being an authentic Kung Fu period piece that isn't afraid to be what it is, I give Ninja: The Final Duel an 8 out of 10. Not the best Kung fu movie I've ever seen, but certainly a worthy film that does the genre justice.