16 August 2004 | kumanoken
Sheer ridiculous fun
As a rule, even though I am a dyed-in-the-wool hardcore fan of martial arts films, I have to go on record and state that I have a blazing hatred for ninja movies. Good movies about ninjas are few and far between, such as Super Ninjas, the Kozure Okami (Lone Wolf and Cub) series and the outstanding Challenge of the Ninja (aka Shaolin Challenges Ninja), so when you find a good one, cherish it. Most of the others are simply mediocre like the suckass Sho Kosugi flicks of the 1980's (Revenge of the Ninja, Enter the Ninja and others), or else just awful like the Swedish-made Ninja Mission, one of the handful of films that I have walked out on. Then there are films like Challenge of the Lady Ninja. This film is an unmitigated turdstorm, replete with horrid dubbing, a ridiculous plot, martial skills that veer toward the superhuman, and camera-work that makes one ask if it was lensed by Stevie Wonder. That said, it stars Chia Ling as a Chinese woman who somehow joins a clan of Japanese ninja and masters their skills. Chia Ling can throw down with the best of them (as seen in the unjustly ignored classic 13 Evil Bandits, aka Against the Drunken Cat Paws), looks terrific in a red ninja outfit, and is lots of fun to watch here, but the real selling point here is the fact that Challenge of the Lady Ninja is the martial arts film that Ed Wood might have made if he were still alive. This is in many ways the Plan Nine from Outer Space of kung fu films (and there are a lot of strong contenders for that dubious honor), what with a painful script, terrible acting and my favorite element: despite the fact that the story takes place in World War II, we see 1970's Cadillacs as period automobiles. The plot is utterly beside the point; just sit there in amazement as the film unfolds and realize that it is practically impossible to intentionally make a bad movie that is as entertaining as this one.