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Ninja III: The Domination

Posted on Feb 26, 2009 by | 23 comments

Is there anything cooler then a ninja? Fun fact, while growing up I used to wish for the day a ninja would be in the Transformers cartoon, and while the Transformers/GI Joe crossover comic satiated this desire somewhat, it really wasn’t what I was after. Just like when Spider-Man guest starred, these shameless cross overs diluted both of these great franchises rather then amplifying them. And while Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes were great and all, they were no substitute for Michael Dudikoff.

The American Ninja franchise has a very special place in my heart. A place that you may not, and can not, sully no matter how hard you might try. Anna hasn’t even seen this place because she is crafty and I have been unable to trick her into watching any of the films. But what are American Ninja films? I’m so glad you asked.

The American Ninja films follow a simple, hard working soldier (Dudikoff) who just so happens to be the only American ninja, like, ever. You would think this would go to his head, but no. He keeps his head down and follows orders until invariably an evil villain set on world domination kidnaps his lady friend and unleashes an army of ninjas to kill our intrepid hero. I’m fairly certain American Ninja 2 differs only in that his best friend is kidnapped, as well as a host of Marines, instead of his girlfriend. Also the evil ninjas are color coded.

Now I was far too young to ever see these movies in the theater (I’m not even sure if they even were released in theaters) but in 1989 something magical happened, the theatrical release of American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt. The stunning twist in this film? Dudikoff is the one captured and a second American ninja (David Bradley) must rescue him. Or was that the plot of the fourth film? No matter. Now of course I was still to young to watch American Ninja 3 in the theater, and since my father had a very anti-ninja (yet pro-Aliens) agenda, I was left to find another means of watching the film.

Thankfully I had an ace up my sleeve, for you see my elder sister worked at the very movie theater that would be showing American Ninja 3, and she didn’t care what I watched. Sure she thought it looked stupid (an opinion I chalk up to her being a girl) but she wasn’t going to waste any effort in stopping me from watching the film. So there I was, at the first showing on opening day, totally excited to watch the latest, greatest American Ninja film. But then something totally unexpected happened.

What Christie (Lucinda Dickey, star of Breakin’ and Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo) doesn’t know is that we have secretly replaced her subconscious with an evil ninja (David Chung). Oh sure, during the day she will go about her business of teaching aerobics and dating swarthy policemen none the wiser to what lurks inside her. But at night she turns into a soulless killing machine. Can anyone stop her? And can the one eyed ninja Yamada (Shô Kosugi) save her from herself?

Sure enough the wrong print had been sent to the theater, a print for a film that had been released a full five years earlier. Oh I was angry at first. How could a projectionist not have known the difference between Ninja III and American Ninja 3? It should be perfectly obvious, right? RIGHT?!

But the more of the film that I watched, the more I realized that if I was going to have to unknowingly watch a film that wasn’t American Ninja III, at least I was lucky enough to have this truly bizarre ninja film as its stand in. Besides, how often do you get the chance to watch a movie that channels The Exorcist, Ghostbusters and Footloose all in one beautifully wrapped ninja package. As an extra added bonus Ninja III: The Domination was directed by Sam Firstenberg. Who also directed the first two American Ninja films, and as an extra added bonus of pop culture knowledge, and directed Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo as well. Your mind is blown, isn’t it?

Ninja III: The Domination is a movie that can’t be reviewed, it can only be experienced. Preferably in a large group and with copious amounts of alcohol. From the opening moments of a ninja exciting his cave like cave at dawn to hunt and kill a man trying to put in a quick 9-holes before work you know you are in for something special. Sure it is never explained just why the ninja felt the need to kill the man, his wife and 30,000 guards, nor is it explained how the ninja has super strength, you simply have to just go along with it.

You see once the Black Ninja (Chung) is gunned down by a horde of cops, he vanishes into the ground, only to escape where he runs into Christie. Christie, shocked at finding a ninja, then dances with him for a few moments, more then long enough for the dying ninja to impart his soul into her. And this is when the film gets really weird.

Now imparted with the strength and evilness of a super strong evil ninja, Christie begins to date hirsute men that she hates, beats up a roving rape gang and even begins to systematically kill the individual cops who were responsible for the ninjas death. Whether it be in a hot tub or at a funeral, she is a one woman killing machine.

But what really sets the film apart from your standard ninja fare is the utterly insane possession angle. Curious at Christie’s radically shifting personality, her impossibly hairy boyfriend Billy (Jordan Bennett) takes her to Lo Pan (James Hong) to try and discover just what is wrong with her. Luckily, Christie is not a green eyed Chinese girl, but a Solid Gold dancer so he has no interest in her. But he does discover that a ninja is lurking inside of her, and thus quickly dismisses the unlikely couple from his abode before he angers the spirit ninja.

But wait there is more. Christie, now struggling to maintain her grip on her soul, must now have a spiritual battle with the ninja (who’s ethereal presence is represented by his floating sword). And how does she defend herself from his advances? She, wait for it, dances. That’s right, as her apartment turns against her, as smoke billows out of her closet and as a katana blade advances upon her Christie decides to shake her money maker for all it is worth, knowing full well that a ninja could not resist her streetwise moves. That is until he resists her streetwise moves and fully takes over her body.

Then, when I thought Ninja III: The Domination couldn’t amaze me any more, it pulls out the big guns. Christie wipes out a platoon of cops, goes head to head with her nemesis Yamada, and when he (Yamada) discovers the ninja he has been chasing has inhabited the body of a woman he lets her go. He then concocts an ingenious plan to meet Christie at an abandoned temple in the hills. There Yamada forces the black ninja’s soul out of Christie’s body and back into his own. But what Yamada doesn’t know is that the black ninja has the power to turn the monks who live in the abandoned temple into, I can’t believe I am saying this, ZOMBIE NINJAS!

I freaking love this movie.


Matt Gamble
I review movies. I run a movie theatre. I annoy people. I let my dogs lick my face whenever they want. Sometimes I'm even a halfway decent human.
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  1. This was a fantastic piece.

    I’m certain this took you a long time to write between the countless orgasms.

    • It didn’t help that I watched the film three times over the weekend either. Every time I tried to sit down and write it pulled me right back into its delicious web.

      Also, I took a gaggle of screen shots from this movie. I just may post the entire gallery for all the world to enjoy.

      • This is the percfet post for me to find at this time

  2. Although I am, along with your father, a card carrying member of the anti-ninja/pro-alien brigade, I enjoyed this review immensely.

    • I find myself unable to trust anyone who isn’t pro-ninja. That’s like saying you’re anti-The Godfather.

  3. Damn you and your lack of this film, Region 1 DVD.

    • Thankfully there are “other” ways to watch this. But if Gymkata can get a release, why not Ninja III?

  4. Why are there no current, big budget Ninja movies? I’m surprised one hasn’t been released in the past few years; or am I missing something? Someone like Chris Evans, Ryan Gosling or Keanu Reeves is the new American Ninja.

    • I’m betting if Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes get enough of a reaction in the GI Joe movie that we’ll start seeing ninja movies again. And despite his diminutive size, Ray Park really does seem like he would make a perfect American Ninja.

  5. This movie has a special place in my heart not because it’s an awesome movie about ninjas that can kill an entire police force and crush a golf ball with his bare hands. No, it’s where some of the scenes take place. I’m born and raised in Phoenix, so seeing the opening scenes I couldn’t believe what was shown on screen! Papago Park! Sure not many people will recognize the location, but for me, it adds another layer of cheese and enjoyment to the film. I’m glad that Showtime decided to run that movie a few times, have it recorded on VHS!

  6. Oh boy, I ordered it. Hope it stands up to my expectations.

  7. Nazi, dont worry. I have received mine and it was fab. How did you feel when you received yours?

    Jen x

  8. I saw this movie when I was 5-6 years old at a friend’s house. I spent the last 20 years explaining to other friends that this is in fact, a real movie and not something I made up. The bad news was, I couldn’t remember the title to save my life. THANK YOU for saving my sanity, as I am now capable of proving that this really did exist and is not a figment of my imagination.

  9. Thank you for leaving the greatest comment ever!

  10. i loved it as a kid and still do yes its a little cheesy but still agreat dance and martial arts combination

  11. I Know i am alittle late on posting this. As for this review is over a year old at this point. I was the biggest ninja fan as a kid. I grew up in the 80’s so with the invention of the VCR found a world of ninja movies in the early 80’s. Enter the ninja was the first american ninja type movie.. it is still freaking awesome! So flash forward to today. I am sitting at work and thinking about Ninja III the domination for some strange reason. There was something I guess that still bugging me to this day. WHY WAS IT CALLED NINJA III? From what I can tell there was never a Ninja 1 or 2? I just can’t figure it out. Was it because there were 3 um ish ninjas in the movie? Because the chick really wasn’t a ninja.. she was just possessed by a ninja.. Ok I am glad I have gotten that off my chest.

  12. There are actually two other Ninja films in this series, Enter the Ninja and Revenge of the Ninja, though none of the 3 have related storylines.

  13. One of the greatest ninja movies ever! Me and my older brother had ninja fever back in these days, pillow cases and towels tied around our heads, anything that resembled a sword, mom even found us some, what seemed to be, authentic ninja stars! Til this day we’re still curious as to where they disappeared to that first time we threw them!.. Oh well, still a classic!

  14. I finally bit the bullet and tracked down a VHS copy of this film from Amazon last year (along with another oldie, Treasure of the Four Crowns). Then, last week, I saw they were selling a DVD version, which I bought. Unfortunately, it looks to be from a VHS version from overseas. The sound is crap as is the picture quality (plus it features some foreign subtitles), but the price was right on sale and it’ll hold me over until I get impatient for an official release. Would be nice.


  16. I saw it years ago , it was good then. I’m hunting regular DVD if anyone has a u.s. region copy Gmail me [email protected]. thanks

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