Enter the Ninja
|Enter the Ninja|
Film poster designed by Design Projects, Inc.
|Directed by||Menahem Golan|
|Produced by||Yoram Globus
|Written by||Dick Desmond|
|Story by||Mike Stone|
|Music by||W. Michael Lewis
|Edited by||Michael J. Duthie
|Distributed by||Cannon Films
|October 23, 1981|
Enter the Ninja is a 1981 ninja action film directed by Menahem Golan and starring Franco Nero, Susan George, Christopher George, and Sho Kosugi. It is often credited with starting the "Ninja Movie" craze of the 1980s. It was the first in an unofficial trilogy, followed by Revenge of the Ninja and Ninja III: The Domination, though the three films share nothing in common beyond the theme of ninjas and featuring actor Sho Kosugi in a leading role.
Cole (Franco Nero), a veteran of the Angolan Bush War, completes his ninjutsu training in Japan. Cole goes to visit his war buddy Frank Landers (Alex Courtney) and his newlywed wife Mary Ann Landers (Susan George), who are the owners of a large piece of farming land in the Philippines. Cole soon finds that the Landers are being repeatedly harassed by a wealthy CEO named Charles Venarius (Christopher George) in order to get them to sell their property because, unbeknownst to them, a large oil deposit is located beneath their land. After beginning to thwart Venarius' hired henchmen's attempts to bully and coerce the Landers into the selling of their property to Venarius, Cole eventually finds himself facing an old rival from the days of his training – Hasegawa (Sho Kosugi), who was hired by Venarius as an assassin to eliminate Cole. In the midst of these events, an affair occurs between Cole and Mary one evening.
- Franco Nero as Cole
- Susan George as Mary-Ann Landers
- Sho Kosugi as Hasegawa
- Christopher George as Charles Venarius
- Alex Courtney as Frank Landers
- Will Hare as Dollars
- Zachi Noy as Siegfried 'The Hook' Schultz
- Constantine Gregory as Mr. Parker (as Constantin de Goguel)
- Dale Ishimoto as Komori
- Joonee Gamboa as Mr. Mesuda
- Leo Martinez as Pee Wee
- Ken Metcalfe as Elliot
- Subas Herrero as Alberto
- Alan Amiel as Maroon Ninja
- Doug Ivan as Maroon Ninja
Production was started in the Philippines with Emmett Alston directing, but when Charles Bronson refused to allow Menahem Golan to direct Death Wish II, Golan, a co-principal of Cannon Group which was producing both movies, took over directing duties of Ninja, replacing Alston. According to interviews in Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films, Chuck Norris turned down the lead because he didn't want to appear facially covered in the film.
The film was initially conceptualized by martial artist and stuntman Mike Stone. Stone wrote the initial screenplay, which shared similarities to the popular novel The Ninja by Eric Van Lustbader, which at the time was being developed into a film by John Carpenter. The final screenplay was written by Stone, Dick Desmond, and an uncredited Menahem Golan. Originally, the role of Cole was intended to be played by Stone himself, but he was let go due to a lack of acting experience. Franco Nero, who had no prior knowledge of martial arts but was discovered by the producers attending a film festival in Manila, was cast instead, while Stone doubled for the more elaborate fight scenes. The film was shot primarily in the Philippines, with some additional footage shot in Japan. This was Sho Kosugi's first major English-language film role.
The film received mixed to positive reviews from critics at the time of its release.
Considering that all the action stunts in the film were practical and done with specially-choreographed fight sequences, the film was shot with potential dangers. Some critics would point out its occasional campy tone while some praising the production values of the relatively low-budget film.
During recent times, it is criticized for having "cheesy acting" and receives negative reviews at the moment. Despite receiving countless of negative reviews these days, a few critics have managed to appreciate the film and the film has garnered a "cult following". This was the original ninja movie that started the "80's craze". The film was followed by two sequels, the second receiving the best reviews in the series and the last receiving the worst reviews.
Revenge of the Ninja, released in 1983, followed afterwards, with none of the cast returning except Sho Kosugi. Sho Kosugi who would also return in the third Ninja film, Ninja III: The Domination (1984), released a year after.
Home video releases
The movie had been released on VHS and Beta during the 1980s, but an official US DVD release had long eluded the masses until MGM issued as part of its Limited Edition Collection (a series of manufactured-on-demand DVD-Rs) in October 2011. The film had also been distributed on DVD in the UK by Lighthouse (2001) and Optimum Entertainment (2011). In 2015, the film was released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber.
- "Enter the Ninja FINALLY coming to DVD via MGM’s Limited Edition Collection". InsomniacEntertainment.com. October 5, 2011. Retrieved October 5, 2011.
- Enter the Ninja at the Internet Movie Database
- Enter the Ninja at AllMovie
- Enter the Ninja at the TCM Movie Database
- Enter The Ninja at Facemelting Films