Enter the Ninja

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Enter the Ninja
Theatrical release poster designed by Design Projects, Inc.
Directed byMenahem Golan
Produced byYoram Globus
Menahem Golan
Screenplay byDick Desmond
Story byDick Desmond
Mike Stone
StarringFranco Nero
Susan George
Sho Kosugi
Alex Courtney
Will Hare
Zachi Noy
Constantin de Goguel
Dale Ishimoto
Christopher George
Music byW. Michael Lewis
Laurin Rinder
CinematographyDavid Gurfinkel
Edited byMichael J. Duthie
Mark Goldblatt
The Cannon Group, Inc.
First City Films
Distributed byCannon Film Distributors
Release date
October 23, 1981
Running time
101 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$1.5 million

Enter the Ninja is a 1981 American ninja Western 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 Cannon Films' "Ninja Trilogy" anthology series, followed by Revenge of the Ninja and Ninja III: The Domination.


Cole, a veteran of the Angolan Bush War, completes his ninjutsu training in Japan. Cole goes to visit his war buddy Frank Landers and his newlywed wife Mary Ann Landers, 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 Charles Venarius, the wealthy CEO of Venarius Industries, in order to get them to sell their property because, unbeknownst to them, a large oil deposit is located beneath their land. Cole thwarts the local henchmen Venarius has hired to bully and coerce the Landers.

Cole and Frank infiltrate Venarius' base, and defeat a number of his henchmen. In the aftermath, Frank gets drunk and confesses to Cole that he is impotent. Mary Ann comes to Cole that night and they have an affair. Venarius, learning that Cole is a ninja, hires a ninja of his own to eliminate Frank and Cole - Hasegawa, who is a rival of Cole from their old training days.

Hasegawa strikes the Landers' compound at night, killing Frank in front of Mary Anne, then abducting her to Venarius' martial arts arena. Cole enters, and picks off the henchmen one by one before ultimately killing Venarius. Hawegawa releases Mary Ann, and the two ninja engage in a final battle. Cole defeats Hasegawa, who begs to be allowed to die with honour, and Cole beheads him.



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 Films which was producing both movies, took over directing duties of Ninja, replacing Alston.

The film was initially conceptualized by martial artist and stuntman Mike Stone. He wrote the initial screenplay under the title Dance of Death[1], that 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 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.


The film was followed by Revenge of the Ninja in 1983 with Kosugi as the only returning cast member. Kosugi would also return in the third Ninja film, Ninja III: The Domination, in 1984.

Home media[edit]

The film has 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.[2] 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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ https://www.allaboutmartialarts.com/mike-stone/
  2. ^ "Enter the Ninja FINALLY coming to DVD via MGM's Limited Edition Collection". InsomniacEntertainment.com. October 5, 2011. Archived from the original on October 7, 2011. Retrieved October 5, 2011.

External links[edit]