Editor’s Note: This review ran on December 19, 2020. We’ve brought it back for our “Philippines War Week” tribute of films.
Look, there’s no such person as Joe Livingstone, the director of this movie. Or William Palmer, its writer. They’re both Godfrey Ho, the Hong Kong Ed Wood who made at least eighty movies from 1980 to 1990 and may have used over forty screen names, making him the Asian Aristide Massaccesi.
Ho is the master of a cut and paste style of filmmaking that challenges the notions of art and copyright clearances — or he’s a hack out to make a quick buck. He’s also famous for dropping footage of ninjas into movies even if the plot doesn’t call for it. I take issue with this: movies always call for more ninjas.
His love of the word ninjas also led to making movies that have titles like The Ninja Force, Ninja The Protector, Full Metal Ninja, The Ninja Squad, Thunder Ninja Kids: The Hunt for the Devil Boxer, Ninja Terminator, Zombie vs. Ninja, Thunder Ninja Kids in the Golden Adventure, Ninja Force of Assassins, Ninja Knight Brothers of Blood, Ninja of the Magnificence, Ninja Powerforce, Ninja Strike Force, The Ninja Showdown, Power of Ninjitsu, Ninja’s Extreme Weapons, Ninja’s Demon Massacre, Cobra vs. Ninja, Death Code: Ninja, Golden Ninja Invasion, Rage of Ninja, Ninja: The Battalion, Empire of the Spiritual Ninja, Ninja Operation 7: Royal Warriors, Ninja Commandments, Ninja In Action, Ninja: American Warrior, Ninja Operation: Licensed to Terminate, Ninja Operation 6: Champion on Fire, Ninja Phantom Heroes, Bionic Ninja, Tough Ninja the Shadow Warrior, Twinkle Ninja Fantasy (that’s one I gotta track down), The Blazing Ninja and probably ten movie ninja movies. Seriously, those guys are like cockroaches.
He would film footage for one movie, then re-use those shots over and over, which kind of makes him the Asian Roger Corman, but then he’d also find obscure Thai, Filipino and other Asian films, then graft them onto his movies — making him the Asian Bruno Mattei? — and then have several movies made with the budget of one, except no one can even tell where his footage begins and where the other films end.
Ho didn’t stop with stealing footage. He has no idea that music is a copyrightable thing either, so his movies are filled with all manner of sonic thievery, including songs from Miami Vice, Star Trek, Star Wars, anime and even music from Wendy Carlos, Chris & Cosey, Tangerine Dream, Clan of Xymox, Vangelis and Pink Floyd.
Other than some rich musicians and the gullible film public, who gets hurt, right? Well, Richard Harrison, for one. He’d worked with Ho in the past at Shaw Brothers and made a deal to be in a few of his films. A few movies ended up being, well, a veritable onslaught of low-level ninjas films with his name above the title, which did damage to his career. Harrison was the unwilling feature actor in almost a dozen different movies, which sent him back to the United States. Yes, a guy who worked for everyone from Alfonso Brescia, Antonio Margheriti and Alberto De Martino to appearing in Bruce Lee ripoffs and Eurospy films had finally had enough.
And then, out of nowhere, Ho was making mainstream movies. Well, as mainstream as a Cynthia Rothrock film would be. After directing her in Honor and Glory and Undefeatable, he also made Laboratory of the Devil, a remake/remix/ripoff/ unauthorized sequel of The Man Behind the Sun. And then, he went back to his old tricks and used all the same footage to make a sequel to that movie, Maruta 3 … Destroy all Evidence. And then…
Somehow, this movie is 81 minutes and feels like nine hours. It’s all about Alex, who we also find out is the Shadow Warrior*, and now, he has to fight a smuggling ring who are all vampires, which as we all know, hop in China. No one at all is surprised that vampires exist. It is just matter of fact. There’s also a gambler looking to get even with the mob boss who sent him to jail, in case you get bored.
This is also somehow a sequel to Robo Vampire. Trust me, you have no reason to watch that. Or this. I mean, this movie has a silver lame suited superhero moonwalking against vampires, so really you can do whatever you want. Also, this movie makes so little sense that Robo Vampire could very well be the sequel, for all we know.
The poster is pretty awesome, though. And to be perfectly honest, I love these movies.
If you decide you can handle a director who makes Jess Franco look like Fellini, this is on Tubi.