CANNON MONTH: Enter the Ninja (1981)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Back during Junesploitation, we watched this on June 16, 2021. Our plans for a Cannon month started right then and there. This movie is everything great about the madness that is Cannon Films. 

Cannon Films need to be on our site more often, but that’s because I want to make sure that I have the time and energy to properly focus on this astounding company. But hey — let’s get things started by talking about Enter the Ninja, a movie written by the man who stole Priscilla from Elvis, Mike Stone, and nearly starred in it before his acting ability supposedly wasn’t good enough for a ninja movie Luckily, Franco Nero was in the Philippines and Stone was nice enough to remain on set as the fight double for Nero and the fight/stunt coordinator.

That’s right — Django as a ninja. Make that a ninja that cucks his best friend and arrdvarking his wife Susan George and then fighting Sho Kosugi.

If you were wondering why I loved Cannon Films so much, just read that last sentence again.

Cole (Nero) is a soldier who has become a ninja — much like Snake-Eyes in the Marvel comics — before he visits his war buddy Frank Landers and his new wife Mary Ann (Ms. George) who own a giant farm in the Philippines that is threatened by Charles Venarius (Christopher George), whose Venarius Industries wants the oil that’s on their land.

After said cuckolding — Frank had already drunkenly confessed to our hero that he couldn’t life his own katana, so to speak — Venarius’ henchmen kill Frank and kidnap Mary Ann. That means that Cole has to battle his way through all of the many soldiers in his way before battling his old sword brother Hasegawa (Sho Kosugi).

Directed by Menahem Golan, who also gave us The Apple, this is actually the exact kind of movie that I want it to be. Golan said, “It started when Chinese karate films became popular. I looked for something new in Asian martial arts and found information about the ninja culture in an encyclopedia. The ninja were middle-class people in Japan — lawyers, government clerks, etc. It was a secret organization that helped the feudal government. It actually preceded the Chinese karate battles. They used very special methods, developing their sixth sense. That fascinated me and I said I could write story ideas out of it, so we made Enter the Ninja and American Warrior later on. Many imitations followed.”

Actually, Emmett Alston was supposed to be the film’s original director. Supposedly Charles Bronson refused to allow Golan to direct Death Wish II. Alston directed Force of the Ninja and Nine Deaths of the Ninja, which is somehow even better than this.

Also, I know that we got a whole bunch of Kosugi ninja movies, which I love, but man, why did we not get another Franco Nero in karate PJs movie?

You can listen to The Cannon Canon episode where they discuss this movie here.

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