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FANGO Flashback: “NINJA III: THE DOMINATION”

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As anyone familiar with the frequently over-the-top production house can tell you, The Cannon Group didn’t make the kind of films one forgets easily. In fact, with titles like 10 TO MIDNIGHT, SCHIZOID, THE COMPANY OF WOLVES and a trio of Tobe Hooper films (LIFEFORCE, INVADERS FROM MARS and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2) under their belt, Cannon gave the horror genre some of the sleaziest, bloodiest, and most imaginative fare throughout the ‘80s. Yet nothing quite married the best, worst and craziest elements of The Cannon Group than NINJA III: THE DOMINATION, a horror-action odyssey that takes the possession subgenre into jaw-dropping insanity.

If you don’t believe this writer, just try to follow the plotline yourself: after a seemingly unstoppable ninja is gravely wounded in battle, he transfers his evil spirit into the body of a young aerobics teacher. Soon enough, the spirit takes control of the woman to complete his mission and enact his revenge, including taking aim at the teacher’s burgeoning love interest: a cop whose actions contributed to the ninja’s demise. However, exorcising this demon won’t be that easy, and soon, the possessed woman squares off against her only hope: a rival ninja with the power to send the ninja’s spirit to its final resting place.

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NINJA III: THE DOMINATION has earned its reputation among aficionados of horror and action alike, as even the most jaded film fan will marvel at the ridiculous, absurd turns the film takes. Of course, NINJA III isn’t aiming to take home any Oscars, so those expecting drama, logic or intentional comedy will be left wanting by the time the credits roll. However, those looking to be entertained by the unlikely mixture of bizarre stunt-heavy ninja action and practical FX-laden horror insanity will be more than satiated by what NINJA III: THE DOMINATION has to offer.

But in standard Cannon form, NINJA III is completely unapologetic in its nature, going for reckless spectacle and energetic insanity that dares the audience to either stick with the action or get lost trying to understand why. Despite the myriad influences NINJA III “borrows” from in both the possession and ninja subgenres, NINJA III is banking on the audience to be too busy watching helicopter stunts and high-kicks to try to piece together the motivations behind its narrative. Yet in only the way Cannon can do it, this volatile approach that would sink most films somehow makes NINJA III more entertaining and fun without necessarily steering that enjoyment in snarky, ironic territory.

About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel "THE I IN EVIL", and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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