Buddha predicted that his teachings would be misinterpreted over the generations and devolve into nonsense. Perhaps he meant nonsense like the scene in Ninja: The Final Duel when a Shaolin Monk gets in a fight with Hare Krishna Monk. The Shaolin Monk beats the shit out of the Hare Krishna Monk and then bows as he solemnly evokes the name of Amitābha Buddha. Amitābha Buddha, you know, the guy who preached the doctrine of ahimsa, non-harming. The Hare Krishna puts up a good fight using his Tamborine as a weapon. Maybe next time you see a Krishna acolyte in the street you’ll be more respectful and take his pamphlet.
In fairness if you have sat yourself down to watch Ninja: The Final Duel for a lesson in Buddhist history you have bigger problems. It’s more likely you were looking to be entertained by some flying kicks and throwing stars. In that case you still may have come to the wrong place. This is not a well made film and the fight choreography and in particular the editing of the fight choreography is just bad. However, since the film does feature ninja’s that surf on giant spiders across both water and sky, the poor quality of this film does not detract from its entertainment value.
The film has its ups and downs. I am assuming the original print was better, but I watched a version that had been lifted from a VHS tape. The night scenes, of which there are several, are just a black screen with kung-fu noises and for some unknown reason the sound of submarine sonar? It was too dark to see anything, maybe the ninjas were fighting an evil submarine.
Invisible submarines and flying spiders aside, the true entertainment gold is “The Black Monk.” Actually its not so much the black monk as the person who dubbed the voice of the Black Monk. I’m guessing the voice actor was Chinese and had not been exposed to too many black folks. His “accent” sounds like a cross between a southern farmer and a western movie gunslinger. Here is a sample bit of dialogue,
Black Monk: “You must be jivin’, don blame me. I wuz jus’ passin’ by an’ I foun’ her deeaad”
Ninja Spy: “You expect me to believe that? That its just a coincidence?”
Black Monk: “Bruthuh Ia’m uh Holly man. I don’t kill.”
Ninja Spy: “A black monk traveling in China? Shaolin ghetto freak!”
Black Monk: huh?
Ninja Spy: “Let’s see what you’re made of you holy joke.”
Black Monk: “take it easy man.”
Ninja Spy: “Ghetto in the sky, that’s where you’re headed!”
Despite there being the use of the word “Jiving” the film was made in 1986, by Roagert Tai. Its a Taiwanese film. You may know Mr.Tai from his other films such as Shaolin vs. Ninja, Ninja vs. Shaolin Guard, and Mafia vs. Ninja.
Ninjas: The Final Duel is less a narrative film and more a loose association of scenes. There’s a half naked woman that appears out of nowhere, battles some ninjas, gets her head cut off and then is never referred to again. The Black Monk’s participates in two scenes and then he is done away with. The Hare Krishna duo have two scenes and then just disappear from the movie all together. I guess life was brutish and brief back in the day. The film, however is not brutish and brief its ridiculous and an hour and a half.