1982 – Hey, you… Kung-Fu Genre. Yeah you, the dominant force in martial arts exploitation in the 70’s. Y’know that flesh wound you got last year from that Golan-Globus ninja flick? Yeah, the one next the scar you got in that octagonal training compound before that? Well, guess what… Those weren’t just scratches. You’ve had blowfish poison running through your veins all this time, and now you are about to DIE!
If there’s a single movie that marks the passing of the torch from the Kung-Fu 70’s to the Ninja 80’s, it is Five Element Ninjas (aka Chinese Super Ninjas). Made by the Shaw Brothers as an answer to the upstart ninja boom. It centered on ‘Venoms’-like wu-shu warriors defending their martial traditions against the vile invader that was ninjutsu, ironically at the very time the studio was battling for grindhouse screens to the new black-hooded wave.
So was this blood-soaked meeting of two genres an attempt for Shaw to adapt to a new decade and cash-in, or was it metaphoric wishful thinking from an over-the-hill former champ? We’ll explore those notions over the next week, as we celebrate the anniversary of its original release with FIVE DAYS OF FIVE ELEMENT NINJA!
Over the next four days we’ll look at the various elemental shinobi gimmicks and other bat-shit crazy mayhem that makes FEN one of the best movies of EITHER the ninja or kung-fu genres.
And here’s the 2007 Asian-market DVD release trailer from Celestial, which plays up the Venoms angle hard and takes itself way too seriously:
Tomorrow, Five Days of FEN continues with the first elements…