Not Necessarily Ninja – Chapter 1

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Shinobi-esque jobbers in LAST HURRAH FOR CHIVALRY

Ninja, and ninja-like, costuming affords a tremendous advantage to action directors – you can hide the stuntmen very easily. How many times per picture can an anonymous hooded fight double get killed? A LOT!

A bonus to studio marketers comes as a bi-product – you can put something that looks like a ninja on your video packaging later. To those ends there are a lot of Asian action films that use ninjery costumes for martial commando units and evil minions.

John Woo‘s 1979 sword opera The Last Hurrah for Chivalry is sort of like Kubrik’s Spartacus; the burgeoning brilliance was there, but he had to play in someone else’s sandbox. In this case, the traditional trappings of the kung-fu establishment set by the Shaw Bros. are apparent throughout (if not for the Golden Harvest logo at the beginning, you could call this flick The Last Hurrah For SHAW-valry). But in reality this is ahead-of-its-time Wu Xia, with a director formulating the notions that would lead him to define 90s HK action cinema and 2000s epic period dramas.

Amongst the approximately 3 million sword fights in this film are a few scenes wherein this army of light-grey clad martial specialists throw themselves willy-nilly on the sword blades of the long-haired heroes.

Proof positive – do not bring two small knives to a sword fight. Although later some more of these expendables show up with swords and they fare no better…