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Ninja III: The Domination – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Scream Factory is doing one of their first ever upgrades (Or as some as you may refer to it, “double dip”) with the Collector’s Edition of Ninja III: The Domination. The 1984 Cannon Films cult classic enjoyed a standard release with a commentary back in 2013 that has proven to be one of their most popular titles. With five years time, its good as any to revisit it and beef it up to Collector’s Edition status. This new release features some new key artwork to differentiate it of course, but also a brand new 4K transfer of the film to go along with brand new interviews, including star Lucinda Dickey. They’ve put the work in to make this worth the purchase again. And you’ll want to make sure you pre-order it to have it when it releases on June 12th.

Film 

Aerobic instructor Christie Ryder becomes possessed by the spirit of an evil ninja when she comes to his aid after he was shot down. Dominated by the killer’s vicious and relentless rage, she sets out to brutally attack his enemies. Her boyfriend, confused by Christie’s changing personality and afraid that he might be her next victim, enlists the help of Yamada. In a life-threatening exorcism and ultimate fight to the death, Yamada proves that he is Christie’s only chance for survival.

Cinema, let alone Cannon Films, is no stranger to taking something popular and doing a knock off. Halloween brought us Friday the 13th, Star Wars brought Star Crash, adapting Harry Potter led to someone adapting Percy Jackson. But those are doing a more straightforward sharing of one idea. What happens when you take four things that really don’t go together and blend them up? That’s Ninja III: The Domination. The love child of Cannon Ninja movies, The Exorcist, Poltergeist and yes, Flashdance.

Don’t be afraid to jump in to Ninja III having not seen the first two that weren’t even numbered (Enter the Ninja, Revenge of the Ninja). This one stands tall all by itself. There is a slight, very light connection to what came before, but in all honesty this is Troll and Troll 2 continuation here. And you know what, its best just to dive right in, any added confusion is just a bonus to the enjoyment of this bizarre film.

Lucinda Dickey, also know for the Breakin’ film, is at the helm of this madness and she is a total rock star, game for every damn thing they throw at her. Stereotypical 80s aerobics scenes? No problem. Jumping around and kicking ass as ninja? No sweat. Looking like a possessed ghost? On it. A sex scene where you pour a can of V-8 down your chest as you arch your back and dude licks it off? YES, that happens in this movie! See how wonderful this damn thing is? You’ll be rewinding that part at least 8 times before moving on if you’re a newbie.

Despite all the batshit crazy thing that happen in the film, it also does deliver on the action we’ve come to expect from Cannon when it comes to Ninja movies.  The beatings in this movie range from bad ass to ridiculously over the top. Your opening moments of ninja attacking a golf course will set the stage, the tone and give you everything you’re going to love about this movie right away. There are things that are kinda dumb, but you can’t help but think its also pretty awesome.

Ninja III: The Domination is one of the greatest cult movies, midnight movies, party riffing movies of all time. The Sam Firstenberg continues to find a new audience all the time. It delivers in shocking moments, action and comedy. Plus its a super 80s movie, so you’ll marvel in either laughter or nostalgia with every article of clothing or interior that is visited. This is a movie firing on all cylinders and find myself still in love and unable to get enough of it!

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Scream Factory’s new release of Ninja III: The Domination comes from a 4K scan of original film elements. In all honesty I was happy with how the previous release looked, but man, this is a nice improvement here. The image is more crisp and carries a lot more detail and better saturates its color. Grain is more noticeable, but not distracting at all. Its a clear upgrade from before and once again Scream Factory gives A-level love to a B-level motion picture.

Depth:  Here’s a noticeable uptick from the previous release. The image looks like it breathes more and background dip further back into your TV. Characters move more smoothly and free in the image. No real issues with distortions on rapid movements.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and well saturated throughout the film. You can still make out hair follicles and details in the dark, but sometimes scenes are intentionally consuming. No crushing witnessed during this viewing for the review.

Color Reproduction: Colors look very good and there’s a lot of varied super 80s looks going on in the film. Whether it be the effects or some red or purple work out close being worn, they come on stronger and help to give the image and film its character.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. Facial features come through very clear with improved details. You can make out make up, lip texture, dried blood, scars and more from close ups and most medium shots.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: This new release carries over the previous stereo track, which was a good mix the last time around. The special effects have a nice heightened and clear feel while the score and songs used in the film all get to take some good bouncing center stage action. At times it does sound a little dated, but most of all everything works just right for this kind of film.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp and usually pretty solid during crazy action.

Extras 

Ninja III: The Domination – Collector’s Edition comes with a reversible cover featuring the original poster artwork.

Audio Commentary

  • WIth Director Sam Firstenberg and Stunt Coordinator Steve Lambert
  • Isolated Score Selections and Audio Interviews with Misha Segal and Elliot Ellentuck

Dancing With Death (HD, 18:24) – A terrific candid interview with actress Lucinda Dickey. She primarily talks the experience of this film but also touches upon her start working on Grease 2 and the Breakin’ films. Dickey actually shot this before Breakin’ but that film was released first. Toward the end she unveils she had a 5 film deal with Cannon that they parted ways on as she was to also star in both Allan Quatermain films (replaced by Sharon Stone) and a third Breakin’.

Secord’s Struggle (HD, 10:25) – An interview with actor Jordan Bennett. We have a controversy on this very disc! Bennett claims he came up with the V-8 scene, whereas on the commentary Steve Lambert says it was his idea. Jordan goes on to talk about how fun the film was and it how it still stands as one of his favorite experiences in his career.

Birth of the Ninja (HD, 11:47) – An interview with producer and stuntman Alan Amiel. This is a more straight-faced, serious interviews. He points out places where he was a stand in and talks about pushing limits on a low budget. I don’t think he grasps exactly “why” this movie is popular.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:37) 

Trailers From Hell With Screenwriter Josh Olson (HD, 1:57) – As the trailer plays he pretty much spouts of some trivia bits about the movie.

Still Photo Gallery (HD, 3:07) 

Behind-The-Scenes Gallery (HD, 4:10)

Summary 

Ninja III: The Domination is golden achievement in cult cinema and argues to be hold the throne for the greatest Cannon movie of all time. Scream Factory surely agrees as they deliver a really nice Collector’s Edition. The interviews are fun and the movie’s new 4K transfer gives it even more detail and dimensions. This is no cheap cash grab, there’s effort and truly the release the film has deserved.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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