Ninja III: The Domination (1985)


Tagline: He’s the ultimate killer, she’s the perfect weapon.

Director: Sam Firstenberg

Writer: James R. Silke

Starring: Lucinda Dickey, Jordan Bennet, Sho Kosugi, David Chung, Dale Ishimoto, James Hong, Bob Craig, Pamela Ness, Roy Padilla, Moe Mosley, John LaMotta, Ron Foster, Steven Lambert, Earl W. Smith, Carver Barnes, Karen Petty, Randy Mulkey, James Maher, Judy Starr

18 | 92 min | Action/Horror

Budget: unknown


God bless you Cannon Group; I mean, truly.

I am convinced that if a handful of the world’s greatest directors were locked in a room together, years later they would still have failed to produce something as delightfully absurd as Ninja III: The Domination, Sam Firstenberg’s coup de grâce of crap movies. Put succinctly, the film is a heady blend of Flashdance, The Exorcist, and the director’s subsequent Cannon addition The American Ninja, but even with such lofty aspirations, the movie is so much more than the sum of its parts.

Not only are its characters ill-defined, but there is no real distinction between good and evil. The Black Ninja is evil, that much is clear by his heavily painted eyes, but the cops are all sleazeballs who treat women like hookers, and our so-called protagonist commits more murders than Freddy and Jason combined. If the film was a map of crime locations and you were trying to discern any kind of logical pattern, there would be pin holes everywhere and all of your tacks would be back in the tray. I mean, I have seen some truly misdirected productions in my time, but this is some jaw-dropping stuff. It really is.


Cover for me, will ya! I’m just nipping out to bang these two broads.

The movie starts as it means to go on – with the infamous golf course massacre. A mysterious man enters a mysterious cave and descends a staircase to a sacred tomb. Inside this sacred tomb are mystical age-old weapons bathed in a mysterious golden light. Next to this cave is an exclusive, members only golf course. Makes perfect planning sense, right?

Presumably miffed by the affluent crowd and their selfish privatisation of the Earth, the man emerges in full ninja attire and goes on a senseless killing spree, slaughtering the club’s members for no apparent reason and dying in the arms of a local steeplejack named Christie (Dickey) after the cops leave the crime scene without consideration for the killer, or the many bodies left in his wake. Unperturbed by the stumbling maniac with the samurai sword, Christie tries to help our bloodied stranger and even accepts his murder weapon as a gift.


Gee, mister. Are you okay?

Christie is then questioned back at the station but quickly released, even though she is the only witness to the biggest and most brutal mass murder in American history. Understanding that she is most likely shaken by her experience, hairy-chested officer Billy Secord (Bennett) turns up the sleaze factor and comes on hard, threatening to arrest Christie if she doesn’t sleep with him, a tactless manoeuvre which leads her to fall head-over-heels in love with him.

What Billy doesn’t know is that Christie is leading a double life of murderous vengeance. Soon enough she is experiencing headaches and memory loss as the dead cops pile up, and when she returns home with a cache of deadly weapons and unexplained injuries, he is unable to put two and two together, sending Christie to a psychiatrist who finds nothing out of the ordinary except for her ‘exceptional extra-sensory perception and preoccupation with Japanese culture.’


Blow me, or get out!

Although he has witnessed nothing even remotely supernatural, Billy then suggests that Christie see a Japanese spiritualist recommended to him by a cop buddy in the infamous Asiatic Division – Please! – and his main squeeze reluctantly agrees, leading to a priceless exorcism which promptly reveals all: Christie is possessed by the Black Ninja and nothing can be done – unless of course they can locate another ninja who is man enough to take him down, perhaps someone in an eye patch who has been wandering the streets undetected following the biggest ninja-related multiple homicide the world has ever known.

That man is famous Ninpo practitioner and B-movie legend Sho Kosugi, whose character Yamada seeks vengeance on the Black Ninja for the death of his sensei, utilising an array of impressive martial arts manoeuvres, as well as a few that are a little more on the comical side, stealing bodies, escaping police, and crashing through a million-and-one plywood sets as he attempts to the free the girl of his nemesis.

Ninja III 4

Yamada displays unprecedented powers of persuasion.

Like all cinematic absurdities, Ninja III: The Domination leaves us with many unanswered questions: How does a woman leave a police station with a murder weapon like a samurai sword? Where in the world would you find a town in which a brothel is situated directly next door to that station, and how are its officers able to slip out whenever they want in order to partake in illegal soliciting? If a woman kills an entire police force while possessed by the spirit of an evil ninja, can she still be prosecuted in a court of law?

As demons fly around the place and ninjas disappear under the earth only to spiral back into life like an undead tornado, you quickly begin to realise these are the kind of questions that will never be answered, but boy will you have fun contemplating them!


Cut! Okay, Take 73. Do you know something? Just forget it. That’s a wrap, everyone!

Best Kill

Billy’s cigar-chomping colleague is tracked back to his apartment where he is launched through a ground floor window, falling an entire foot to his death.

Most Absurd Moment

Has to be the entire Golf Course Massacre, which in terms of choreography is playground Cops and Robbers at best. What are the Black Ninja’s motives for preying on Arizona’s local suburbanites? How has his tomb of weapons gone undiscovered for so long in a populated area? How does a person blow a dart through the barrel of a gun causing it to explode?

One can only imagine!

Most Absurd Dialogue

After taking Christie to a spiritualist, Miyashima produces a giant dog collar and chain, suggesting that they use it to restrain the possessed. Cue Billy, with the kind of tone one might use to persuade an infant to sample their broccoli.

Billy: C’mon! Give them a chance.

So small minded!

Revival Rating

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Successfully blending action, romantic comedy and supernatural horror, as an exercise in the wonderfully absurd, Ninja III: The Domination is in a category all by itself. The only problem now is, where do I go from here? Oh Billy, do tell me!


Cedric Smarts
: Editor-in-Chief and Art Director

Science fiction author, horror enthusiast, scourge of plutocracy, shortlisted for the H. G. Wells Award, creator of
Likes: 80s poster art, Vangelis, classical liberalism, dystopian allegories, dissident political activism, Noam Chomsky, George Orwell, George Saunders, John Updike, Kurt Vonnegut


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6 responses to “Ninja III: The Domination (1985)

  1. Wow. I have seen some grade B crap but this makes Maniac Cop look plausible. I really need to watch this masterpiece. A cop that practically assaults a woman & she falls in love with him? Of course! So 80s….loved your review! This flick should get the MST3k treatment.


  2. Susan, you have to see it. It’s just relentless in its absurdities. I was constantly skipping back to make sure I wasn’t imagining some of the scenes I was witnessing; It must have taken me 3 hours to get through a 90 minute movie.

    For someone who dabbles in screenwriting, you’ll be amazed at the contradictions in characterisation. Characters aternate between heroic and morally corrupt with such implausible regularity that they come across as insane.

    I’ve seen some enjoyable pap in my time, but in all likelihood this is in a class all by itself.


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