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Jade Dagger Ninja

Crash Cinema // Unrated // November 4, 2003
List Price: $14.97 [Buy now and save at Hkflix]

Review by J. Doyle Wallis | posted October 20, 2003 | E-mail the Author
I can describe Jade Dagger Ninja in three words: MADE IN TAIWAN. Usually quite a bit more ramshackle than an HK martial production, Taiwan produced films for cheapie market, for the mainland outdoor theaters and Filipino grindhouses. And, it's a puzzler. Jade Dagger Ninja's audience wanted some color, so you get a big cast of characters with names like Sunset Fairy and Master Cold Heart, stage sets from the Land of Oz, and a twisting story of soap opera motivations and scenes where spies are spying on other spies spying on people. It also has great lines of dialogue like, "Be careful with your badger. It is very valuable. Someone may want to steal it."

A lord has invited dignitaries to witness the marriage of his daughter. But, some of his guests like the Four Kings only want to get their hands on the Purple Jade Badger, a relic the lord possess that is said to contain an elixir that will transform the drinker into a powerful martial artist. Martial artist/swordsman Lu Shao Feng (Tien Peng) arrives, saying he is representing his ill master, when in actuality he is there looking for the murderer of his wife, a man called Shining Death..... and well, it gets confusing. As I try to remember the plot, there are enough passages of dialogue that ran in vague circles, characters making assumptions of assumptions, poisoners being poisoned, gold lame outfits, and general twists, that recalling the film is like some kind if hallucinatory dream. Lets just say that there are multiple conspiracies afoot, from Lu wanting to revenge for his masters death, a guy named the Heartbreak Warrior, and a sect called Heartbreak Red that employs not only the bridegroom but a sassy tart to try and ruin the lord.

Oh yeah, and by the end, we do see someone drink the magic elixir. As you can see by the cover, his skin turns green and he spouts a huge white lions mane of hair and a beard. He also growls and roars like a Harryhausen dinosaur and does stuff like bite swords and throw people through Styrofoam brick walls.

I couldn't find much info on director Lee Chiu Wing. He seems to be another of those low rent directors doing Taiwanese films. According to the hkmdb he made three films (Hero's Tears, Dream Sword and Jade Dagger Ninja) and all had Doris Lung (Moonlight Sword and Jade Lion, Eight Masters, Master of the Flying Guillotine) in the cast.

It is cheap and silly and confusing. Those with a hankering for such flamboyant outfit kung fu will be pleased, but purists should definitely stay away. It is like being a horror fan. There is a difference between recommending Rosemary's Baby and recommending Bad Taste.

The DVD: Crash Cinema

Picture: Full-screen. A typical bad looking vhs master. The print is pretty worn and soft. Color especially suffers diluting the pastel colored sets. Faded contrast. Those familiar with the sad state of kung fu getting decent transfer know the deal.

Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono. Once again, fans know the deal, English dub only. Shows the same signs of wear as the picture quality, though, for the most part, the vocals are quite aloud and clear with little distortion.

Extras: Chapter and Jump to Fight Scene Selections--- Gallery of screen caps.

Conclusion: It is a weird one. I'd say it is wacky and fun enough to be worth a look for fans of this type of more cult oriented martial film. Plus, it is pretty cheaply priced. Still, the quality is a shame, but such is the case with old kung fu, there just aren't that many companies willing to settle and scramble for letterboxed, remastered prints of such fare. Only a casual purchase.


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