Ninja Operation 5: Godfather The Master (1986)

Directed by: Joseph Lai
Written by: Stephen Soul
Producers: Joseph Lai & Betty Chan
Starring: Richard Harrison, Grant Temple, Master Lee, Adam Frank, Peter Ujaer, Rita Bachmann & Geoferey Ziebart

Rival gangs (with the mastermind being Paolo the Ninja, played by Grant Temple) kill off Raymond's father and the son swears to take revenge. Appearing on the scene as seemingly goofy and harmless, he starts to seek out his father's murderer. Meanwhile Gordon the Ninja (Richard Harrison) is performing assassinations on Paolo's men one by one...

Sometimes when you're in a producing groove and especially when using formula, it's best to keep that train going and not deviate too much because some kind of financial gain keeps being present. That's why we had the fairly large volume of ninja movies from IFD patched together via their own footage and acquired movies from elsewhere. Sometimes the energy as provided by them was akin to low budget genius, sometimes the source movie shined the most and in the case of Ninja Operation 5: Godfather The Master, the formula runs into trouble. It's not enough to simply do it yet again, that's the problem Joseph Lai clearly ran into.

Turning to South Korea for their bought property to combine with ninjas in action, the 1986 gangster actioner Osaka Godfather (directed by Lee Hyeok-su) was chosen to be a suitable skeleton to hang ninjutsu onto. Even in the best of IFD cut and paste actioners, the ludicrous nature of having ninjas run alongside whatever plot in question was amusing. Here it can be but in very short bursts as we initially see Richard Harrison pose randomly (set to A-ha's 'The Sun Always Shines On TV') for the credits, perform the stock ninja assassination featuring a few seconds of quality acrobatics from the stuntmen and Harrison pulling down his ninja mask before exiting, This silly familiarity combined with initial and promising brawling present in the Korean footage signals a bearable time at least but matters deteriorate bigtime and quick.

Trying to arrange the character gallery neatly in your head, who's connected to who, who's betraying who gets increasingly tricky and a lot of blame (seemingly or at least as arranged and dubbed by IFD) has to go towards Osaka Godfather. Here is a low budget mafia picture that doesn't seem to be able to distinguish itself beyond stock-plotting and engaging in any conflict and revenge is nigh on impossible. Especially since said brawling happens way too infrequently and hence offers no distraction.

Granted Richard Harrison gets to perform some variation to the various assassination scenes as he sometimes does it out of the ninja outfit, laces darts with poison, uses guns (including in the final fight with Grant Temple) but Ninja Operation 5 is still a showcase for how inept the thinking could be at IFD. Not everything could be done the same way every time and you could expect action-energy. One of the toughest cut and paste watches.

reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson