Setting out initially to cover the largely uncovered section of IFD's history (check out the Wolfen Ninja review for a basic breakdown of their history and practices) concerning their presentations of complete gems from late 70s/early 80s Taiwan fantasy- and exploitation cinema, in reality what is also sadly unmentioned when bringing up their famous/infamous Ninja cut & paste productions often starring Richard Harrison is that some of the mixtures of an older Asian movie with newly shot footage with Westerners inserted is that some of them were actually good! Good from both Joseph Lai's and Godfrey Ho's camp and the original movie underneath. Or it was the case of IFD spicing up a completely unrelated movie so well, both movie A and movie B if you will thrived. For sure, many of IFD's Ninja movies and the likes were chores and essentially only coming to life when Richard Harrison's or Pierre Kirby's scenes got showcased but this continuing coverage and onwards will still focus on when IFD formula was golden not only for the market looking for anything Ninja-ish or bearing the IFD logo.
Official Exterminator - Kill For Love (also known as Ninja Knight 2 - Kill For Love) is IFD creating a new plot out of Richard Chen's Kill For Love (1982), starring Luk Siu-Fan and as always credited as Fonda Lynn at IFD. A dark, relationship melodrama from the director of Girl With A Gun (Fury In Red at IFD, Taiwan's remake of Abel Ferrara's Ms. 45) originally and underneath it Mark Watson is inserted into a revenge-plot with Mike Abbott (1*) as his target. One ninja scene, awkward acting, dialogue and contrasts between movie A and B follows. The exciting period for Taiwan cinema is present and as good as Chen's remake was, his collaborations with the stunning and game Luk Siu-Fan are bland and rather disappointing actually. The Anger (reformed by IFD as Inferno Thunderbolt) seemed to only come alive during the violent acts of the finale in slow-motion and same can be said for Kill For Love that you can judge very well as a lot of its structure shines through despite it being baked into Official Exterminator - Kill For Love.
To try and outmuscle rival company The Pacific Corporation, boss Blake (Mike Abbott) sends Charlie Fong (Chiu Shu-Hoi) to try and infiltrate the company all the way to the top. Charlie falls in love with Fonda (Luk Siu-Fan), one of the factory workers at the company but the rage and jealousy in Fonda over time takes over to lethal levels. Meanwhile a cop (Mark Watson) goes renegade to avenge the death of his partner and the target is Blake and his bike-riding and ninja henchmen...
As in Ninja Knight Thunder Fox, much of Mike Abbott's scenes are shot in a set acting as a boardroom with nothing on the already white walls so IFD aren't even taking time out to spice up their frames. In addition to the story connecting to Kill For Love being wafer thin, you also need to think that IFD made their big money on the Western market with this cut and paste approach so often there was no need for a creative frame to accompany any of their spliced together products. With Abbott's slow but often hypnotic way of delivering awkwardly awkward lines and the requisite dialogue between the unrelated movies over the phone, we're lead a bit into Kill For Love where few story gaps occur despite about 10 minutes having been cut. Richard Chen originally featured a narrative jumping back and forward in time during the first reel or two and the only true victim of the editing is the character of Mary who has a more active role in the 1982 movie. But the main core of Fonda and Charlie soon takes center stage and from this point, the re-editing by IFD of Kill For Love to make room for 'Official Exterminator' is still pretty faithful to the original movie.
We get the telltale signs of Fonda possessing some violent streaks during the nightclub scene and that she's desperate for company, which is sufficient setup but Richard Chen largely focusing on only his two leads and the relationship spiraling out of control doesn't take command of the small scope. In fact, the chemistry between Luk Siu-Fan and Chin Shu-Hoi is basic at best and it's a pretty tedious time, even when Abbott and Mark Watson come knockin' on the movie's door every now and again. Actors alone in the frame can be hypnotic but there's no snap evident, no creeping, foreboding tale being told. Simply put, it seems Richard isn't adept at the ordinary but more apt at creating memorable imagery once violence has firmly crept in and the frame rate has slowed down.
After IFD's story re-construction, the character of Charlie comes off as suitably cold, willing to take any kind of order and a bit of heartbreak does occur because he does flat out abandon Fonda for the career path he's supposed to be on. Affecting material in theory but Chen steps up the exploitation and melodrama factor a bit better during an attempted rape of Luk Siu-Fan by a bike gang and she gets increasingly sexier the more her psyche spirals out of control (in a shameless, exploitation way this amps up the sexy factor). Culminating in eerie slow motion violence that shows Chen falling in love with Ms. 45 to the extent where he wanted an eerie slow motion ending in multiple movies, remakes or not and then made sure to represent it well subsequently. Mark Watson as our hero also battles it out with various assassins, his Chinese acrobatic doubles do a great job in poor wigs and as standard as IFD's beats are, there's good standard in the physicality and the basic gunplay on display. It prevents total boredom in Official Exterminator - Kill For Love and whenever I reach 1984's Temptation either in that form or when presented by IFD as American Commando 3: Savage Temptation, it remains to be seen if Luk Siu-Fan had the most effective working relationship with Karen Yang Chia-Yun (Deadly Darling, Breakout From Oppression) or if she and Richard Chen could finally knock one out of the park. So far, 2 out.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson
(1) Mike and Mark were utilized frequently in 1987 by IFD in at least 5 movies, including the unrelated part 2 and 4 of the Official Exterminator series (that, if the aka's online are correct, reached 5 movies) and Platoon The Warriors. It almost feels like they shot their little 10-15 minute stories for each of their shared appearances in one go. Efficient thinking if so.