Release Date(s)1984 (June 12, 2018)
Studio(s)Cannon Films/MGM/UA (Shout!/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: D+
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: B+
What do you get when you take ninja movies, Flashdance, Poltergeist, and The Exorcist, throw them into a pot, and release the result? You get Ninja III: The Domination, of course. Indistinguishable from the other movies in the Ninja series, this third entry boasts some of the wackiest decisions ever made by the folks working for Cannon Films, which is saying a lot. Lucinda Dickey (known primarily for her role in Breakin’) stars in this 1980s madcap adventure about a telephone-pole climbing aerobics instructor who winds up possessed by an evil ninja, slicing and dicing her way throughout Los Angeles while her flatfooted cop boyfriend (Jordan Bennett) attempts to stop her. Meanwhile, another ninja (Sho Kusigi) with a mysterious past follows the trail in an attempt to exorcise the evil ninja and put an end to his butchery once and for all.
Over the last few years, Ninja III: The Domination has quickly become one of the most popular cult titles on home video. Scream Factory originally released the film on Blu-ray in 2013 (which Dr. Jahnke previously reviewed), and five years later, it’s considered one of their best-selling titles. So much so that now they’re back with a re-release of the film, sporting the Collector’s Edition moniker. I needn’t retread what my friend Dr. Jahnke said about the film as my sentinments are pretty much the same (although you might find my rating to be slightly higher than his), but just to reiterate, it’s a film that defies both logic and criticism in only the best of ways. Everything about it is wrong and over-the-top, making it ridiculously watchable and fun. It’s not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s highly enjoyable and well worth your time.
Scream Factory’s new edition of Ninja III: The Domination sports a brand new 4K scan from “original film elements”, likely an interpositive. The previous Blu-ray of the film looked pretty good and didn’t warrant many complaints from me, but this is an all-around improvement in nearly every category. It’s a much crisper and sharper presentation with more prevalent film grain on display and higher levels of fine detail, particularly shadow detail. Colors are much warmer, including skin tones, and everything appears much brighter and more saturated. Blacks are deeper and there’s more information along the top and bottom edges of the frame. It’s also quite clean with only the mildest of speckling and scratches leftover. The opening of the film also appears much softer due to the title overlays, but everything improves substantially thereafter. A remarkable improvement, to say the least. The audio is presented in English 2.0 DTS-HD with optional subtitles in English SDH. I personally notice much of discernable difference between the original Blu-ray release and this release, which means they’re likely identical in quality. Everything comes through well, including dialogue, sound effects, score, and the musical selection, with good separation and decent widening. Nothing worthy of complaint here.
Since Scream Factory didn’t load up their previous release of the film with a lot of bells and whistles, they’ve loaded it up this time around, thanks in no small part to Red Shirt Pictures. Carried over is the very good audio commentary with director Sam Firstenberg and stunt coordinator Steve Lambert, which is moderated by Rob Galluzzo, and a still gallery with 95 promotional and behind-the-scenes images total (which has been split into two separate galleries for this release). New to the table is a set of isolated score selections and audio interviews with Misha Segal and Elliot Ellentuck, all of it moderated by Michael Felsher; Dancing with Death with Lucinda Dickey, an 18-minute interview with the actress about her first leading role in a movie and the experiences that came with it; Secord’s Struggle with Jordan Bennett, a nearly 11-minute interview with the actor about his role in the film, even mentioning that the addition of the V8 juice in the love scene was his idea; Birth of the Ninja with Alan Amiel, a 12-minute interview with the producer, stuntman, and assistant fight choreographer about his upbringing and career, covering his work in the film; the film’s theatrical trailer in HD; and the Trailers From Hell version of the trailer with commentary by Josh Olson. The previous release also came with a DVD of the film, which hasn’t been replicated here. Some of the film’s deleted scenes also appear to not have been dug up, likely due to licensing and element issues.
What more can be said about this crazy film? Ninja III: The Domination is a slice of 80s nostalgia and Cannon Films action fodder packed into 92 fun-filled minutes. Scream Factory’s update of the title is totally warranted, as well. With a much better presentation and some terrific extras, this is definitely worth the double-dip if you’re a fan. Highly recommended.
- Tim Salmons