After watching Breakin’ and its sequel I looked up the the IMDB pages of its main stars. It seems Lucinda Dickey’s acting career was a rather short lived affair. She only starred in three movies in 1984 and had a supporting part in 1988’s Cheerleader Camp before retiring. But the third movie she starred in was none other than Ninja III: The Domination.
Ninja III: The Domination has become a cult classic over the years. This is a movie I have heard a lot about, but never seen. It has been the subject of a couple of video essays and will often pop up when the topic of discussion is Cannon films. With my freshly developed interest in Lucinda Dickey it was time to finally surrender myself to the craziness that is Ninja III: The Domination.
One of the reasons I probably never watched this movie is because of the title. This movie is the one everybody’s always talking about, but the title clearly indicates there are two previous movies. Do I really have to subject myself to 3 hours of schlocky ninja movies in order to fully comprehend Ninja III?
Luckily I don’t.
Ninja III: The Domination is only a sequel in name only. The three Ninja movies are all standalone movies. The only thing tying these three movies remotely together is the inclusion of Shô Kosugi. He is in all of them, but plays a different role in each one. In this movie he plays Yamada, a Ninja coming over from Japan to the US to avenge his missing eye taken by his nemesis who is only referred to as Black Ninja.
A strange name considering he wears a green outfit throughout the movie. It’s actually Yamada himself who wears a black outfit, making the naming scheme all the more silly.
Little does Yamada know that the green, eh I mean Black Ninja has been gunned down by the police in the opening scene of the movie. This opening scene is comedic gold in its own right. The ninja assassinates a scientist on a golf course. But not without taking out all of his bodyguards, his girlfriend and then a whole squad of police officers who really have a fast response time.
The Ninja manages to posses a young woman before disappearing into thin air. Her name is Christie (Lucinda Dickey) and she’s a telephone linewoman by day and an aerobics instructor by also day. After being questioned about the events that occurred she’s being hit on by police officer Secord (Jordan Bennett). She quickly falls for him, which gives the writer an excuse to constantly place her at the police station.
Every time she’s at the police station she sees someone who shot the Black Ninja. Once one of them is spotted he takes over her body, dons a ninja outfit and murders the cop in question. Meanwhile Secord is largely oblivious to all of this until we are treated to a scene which belongs in a spoof of The Exorcist. The best thing about this exorcism scene is that it stars the legendary James Wong.
Ninja III: The Domination is a guilty pleasure. It’s a silly movie that is unintentionally hilarious. The fights are hokey and its often obvious that the kicks and punches don’t actually land on the other person’s body. There is also a PG-13 sex scene which contains a special appearance by a can of V8 drink. Dickey, a dancer turned actress, gives it her all, but her line delivery is rather wooden. Her character is also clearly modeled after Jennifer Beals in Flashdance.
Of the three movies that she did, this one is the one that objectifies her the most. While she doesn’t have any nude scenes there are plenty of shots of her coming from a male gaze perspective. Not that I’m complaining; the girl looks great! She also doesn’t seem to care much for bras. She’s rarely seen with one in all of her movies. Also not complaining about that.
With its mix of Flashdance, The Exorcist and a Ninja movie, Ninja III: The Domination is probably one of Cannon’s most bonkers movies. But that gives it its charm. A charm that is still here 40 years later.
It’s a movie most people nowadays probably won’t like. Hell, it’s a movie most people didn’t like back then. But of you’re like me, and you are into old school action movies and schlock then Ninja III: The Domination is a fun way to spend 90 minutes of your time. The movie might be silly and can’t be taken serious as a ninja action movie, but it’s fun. It’s one of those bad movies that are just fun to watch because they are bad.