Friday, December 15, 2017

Wolfen Ninja

Wolfen Ninja
Pearl Chang

Wolfen Ninja also is known as Wolf Devil Woman or Wolfen Queen or Lang nu bai mo, but once notorious hack Joseph Lai got ahold of it, recut it and slapped a bunch of fake names on it, this particular version became Wolfen Ninja. To Lai’s credit, there are actually some ninjas in this movie, which is not always the case in his edited monstrosities. Lai tampers with Wolfen Ninja less than other films he's mauled, but that is because Pearl Chang had constructed a strong and enjoyably silly action movie that stands on its own.  Lai’s ham-handed editing and extremely questionable dubbing just add another layer of oddness to the proceedings.

A young couple with a baby attempt to escape a warlord called Red Devil by passing through some snowy mountains. Some other guy (a lieutenant of Red Devil?) in a dime store Halloween mask intercepts them. He and his ninja squad kill the couple, but not before they repeatedly smash their faces into a mountain and cause an avalanche. Their baby survives thanks to some friendly wolves. Years later a man named Li and his sidekick are looking for the fabled white ginseng root, which is the only thing that can defeat Red Devil. On that same mountain, they encounter an odd young woman wearing furs (or more accurately a plush dog on her head) who does not speak but does bite… a lot. They name her Snowflower (Pearl Chang).

Wolfen Ninja gleefully slips from zany to hyper-violent and back again. One moment we are watching Snowflower comically attempt to catch rabbits, and the next she is tearing the heads off of ninjas. There some My Fair Lady comedy with her trying to fit into the civilized world, and then we turn around and have wizards shooting lasers while Kung-Fu zombies fight our heroes. I get the feeling Pearl Chang’s original was already packed with stuff happening, but then to have Joseph Lai come along and hack the whole thing down to 90 minutes renders it almost incomprehensible. The last third of the movie is just action scenes sewn together with very little hope of a narrative.

"Drink me in if you dare, but I am clearly marked poison."
I would remiss if I did not mention the bizarre English dubbing. I am sure Joseph Lai didn’t pay top dollar for voice actors, but he somehow found a doozy in the person voicing the film’s villain, Red Devil. As far as supervillain wizards go, Red Devil sounds like he really enjoys his job. He laughs almost nonstop through the entire film, and I can’t really blame him, he looks like he’s having a blast.
Pearl Chung’s performance is outstanding, as Snowflower she is by turns comedic, vulnerable, and threatening. By the time she is storming Red Devil’s fortress you absolutely buy her as a formidable fighter. It’s really entertaining to watch her square off against a mob of bad guys and leave them torn to pieces.

Wolfen Ninja is extremely fun, and you will find the time the flying by, possibly due to a seizure induced by the editing.

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