Enter the Ninja (1981) Revisited: Action Movie Review

Enter the Ninja was The Cannon Group’s big attempt to cash in on the martial arts movie craze that dominated action flicks since the mid-seventies and the public’s newer fascination with Ninjas thanks to the famous novel The Ninja by Eric Van Lustbader. Importing Italian star Franco Nero, who would be extensively doubled and dubbed, Menahem Golan made a cheesy action flick that’s hard to take seriously – but is also pretty fun. Notably, it introduced the world to Sho Kosugi, a real-deal martial artist from Japan who plays the movie’s antagonist. He would be elevated to hero status when the film got two loosely related sequels, Revenge of the Ninja and Ninja III: The Domination.

For Cannon, this would set the tone for the next five years, where the company would have colossal success doing modestly scaled action movies, like Delta Force, Bloodsport, and more ninja flicks, such as American Ninja. Their downfall would come when they would pump money into misguided projects that flopped (Superman IV: The Quest for Peace), and by the decade’s end, they would be mostly defunct.

Even still, Enter the Ninja is action exploitation filmmaking at its most entertaining, if not its “best.” It isn’t a great movie, but it’s a super fun one, especially if you’re having a few beers and watching it with friends. We’ll tell you all about it on this week’s Reel Action, which is written and narrated by Travis Hopson, and edited by E.J. Tangonan.

If you want to learn more about Cannon Films, check out Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films!

About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.