To Catch a Ninja (1984)


to catch ninja 2

Director: Gam Ming

Starring: Don Wong Tao, Yasuaki Kurata, Yin Su-li, Chiang Tao

90 Minutes

When a priceless horse figure is stolen by a ninja (Yasuaki Kurata), a hardnosed detective (Wong Tao) will stop at nothing to get his man. Teaming with a surprisingly well trained insurance investigator (Yin Su-li), the two navigate multiple attempts on their lives while the thief faces his own double cross at the hands of his employers.

Director Lee Gam Ming is the man responsible for this eyeroll inducing actioner that isn’t even ‘so bad it’s good.’ There is an overly long break-in sequence that, I suppose, satisfies the ninja requirement for the first part of the film that consists of Yasuaki Kurata sneaking around and flipping over desks in an empty room. It is all very uninteresting and it takes a long while before any decent action takes place. Wong is very hammy as the detective, he goes about his investigation in a VERY straightforward way that is part revenge and part duty. Uncompelling to say the least. Yu proves Wong’s equal in flat expressions and deductive skills, demonstrating a considerable amount of bad judgment for a fight trained insurance agent. Kurata himself, not known for his acting, goes through the motions and we simply wait for the chance to see him use his fists and kicks.

Shot on very cheap film, the movie is photographed with an amateur’s ability. Action is poorly staged, there are multiple gaffes in production, and the whole thing feels incomplete. Music is omnipresent in virtually every scene, filling in silence with repetitive but varied incidental BGM, presumably also to fill in the lack of excitement on screen.

While the movie is very poorly made, that doesn’t mean that the film does not have some memorable elements; standout scenes include a very well done (and overdue) final fight, a group of pink rollerskate wearing ninjas chasing down a three-wheel microcar, and… that’s it. There is not a lot I can say positive about this movie.

Produced on a very noticeably shoestring budget, To Catch a Ninja is not a very good film. It is full of terrible acting, continuity errors, and unintentionally funny moments. Aside from a spectacularly acrobatic final fight that shows off the great Kurata (and some pretty unfortunate upskirt), To Catch a Ninja is certainly not worth your time unless you are a die hard Kurata fan or are on some level, able to ironically enjoy bad martial arts films.


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Long time film lover and occasional writer. I watch anything and everything though I have massive love for the works of Shunji Iwai, Jackie Chan, Johnnie To, and Kinji Fukasaku. POP! POP!

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