Old School Kung Fu Fest ’15: Enter the Ninjas!!

Since the dawn of time, man’s natural predator has been the ninja. Hiding in your shower, crouching behind your laptop, clinging to your back — the ninja is everywhere. What killed the dinosaurs? Ninja. What battles great white shark? Ninja. Who is buying flowers for your mom? Probably ninja. Ninja is not vampire! Ninja can be filmed! This year’s Old School Kung Fu Fest examines this crazy natural phenomena of ninja with 14 movies that show you this sneaky fighter where he cannot shoot throwing stars into your eyes: on the movie screen!

There are serious black-and-white ninjas in the original ninja films Shinobi No Mono 1 & 2 (1962 and 1963), super-noir ninjas in 1965’s Samurai Spy, party-colored crazy ninjas from the go-go 1980’s like American Ninja 1 & 2 and then be entered, revenged, and dominated by Cannon’s essential ninja trilogy: Enter the NinjaRevenge of the Ninja, and Ninja III: The Domination. Watch brave Chinese people fight ninjas with their guts in Shaw Brothers movies like Five Element Ninjas where ninjas are wrapped in gold foil like baked potato! See ninjas fly on kites and battle Shaolin in Duel to the Death! You must see all the ninjas! Because to fight ninja, first you must understand the heart of ninja.

WARNING: Do not be scared. Ninja are only in movie and cannot hurt you. They are not actually giant. Except in Duel to the Death.

NOTICE: Sho Kosugi is meditating in a mist-filled temple built deep within an active volcano until mankind needs him once again.

TICKETS are now available at: oldschool15.brownpapertickets.com Ticket sales end 48 hours before the show but only a small portion were held for online sales. There will be tickets available at Anthology!!


(1985, 95min, 35mm)
dir. Sam Firstenberg

You hardly need to worry about character development when your characters are almost constantly attacked by armies of ninjas, and AMERICAN NINJA proves that sometimes quantity can be better than quality. It features more ninjas per minute (NPM — you can immediately tell whether or not a movie is any good if it has high NPM) than any other ninja movie that came before it. It also has a colossal body count (more than 100!), in the gloriously violent grand tradition of the ‘80s action films. And it stars Michael Dudikoff’s cool hair, Steve James’ muscles, and the mysterious Black Star Ninja with his ninja training camp and ninja gadgets, including the ninja laser!

Saturday April 18 3:00PM

(1987, 90min, 35mm)
dir. Sam Firstenberg

In the remote Caribbean, Hawaiian-shirt-wearing U.S. Marines are mysteriously vanishing from their base. Michael Dudikoff and Steve James are called in to investigate, and soon they find themselves matching their deadly skills against a psychotic drug lord, The Lion, and his Clone Super Ninja Army! Are Dudukoff’s cool hair and James’ tiny red shorts enough to defeat the conspiracy that threatens the entire world? This is a movie that says what we’re all thinking, “Ninjas? Drug pushers? My men being kidnapped and murdered? This is really beginning to get on my tits!”

Sunday April 19 9:30pm

(1983, 83min, DCP, in Cantonese with English subtitles)
dir. Ching Siu-tung

The first movie from Hong Kong’s great action director, Ching Siu-tung (Swordsman II, House of Flying Daggers) is a fever dream of freaky pictures ripped straight outta your id, a bizzaro whirlwind of flashing blades, teleporting demons, and killer puppets. Once every 10 years, Japanese and Chinese fighters duel (to the death) to figure out who will rule the martial world. But this time, they detect a conspiracy! They detect…ninjas! Kite ninjas, burrowing ninjas, giant ninjas — it’s a ninja hoedown! As a young boy, Ching read Martial Arts World Magazine and dreamed up weird ways to make kung fu cooler. Then he made this movie and showed the world that kung fu could only be cooler if the king of ninjas had an exploding head.

Thursday April 16 8:30pm
Saturday April 18 1:00pm

(1981, 100min, 35mm)
dir. Menahem Golan

In this landmark Cannon Films production that launched the ninja craze of the ‘80s, Franco Nero (Django Unchained) oozes ninja. Because when you think of a ninja, the mental image in your mind is going to be very close to Franco Nero: tall, blond, a little solid in the weight department, and adorned with a thick Maurizio Merli mustache. Franco Nero visits his old war buddy in the Philippines and helps him ward off goons sent by a greedy developer. Thanks to his ninja training, Franco Nero hits the bad guys a lot, and even transforms into Mike Stone – the film’s mastermind/action choreographer/writer – to deliver the occasional kick or flip. Only a ninja can defeat a ninja, so the bad guys hire Sho Kosugi to kill Franco Nero. The rest, as they say, is goofy action fun history.

Thursday April 16 6:15pm

(1982, 103 minutes, 35mm, in Mandarin with English subtitles)
dir. Chang Cheh

In the 80s, Shaw Brothers was losing audiences to TV and so they decided to glue butts to seats by hiring Chang Cheh to direct his most insane movie ever. A Chinese martial arts clan is fighting everyone and winning but then they fight ninjas. Ninjas who know Five Element Formation! So secret! So deadly! The only survivor learns that in order to beat ninja…he must become ninja! Ninja fights using Gold Powers, Wood Powers, Water Powers, Earth Powers, Fire Powers! Chinese martial arts man uses Hitting Ninjas in Face Power! Trees bleed. Crotches are stabbed. Guts are extracted. Every second of this movie is high-octane man-against-ninja action and it does not end until every inch of the screen is covered in dead ninja.

Saturday April 18 5:00pm

(1983, 88 minutes, 35mm, in Mandarin with English subtitles)
dir. Lee Tso-nam

Chen Kuan-tai is ninja-pooper: he knows ninja, but poops their parties. Police ask for help, he been in many martial art movie (like Crippled Avengers), he must help police. He says yes. Yes, I fight ninja. He fight the ninja?!? Ninja get furious. Use hypno-mind-control killers, flying snakes, tiny bombs, poison ink, swords and knives, even get World Wrestling Champion Wong Kin-mi to wear little red briefs and turn over cars. And stomp! And kill! Big fights! Then Chen Kuan-tai fight the head ninja, Yasuaki Kurata, in secret ninja fort. There can be only one. Is exciting! You must see A Life of Ninja to believe A Life of Ninja!

Friday April 17 10:15pm

(1984, 92min, 35mm)
dir. Sam Firstenberg

Lucinda Dickey (Breakin’, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo), a telephone maintenance technician and part-time aerobics instructor, becomes possessed by the spirit of an evil ninja assassin. Forced to carry out her tormentor’s brutal revenge, she soon finds that one of her main targets is her policeman boyfriend! Only one man – Sho Kosugi (a ninja!) – can exorcise the evil which possesses Lucinda and prevent the lovers from destroying each other, in this epic struggle between superhuman ninja strength and supernatural ninja forces.

Saturday April 18 9:30pm

(1983, 90min, Digital projection)
dir. Sam Firstenberg

Cannon followed the box office success of Enter the Ninja with Revenge of the Ninja, perhaps the greatest ninja film of the ‘80s. Sho Kosugi (a ninja!) returns home from an afternoon stroll only to find his family massacred by bad guy ninjas. With his mother and infant son he flees Japan for Los Angeles, vowing to forsake the ninja life forever. With the help of his friend and business partner, he opens an art gallery, specializing in fancy Japanese dolls. What he doesn’t know is his friend is actually an evil ninja who wears a silver demon mask… who’s also smuggling heroin into the country inside of the dolls! This movie has all a grindhouse fan could ask for: tremendous body count, fountains of blood, cheap 1980s sex scenes, Sho Kosugi kicking ass on gangsters, and dueling ninjas!

Friday April 17 6:00pm

(1965, 100min, 35mm, in Japanese with live English subtitles)
dir. Masahiro Shinoda

Unconventional in its mise-en-scène, photography and score, unrelenting in its dark philosophical view of war and its consequences, unparalled in its artistic ambition, Samurai Spy is an existentialist super-noir ninja masterpiece by Masahiro Shinoda (Pale Flower, Double Suicide), which towers over the shinobi genre, and possibly the entire jidai-geki category as a whole. As the days of the Warring States come to a close and the Tokugawa shogunate consolidates its power, wandering samurai (and really, a Koga ninja) Sasuke Sarutobi, war-weary, tries very hard to stay clear of the bloody business of the remaining factions. The sudden defection of a high-profile spy from the service of the shogun, puts an end to his aimless wanderings. Inevitably, Sasuke is sucked into a maze of conspiracies and shadow-play. The plot thickens when both the defector and the former wanderer find out they are tracked by a third man: a shadowy white-hooded master assassin (Tetsuro Tamba).

Friday April 17 8:00pm


We can’t tell you the title of this Japanese 1970s cult classic that was first distributed by Roger Corman to the grindhouse theaters in the U.S., but trust us: you want to see it on the big screen, on 35mm, with an audience! Before the show, we’re going to give away prizes, and make a couple of announcements regarding the lineup and guests for this year’s New York Asian Film Festival, so what more could you possible ask for!?

Saturday April 18 7:20pm

(1963, 98min, 35mm, in Japanese with live English subtitles)
dir. Yasuto Hasegawa

Toei’s star-studded response to Daiei’s hugely successful 1960s franchise, Shinobi No Mono, was a nocturnal, cynical game of chess between two master manipulators, with attrition and sacrifice as the main gambits. As the ruling Shogun lies on his death futon, seventeen Iga clan ninja are trusted by their master with an impossible mission: to infiltrate the impregnable fortress where his youngest son plans to take both Edo Castle and the supreme power by force. They have two options: to steal the scroll that will grant legitimacy to the usurper’s claim, or to assassinate him. Before they can even reach the stronghold, a vicious ninja hunter thwarts their every move. As the Iga ninja fall, the success of the mission falls in the hands of one young and inexperienced ninja.


Sunday April 19 1:00pm.

(1962, 105min, Digital projection, in Japanese with English subtitles)
dir. Satsuo Yamamoto

A monster of a movie, worthy of all the superlatives it has earned, Shinobi no Mono was conceived by the fevered minds of far-left director Satsuo Yamamoto and nihilistic pulp novelist Tomoyoshi Murayama, and if you’re devious enough, can be read as a socialist allegory. Incidentally, it’s quite possibly the ultimate real ninja film. Fate and the invisible hands of evil spymasters ensnare Goemon Ichikawa (superstar Raizo Ichikawa), a dashing but naive young man exceedingly skilled in the arcanes of ninja arts, in the tangles of a dark plot to assassinate warlord Nobunaga Oda, a cat-loving, power-hungry samurai. Soon, Goemon finds himself outlawed, betrayed and embroiled in the most labyrinthine political machinations. Produced with the help of the last living ninja master, Masaaki Hatsumi, Shinobi no Mono features authentic, realistic ninja action that it packs in a transcendental template. Eight sequels would ensue, and many, many more imitations.

Sunday April 19 5:15pm

(1963, 93min, Digital projection, in Japanese with English subtitles)
dir. Satsuo Yamamoto

Surpassing its predecessor in the same way The Godfather II is seen by some as superior to the first, the second installment of the Shinobi No Mono series outdoes its precursor at its own game: deeper, darker, and crueller in all aspects. The sole survivor of his Iga fortress village, Goemon Ishikawa aspires only to live the boring life of a family guy. Overlord Nobunaga Oda and fate have other plans for the retired ninja. Not one to leave out any details, the warlord goes a on nation-wide rampage to root out any ninja who might have survived. Bloody mass murder ensues. And soon, vengeance is the only thing that matters to Goemon. The desperate ninja finds unlikely allies in the Saiga clan and spymaster Hattori Hanzo. With nothing left to lose, he weaves a web of deceit and double-crossing to bring bring down Nobunaga.


Sunday April 19 7:30pm

(1990, 93min, 35mm)
dir. Steve Barron

For years Michaelangelo, Leonardo, Donatello and Raphael have lived deep in the sewers of New York, learning the art of ninjitsu from their mentor, Splinter… ok, we all know the story by now about our favorite pizza-eating humanoid turtle heroes, and the only way to forget about Michael Bay’s lazy and tedious reboot of TMNT, is to appreciate the first and still the best movie version of the popular comic book, where Turtles were lovingly brought to life by actual people doing actual stunts, while wearing body suits created by Jim Hanson’s Creature Shop. Lean, green, and on the screen – it’s CGI-free turtle ninja power!

Sunday April 19 3:15pm

Anthology Film Archives 32 2nd Ave