The ninja or shinobi have formed part of Japanese legend and folklore for hundreds of years. These mercenaries or ‘assassins for hire’ have managed to obtain an aura of mystery and are often viewed as almost supernatural beings. With special powers and abilities forming much of this myth. This was transplanted into film, across Asia, and by the 1980s it had even seeped into Hollywood. Not that Treasure of the Ninja has much in common with studio films!
During the 1980s, William Lee wrote, directed, starred-in and produced a number of DIY action films. Shooting in Super 8 in Ohio and New York City, his work was very much a labour of love. The black filmmaker made Treasure of the Ninja while at university. He plays the hero, a secret agent and ninja Magneta Faze, who guides a female professor (Constance Lester) towards a hidden treasure, while fighting off a number of bad guys.
What Treasure of the Ninja might lack in production value, it makes up for it in blood, sweat and tears. There’s so much inspiration and imagination in William Lee’s film, it’s easy to forgive the somewhat stilted dialogue and wooden acting. The fact it got made at all is a minor miracle in itself. Lee subsequently had to put in the legwork to get it seen. While Treasure of the Ninja might not stand up to most of its peers, you have to sit back and admire the sheer determination in bringing it to fruition.
- Bonus movie: DRAGON VS. NINJA (1984), previously unreleased and transferred in 2K from the original Super 8 elements
- TREASURE OF THE NINJA: New transfer from the original 3/4” master tape
- TREASURE OF THE NINJA: Commentary track with William Lee and Bleeding Skull’s Annie Choi and Joseph A. Ziemba
- Short: THE NEW CHINESE CONNECTION (1980), previously unreleased and transferred in 2K from the original Super 8 elements
- Shorts: the WILLIE JACK series, all previously unreleased and transferred in 2K from the original Super 8 elements
- Reversible cover artwork
Treasure of the Ninja is released on Blu-Ray by 101 Films x AGFA on 18 July.