279) Duel to the Death (1983) Dir: Siu-Ting Ching Date Released (DVD): December 30, 2003 Date Seen: July 3, 2011 Rating: 4.25/5
Holy shit, this movie--how does this ninja movie exist? I busted a gut several times while watching it and audibly exclaimed, "YESSSS!" in my best Maurice LaMarche voice throughout the NYAFF screening. There's such much awesome in this film. Talking severed ninja heads that blow up for no reason! Swords that cleave multiple ninjas in half with just one blow! Giant ninjas! Naked flying ninjas! And so much more. I'm totally nuts for this film and probably sound like a nut, to (moreso than usual, even). But this movie is the goods.
My favorite scene is the one where someone is trying to poison someone else and that first someone is hidden in the dining hall's roof, lowering the poison into the second someone's cup by trickling it down a rope. Then a third someone seated next to that second someone notices what's going on, to paraphrase Marvin Gaye. And he casually jumps through the ceiling to apprehend the first someone. He just flies--into the ceiling. Like, he vertically lifts off. Like Poochy. Like, "I have to go now, my ninja needs me."
And you don't see what happens after that. You don't know what happens after that third guy jumps into the air to catch the first guy. BECAUSE THERE'S AN ABRUPT JUMP CUT. An abrupt jump cut that follows an abrupt jump into the air, you might say...
Writer/director Siu-Ting Ching decided, "Nah, we all know what's happening." But we don't! Not at all. How can...what can...who can?!