NEW YORK NINJA (1984/2021) Reviews and overview

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New York Ninja is a 1984/2021 comedic action film in which a TV crew sound technician becomes a vigilante after his pregnant wife is murdered.

Originally directed by and starring Taiwanese martial arts star John Liu (The Secret Rivals, Invincible Armor) in his only American production, New York Ninja was fully filmed in 35mm in 1984, but the project was abandoned during post-production resulting in all original audio materials being lost over time.

Thirty-five years later, Vinegar Syndrome acquired the original unedited camera negative and Kurtis Spieler (The Devil’s Well; Sheep Skin) painstakingly constructed and completed the film. Produced by Brad Henderson, Arthur Schweitzer and Kurtis Spieler.

Furthermore, the voice talents of genre favourites were enlisted to dub the original actors: Don “The Dragon” Wilson (Bloodfist, Whatever It Takes), Linnea Quigley (Return of the Living Dead, Nightmare Sisters), Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes, Auntie Lee’s Meat Pies), Vince Murdocco (Night Hunter, LA Wars), Matt Mitler (The Mutilator, Battle for the Lost Planet), Leon Isaac Kennedy (Lone Wolf McQuade, Penitentiary), Ginger Lynn Allen (The Devil’s Rejects, Vice Academy), and Cynthia Rothrock (China O’Brien, Martial Law).



John (John Liu) is just an average man working as a sound technician for a New York City news station, until one day his pregnant wife is brutally murdered after witnessing the kidnapping of a young woman in broad daylight.

Turning to the police for help, John soon learns that the city is overrun with crime and the police are too busy to help deal with most of it. Dressing as a white ninja, John takes to the streets as a sword-wielding vigilante hell-bent on cleaning up the streets of the city he once loved by ridding it of muggers, pickpockets and gang members.


However, in John’s quest for justice, he soon finds himself the target of every criminal in the city, including a mysterious villain known only as The Plutonium Killer. Will John survive to become the hero that New York City so desperately needs?


” …the movie is a thoroughly enjoyable romp, full of campy moments that will make you laugh New York Ninja harkens back to a more innocent period of action filmmaking – an era before bloodshed became de rigeur, before non-stop mayhem turned into a requirement. If you want a dose of old-school low-fi martial arts fun, this is a picture you absolutely must-see.” The Aisle Seat

” …it’s fun to see an old school film all shot on location in 1980s NY. If ninja films and movies of the midnight/B-movie variety are not your thing (and if you have little sense of humour!) you may not get as much out of it but for all of us 80s ninja cult movie fans out there, New York Ninja is a must.” Far East Films

” …New York Ninja is a movie that defies reason […] a Frankenstein like effort of patching together a derelict action movie to create something entirely new. It is a testament to the filmmakers’ spirit and just how much fun a movie can have! With its backstory, New York Ninja is a category of its own and truly one of a kind. An assured to be cult classic…” iHorror

“The film never strives to push the boundaries of martial arts cinema or topple the existing pillars of its genre, but the film’s simplistic story still manages to offer laughs, exciting fights, and one of the most bizarre villains ever created. For fans of this style and genre, this experience should be a rite of passage and is a joy to watch.” Keith Loves Movies

“The acting and production values of NY Ninja are not that different from what can be seen in Y.K. Kim’s The Miami Connection, but Liu’s high-kicking skills are still impressive. It is also cool to watch time-capsule-like footage of New York, including pre-Giuliani Times Square […] If you check out NY Ninja for the right reasons, you should have fun…” J.B. Spins

” …as goofy and silly and more than occasionally disbelief-stretching as it is, there’s an earnestness and enthusiasm to the ineptitude. Sure, some of the fight choreography looks like it was done by a beginner karate class, but everyone sells out and buys in so hard it’s impossible not to get swept up in the fervor and utter doofus joy.” The Last Thing I See

“Thankfully they don’t try to yuck up the vocal delivery or script here; it’s played as straight as any standard ’80s action film, which of course makes it far more enjoyable and free from the self-conscious pandering that’s hampered too many other nostalgia-baiting productions […] On top of that, it’s just purely entertaining with tons of action scenes and a truly nutso final 20 minutes you have to see to believe.” Mondo Digital

“Sure it is trash, but it is also the collected trash of memory and of childhood, on which no price can be put – and it comes with the added pleasure of now being able to be viewed with the irony of distance, so that, seen through today’s eyes, this once at least semi-sincere exercise in scuzzy vengeance and masked crime-fighting has become, as well as a repository of lost memories, its own best self-parody.” Projected Figures


“Killer stunts! Crazy outfits! Gratuitous Sharon Mitchell cameo! Speedo-clad spearfishing! An underage sidekick! Gratuitous boobs! A radioactive mutant villain! A guy who chews on his own rattail! Vintage eighties Times Square footage! Roller-skating! Rapping over the end credits!” Rock! Shock! Pop!

“Thankfully everyone who was associated with the restoration effort took it seriously. There’s no hamming it up or intentionally funny dialogue in New York Ninja. And in the end, given the material, it’s much more amusing that way. It entertains the same way these films did at the time, with its own mix of charm and cheese…” Voices from the Balcony

“There’s so much jaw-dropping, head-scratching absurdity and wackiness on display that it would be a shame to spoil much for future viewers […] The result is incredible, and it’s amazing to know that this film, as loopy as it is, was originally made with a big heart and that Spieler’s effort to bring Liu’s unfinished project to the world is nothing short of astounding.” When It Was Cool


New York Ninja premiered at Beyond Fest 2021 in Los Angeles.

A 2-disc Blu-ray can be now ordered direct from Vinegar Syndrome

Region Free 2-disc Blu-ray Set
Scanned and restored in 4K from its 35mm original camera negative
Digitally mastered 2.0 stereo mix with an optional analog mono mix
Commentary track with re-writer/re-director/editor Kurtis M. Spieler
“Re-Enter The New York Ninja” – an extended making-of documentary with the cast and crew
“Re-Directing New York Ninja” – an interview with Kurtis M. Spieler
“The Music of New York Ninja” – interviews with the members of Voyag3r
“Locations Unmasked” – revisiting the locations of New York Ninja with Michael Gingold
Deleted scenes with commentary
B-roll and outtake montage
Original sizzle reel VHS
Theatrical trailer
Still gallery
Case artwork by Tom Hodge of The Dude Designs
Blu-ray sleeve artwork by R.P. “Kung Fu Bob” O’Brien
English SDH subtitles


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