04/19/1982 at 01:00 AM EST
With the blood and guts kept out of sight and some James Bondesque humor filling the gaps, this film manages to leap over many of the martial-arts film's clichés. Franco Nero plays the Ninja, an American import to Japan. (A Ninja, we learn, is one well versed in the medieval Japanese pastime of Ninjutsu, or "art of assassination.") Equipped with every hand-to-hand combat move imaginable, he travels to Manila, where he visits an old war buddy, Alex Courtney, and the buddy's rifle-wielding wife, sexy Susan George. Also in town are a resident bully known as "The Hook," played for fun by the roly-poly Zachi Noy, and an evil corporate genius (Christopher George). He seems intent on ruling the world, but will settle for the Philippines. Enter our Nero with the usual aplomb-filled dropkicks, and everything is tidy again. Writer Dick Desmond's script is often campy, and George is amusingly villainous. Director Menahem Golan avoids the genre's "violence is golden" rule, for which he deserves a pat on the back, but nothing more strenuous.