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Review The Octagon (1980): Not even Ninja's can save this film!

genre: martial arts, action

Normally I am not that demanding when it comes to ninja's. Ninja's are cool! Anyone who disagrees with that notion doesn't know anything. But apparently it is possible to have ninja's in a film and still be incredibly boring. 

I don't even know where to begin with this one but perhaps with one of the most mystifying elements in the film. The inner dialogue of Scott James (Chuck Norris). No rhyme or reason is given why they thought we would like to hear his inner thoughts. And if these thoughts would actually make events for compelling and exciting I wouldn't be complaining about it. It makes no sense whatsoever. But like in most of these types of films, our hero, is an expert in martial arts and dealing with ninja's. It's therefore inevitable for Scott not to get involved with terrorists who secretly have been trained by ninja's in ninja school. No, I am not joking. The school is run by Seikura (Tadashi Yamashita, most famous for his role as Black Star Ninja in American Ninja). And since the world is infinitely small, Seikura is the brother of Scott James, of course he is. 

The writing is sloppy. It's always so astonishing to me how writers can't even come up with a simple coherent story where you give Chuck Norris an excuse to beat up ninja's. Just have the ninja's do cool things in the vicinity of Scott and let them fight each other. That's what people want to see so why not give them that? Instead, you get a lot of nonsensical dialogue and exposition of things you have figured out after the first five minutes. A weak story I can forgive but minimal action in a martial arts film is unforgivable. And the little action that is present in the film is hardly memorable.

I always wondered why The Octagon wasn't on my radar. I think I have found out the answer. I have watched this one in my youth and then repressed my memory of it. Younger me was even less demanding than older me. So just imagine how bad this film is. Give this one a miss and go watch American Ninja who seems oddly familiar but is a much better film overall!

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