Electric Boogaloo? Lee Van Cleef again? Shows 3 and 4 make up this mix. David McCallum, George Lazenby, Jennifer Runyon, Monte Markam. Union Negotiations? Terrorists? It’s all in a day’s work. Bikers, Shovel Fighting, Epilogue, Lee’s Gut. These are the episodes of The Master. Improv, The Conveyor Belt Buffet, Gerbilsphere 2, Custom Vans, General Timothy Van Patten, The Pets of Detectives and Crimefighters, A Lee Van Cleef Dress-Up Doll. “Oh it’s a Lee Van Cliffhanger”, “Ahh Timothy Van Patten… The Great Dutch Ninja”, “I stopped for a Heath Bar. Want a bite?” “Is this a karate movie?” or “Master Ninja… Will you ever learn?”
It’s like there’s a whole new set of villains that pop up halfway through.
I can’t help but wonder how many people watch this now and have some variation of “but that’s not James Bond.”
We’re halfway through this one and have decided we need to pick up The Master on DVD. It’s a fun show.
Note: Master Ninja II (1984) is a 90 minute combination of Episodes 3 and 4 from the cancelled television series The Master.
As a fan of Wings, I enjoyed seeing Crystal Bernard in a younger role.
The improv and gerbilsphere 2 are some of my favourite host segments, especially as Gerbilsphere 2 ends up being absolutely full of flaws and problems.
Also I really like the movie. It’s staggeringly rare to see a depiction of unions in America that isn’t immediately and inextricably linked to organised crime, it’s very refreshing to set a union that will actually help it’s members. The smash cut to the helicopter rescue is peak “stitching two episodes together” movie making, on a par with the “more elusive than Robert Denby” ADR from Riding with Death.
An excellent episode, and a fun way to intro new people to the show, especially after you point out what Van Patten would go on to make.
More A-Team-esque ninja hijinks starring Lee Van Cleef and Timothy Van Patten in two unconnected TV episodes masquerading as a movie. The first half involves them riding into a town where the workers at the local cannery are trying to form a union. While antagonists in 1980s action shows weren’t known for in-depth characterization, the villainous cannery owner is so cartoonish in his evil that Snidely Whiplash is subtle and nuanced in comparison.
Speaking of absurd, consider the scene where our Master Ninja practices lowering his heart rate and his pupil mistakenly thinks he’s dead and “administers” CPR. While movies and television almost never depict the procedure in an accurate fashion, rarely is it done so wrong. The way he goes about it, you’d think he was trying to shatter the guy’s sternum. You can even hear the thumps on the Resusci-Annie being used.
One aspect that does pass muster is when they break into the cannery office to obtain evidence of the owner’s skullduggery. Now you might think it would be useless since said evidence would have been illegally obtained, and therefore inadmissible in court. However, the 1921 Supreme Court case of Burdeau v. McDowell ruled in a 7-2 decision that this only applies to agents of the government. If the illegal seizure is done by a private individual on their own initiative before handing over the goods to the police, it can be used. Mind you, that person can then be tried for breaking and entering. But if you’re taking the long walk to Old Sparky, that will be a cold comfort.
The big disconnect in the second half involves the afternoon garden party, which inexplicably is a black-tie affair. The obvious reason for this is that the guest star of this half is George Lazenby, AKA the one-shot James Bond. So they needed an excuse for him to wear a tuxedo, however strained. It also has David McCallum of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. to round out the Sixties spies.
Okay, THIS is the one with the General Timothy Van Patten host segment!
I dig this one, although not anywhere near as much as the first episode. Part of that is because of the second half of the episode. I absolutely love the first half with the cannery shenanigans. It’s fun seeing Crystal Bernard from Wings get riffed on here (Carrie: “I know that this must sound real crazy to y’all…” Joel: “… but I eat light bulbs.”). This one really has that distinctive TV show feel and flavor of Master Ninja I.
The second half, though… I’ll just come right out and say it, I’m not really a fan of hostage crisis narratives, in film, in TV shows, whatever. The second half feels more tense and meaner as a part of the movie, if that makes sense. That, and the second half doesn’t feature as much Max and John doing their thing; they feel like minor supporting characters in their own show or “movie.” My favorite thing about those episodes is when they bust on Max’s trademark way of speaking and John’s ridiculous ninja antics. When you take them out of the equation for extended periods of time, you wanna see them onscreen so that the gang is at their best and has plenty to riff on.
Still, what they DO haul out against David McCallum and George Lazenby is something fun (Crow: “I used to be Bond. James Bond. Now I’m in movies. Bad movies”). And I dig seeing Sho Kosugi play a part in this story.
I don’t mean for that to sound anywhere as negative as it does. But between the two episodes, I’d have to go with the first one by a country mile, although the second one does have its charm. I mean, that first story in Master Ninja II is freaking fantastic and excellent riff fodder!
Oh, and that TV crimefighters and their pets host segment? [chef’s kiss]
Without Master Ninja Theme Song, it can never be as good as the first.
I forgot to mention this in my write-up, but even in Star Force: Fugitive Alien II, you had those reprises of the forklift song represented there.
I would’ve loved to hear Master Ninja Theme Song over the end credits again or anywhere else, but… heh, I guess that wasn’t in the cards.