The Curator of Schlock #97 by Jeff Shuster

The Octagon

No more square dances in ninja movies! EVER.

If you read my last blog, I promised you a Sho Kosugi movie this week. That movie would have been Revenge of the Ninja since revenge movies are always welcome here at the Museum of Schlock. Unfortunately, my brand new Blu-ray special edition Revenge of the Ninja has gone missing. I found myself screaming, “You stay alive, no matter what occurs! I will find you. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you!”

So I’ve had to scramble and find an appropriate substitute. The Octagon is on Netflix. It has ninjas.

Octogon poster 2

The Octagon might be the worst movie I’ve ever had to review for this blog. I really didn’t go into this expecting the movie to be this bad. So let’s get the particulars out the way. The Octagon was released back in 1980 and has a cult status, most likely for being one of the first English language action films to feature ninjas. It stars Chuck Norris and Lee Van Cleef. I like Lee Van Cleef. He was in such classic westerns as For a Few Dollars More and Day of Anger. He even starred in the Master Ninja movies which were featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000. As for Chuck Norris…audible sigh…


I know that Chuck Norris is an expert martial artist. I know that he studied martial arts under Bruce Lee. He did not, however, study acting under Bruce Lee, or anyone else to prepare for his role of retired karate champion Scott James in The Octagon. This becomes painfully obvious each time Norris pauses mid-sentence. He does. This. Again. And. Again. And. Again.

He can’t remember his lines.

But, O Curator of Schlock, don’t most of the movies you review feature bad acting?

No, they do not! Lucio Fulci’s Zombie featured a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company in the lead role. Nothing will sink a movie faster than bad acting. That and a bad script. Schlock is supposed to be beautiful, people.

Octagon 3

I often point out when I lose the plot in the movies I review, but I think I lost the plot in The Octagon within the first ten minutes. I think the movie begins with Norris taking a ballet dancer home after a date, someone turns the lights in house off, she and her whole family get killed as Norris fumbles around in the dark. A disembodied voice says “Ninja” and I can’t figure out if this is Norris’s own thought or if he shares a psychic link with his brother who also happens to be an evil ninja. They’re estranged, mainly due to the fact that Norris beat his brother in some kind of obstacle course when they were kids and their father told him to disown him or something.

Octogoon 1

I guess his evil ninja brother grows up to run a ninja training camp. They’re a bunch of random mercenaries who show up to join the ninja clan. They’ve even got an Irish guy who gets in a tizzy when he finds out they don’t serve potatoes at the camp. Norris tries to investigate the mysterious ninja clan, but keeps running into people who are confused as to what he’s talking about. “Ninja? Is that some kind of new Japanese stereo?” And then Norris shows up at a square dance class. I don’t know why.

Octogoon 2

I’m sorry. Am I a testy today? I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that I just saw Terminator Genisys. Yeah, Skynet was going to use Ipads to destroy the world. I think they took someone’s Terminator fan fiction and turned it into a major motion picture. Until next week, folks.


Photo by Leslie Salas.

Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124, and episode 131) is an MFA candidate at the University of Central Florida.