Despite their omnipres­ence on ‘80s-era cable t.v. and at VHS rental out­lets, some of the clas­sic Cannon Films pro­duc­tions nev­er made it to DVD dur­ing that format’s hey­day. One of the most note­wor­thy omis­sions in this area was Ninja III: The Domination, an unfor­get­table action/horror gen­re-blender that picked up a cult fol­low­ing in the ear­ly days of home video. The only disc release it got since that era was a German blu-ray that came from a dupey-look­ing mas­ter and was by all accounts a mas­sive dis­ap­point­ment. Thankfully, this title has found an unex­pect­ed but wel­come sav­ior in Scream Factory — and they’ve sur­prised the film’s fans with a tidy lit­tle blu-ray/DVD com­bo set.

Both discs in the set show­case a new high-def­i­n­i­tion trans­fer that is gor­geous. Cannon’s in-house pro­duc­tions tend­ed to be nice­ly shot and this trans­fer reflects that qual­i­ty: the blu-ray is the best show­case for Hanania Baer’s slick and col­or­ful pho­tog­ra­phy, offer­ing a real boost in detail and clar­i­ty. As for the audio, the disc offers a loss­less pre­sen­ta­tion of the orig­i­nal stereo sound­track and the results are impres­sive: dia­logue and fight­ing foley effects come through nice and clear, plus the syn­th-heavy sound­track has a real pres­ence.

There are only two extras but both are worth­while. The first is an exten­sive image gallery packed with stills and a vari­ety of pro­mo­tion­al art from dif­fer­ent coun­tries. However, the biggest and best of the extras is a com­men­tary fea­tur­ing direc­tor Sam Firstenberg and stunt coör­di­na­tor Steve Lambert. Robert Galluzzo is on hand as mod­er­a­tor and acquits him­self well but Firstenberg and Lambert need lit­tle help to keep the track filled with details.

Firstenberg talks about all phas­es of pro­duc­tion, dis­cussing the moti­va­tion behind his choic­es as well as detailed info about dif­fer­ent sce­nes were shot (includ­ing one scene that used a rotat­ing room set) and how one achieved “the Cannon style” as film­mak­er. Lambert is no less impres­sive, offer­ing rig­or­ous­ly detailed accounts of each stunt scene, includ­ing the many places he dou­bled with­in the sce­nes (you’ll be amazed how much time he spent on cam­era in all the dif­fer­ent stunts). Both men are endear­ing­ly grate­ful about the film’s fol­low­ing and they dis­cuss their adven­tures in a hum­ble but enthu­si­as­tic way that makes for com­pelling lis­ten­ing.

In short, get­ting Ninja III: The Domination in a good-look­ing edi­tion is treat enough… but get­ting it in a blu-ray/DVD com­bo with a com­men­tary track real­ly takes it to the next lev­el. Snap it up as soon as you can — and may­be we’ll be lucky enough to get more rare Cannon gems from Shout! Factory in the future (Avenging Force would be Schlockmania’s pick, if anyone’s lis­ten­ing).

To read Schlockmania’s film review of Ninja III: The Domination, click here.