Friday, June 13, 2014

Two Syllables - Nin-Ja

I didn't feel like writing anything today, so I dug up an old story I wrote with a co worker back in 2007.  We had bonded over a mutual love of the terrible action movies of the 80s and 90s and their stars, like Steven Seagal, Jean-Claude Van Damme and others.  

So, we began sending these emails back and forth.  I think our original intent was to make a comic book, so some of the earlier ones have a script format, while some of the later ones are less so.  Anyway, I did a little editing, but not a lot.  Hopefully you enjoy, I think it ended up all together being around 4500 words.

Opening scene

A heavy rain on an inner city street.  A single set of headlights as a lone car races through.

Caption: Rain was once thought to be a cleansing experience.

A dark alley seen from above.  It is filled with junk and covered in trash. Water rushes by in small rivers filled with it.  two groups of gangsters wearing colors on their leather jackets and looking nervous.  A drug deal is going down.

caption: The true filth of this place won't be washed away so easily.

Closeup the alley.

Two of the gangsters are talking.  One has an aluminum briefcase.  The other has a mohawk and seems agitated.  The others nervously watch the area and caress the guns inside their jackets.

A stroke of lightning with the associated thunder clap.

In the alley the nervous gangsters panic and draw their guns.  One bumps into and knocks over a steel trashcan revealing an alley cat that hisses and races away.  One of the more jumpy of the gangsters fires off a few shots in it's direction.

After the commotion the gangsters nervously laugh off their paranoia and some begin reholstering their guns when a white dog appears from the darkness.

The nervous laughter intensifies and the previous shooter is mocked and asked if he's gonna shoot the dog too.  He turns to reply "Hey screw you guys!"

But he is cut off as two shuriken appear in his head and neck.  The others react with shock as their laughter dies on their lips.

The sound of him hitting the ground with a splash is punctuated with a deep growling.  The dog jumps mohawk.  Mohawk gets his arm up in time to protect his neck but goes down screaming.

The others move to grab the dog, but that's when...

Splash image:  Ninja with katana raised and framed by falling rain descends from above.

In a short, silent, and bloody series of strikes.  The other gangsters are cut down.  As the last one splashes to the ground.  We get a shot of the ninja standing in a ready battle stance surrounded by their bodies.  A mixture of rain and blood pours from the tip of his blade.

Meanwhile the dog still has mohawk pinned, but mohawk has ceased to even notice as his attention is now on the deadly ninja.
Mohawk:  Wh..Who?!  What are you?!

The Ninja turns, scoops up the briefcase, and calls off the dog.  Before moving to leave the alley.

Mohawk cradling his savaged and bleeding arm climbs to his knees and yells at the departing ninja.
Mohawk:  Yo!  Pajama man, you can't take that!

The ninja stops and cocks his head.  The dog looks up at him.
Mohawk:  Yeah that's right!  My boss ain't gonna like it none if he don't get the goods in that suitcase pajama man.

Mohawk is starting to climb to his feet.  His good arm is grabbing the pistol in his jacket as he continues yelling.
Mohawk: So, why don't you just leave that suitcase here like a good little boy and..

Mohawk's words are cut off by the shuriken that pincushion his body.  Notably his good arm and  the hand that holds his pistol.

The ninja is crouched and facing Mohawk.  His arm still outstretched from flinging the deadly throwing stars.  His head is bowed but it raises with his voice as he speaks for the first time.

Ninja:  I.  Am. NINJA!  

As Mohawk collapses back to his knees.  The ninja sheaths his katana and begins to leave for the last time.

Ninja:  Tell your boss, should you survive, that searching for me will be like searching for the moon and stars.  I am always there watching and just out of reach.  Tell him this and tell him that it has not ended tonight.  It has only begun.


Part two:

Two men in suits and ties move down a spartan hallway.  One is a large man with porkchop sideburns.   He wears gold rimmed aviator glasses.  The other is thin with immaculate slicked black hair and a pencil thin mustache.

Sideburns: What the hell happened, fool?  The Boss man ain't gonna be happy to hear this for sure.

Mustache: Certainly not.  I fear our trust in this riff raff was, sadly, misplaced.

They reach the end of the hallway and approach a set of double doors with two large men armed with uzi submachine guns guarding it.

Sideburns: Yo, the Boss sent for us.

Guard with a scowl: He was expecting you 10 minutes ago.

The dude with the sideburns glances meaningfully at his mustached partner and they enter together.

Interior: This is a large office probably in a warehouse or other low rent industrial site.  Several men are in here.  On the desk in the center of the room is the man with the Mohawk.  He is covered in blood while some of the men attend to his wounds.  The rest of the men are in suits and armed.

Closeup of a nearby table with the bloody shuriken recently removed from Mohawk on it.

One of the men attending to mohawk.  He looks tired.

Doctor: That's it.  He's done.

The doctor closes Mohawk's eyes and covers his face with his jacket.

The doctors leave the room.

One of the men in suits, a fat man with his back turned to the desk, his face unseen up to this point is the center of attention as silence descends on the room after they leave.

Fat man: Samuel, Jean, so nice of you two to stop by.

Samuel and Jean are suddenly the center of attention and shift uncomfortably like two school kids in the principals office.
Samuel:- Listen man, these guys were the toughest gang on the Lower East Side.  Whoever did this has to be pretty high profile.  We'll find his ass, fill it full of holes, and get your stuff back no problem boss.

Jean:-My partner is as eloquent as always.  We will ensure that a message is sent no?  The boss is not to be crossed on his own turf in this manner.  This is what we do boss.  You have my word on this.

Fat man still facing away:- Silence you worms.  While we waited for you to arrive I had the boys ask him a few questions.

The boss pauses meaningfully and turns his head enough you can see his smile:-  The hard way.

A shot of the jacket covered body on the desk with the boss flanked by his bodyguards.

Boss: - All we could get out of him is that a lone man attacked them with a white dog.  He claimed it was a ninja.

The boss turns around and approaches the desk.  His face is hidden by shadow due to the strong light source hanging over the desk.  He motions at the stars nearby.

Boss: - I want the those bloody interlopers over at the wharf to know that crossing me was the wrong move.  All I want to read in the paper is that the cops are up to their ears in dead yakuza.

The boss is visibly agitated.

Boss: And Samuel, Jean.  Bring me back my suitcase.

Samuel and Jean nod and leave quickly.

Exterior: Samuel and Jean get into Jean's tricked out muscle car.

Samuel: Shit, Jean.  How we supposed to find some damn ninja?  Ain’t they supposed to be hard to find?

Jean starts the car.  - Even the fabled ninjas can bleed no?

Exterior: On a nearby rooftop the ninja watches.  Down below Jean's car races out of view.



part three

Skyline.  Full of skyscrapers against a sunset.  The industrial smog tints even this an ominous grey.  Storm clouds still hang heavy in the sky.

Interior - a lavish penthouse office, with a definite japanese style.  Large samurai statues.  The floor has a large asian dragon fighting a tiger worked in marble tile on it.

closeup of the large desk.  Seated at the desk is Yakuza boss of bosses Tony "Demon Wind" Kojiro.   He is an aging japanese man, still whip thin and he is not happy.

Demon Wind - I will not tolerate this!   How many dead?  How much money and drugs has the Boss cost us?  We have kept the peace for 10 years.   Stayed to the wharf and ignored his pissant operation!  Now he attacks us!   The Yakuza will NOT tolerate this disrespect!

Five japanese men all wearing expensive suits, a few with colorful tattoos showing from under their collars and cuffs rise and yell - They will pay for this!   My life and the life of my men are yours Demon Wind!

Cut exterior The docks at night.

An old cargo ship.  The area around it is full of large freight containers.  Even at this hour there is a great deal of activity.   A group of black cadillacs pull up and The Boss's men pile out armed to the teeth. They open fire.  Yakuza resistance appears and a massive gun battle rages.  There are explosions and people dying left and right.

Samuel and Jean arrive in Jean's car. Samuel and Jean join in the fight right away. Sam uses twin desert eagles. He is deadly accurate with both.  Jean has an Ak 47, and he uses it's full auto to devastating effect.

The Yakuza are in full retreat now.  They are running for their lives.   The Boss's men begin to grab their wounded and dead and split before the cops show up.  Jean and Samuel are about to do so as well when...

Samuel spots a white dog!

Samuel:- Jean! Yo!  It's that mutt the Boss was talking about.

Samuel is in full pursuit both guns drawn.  Jean takes enough time to reload.

Jean -  Everyone! Follow that dog!

A few of the still hanging around men follow Jean. Samuel is moving amongst the maze of crates, barrels and flotsam that cover the wharf.

He's calling "Here doggy, doggy, doggy.  Nice doggy"  If he does catch of glimpse of it, he shoots.

Jean and the 4 or 5 guys with him follow the sound of Samuel's gunfire.

The one in the rear stops out of breath.  He never notices the ninja dropping down from above, and in the seconds he's alive after his neck is broken, he is altogether unaware how badass it is that a ninja just ended him.

The next one to go hears a suspicious sound, and goes alone to investigate.  From the shadow, a vicious karate chop to the throat, and he quietly gurgles as he tries to breathe through a crushed trachea.  

The last two hang close to Jean.  The three of them are extremely tired of chasing Samuel, and Jean has been lugging an Assault Rifle.  Heavily sweating and gasping for air they round a corner in time for the white dog to leap out at them barking loudly.

It startles them so much they nearly trip over each other.   The dog hunches down and growls threateningly at them as it backs away.

Jean -  Don't shoot,  don't shoot it yet.

He motions and the other 2 begin circling around the dog.   Jean sets his gun down, and begins trying to coax the snarling animal to him.  Everytime he gets close the dog snaps at him.

Suddenly a bleeding, lacerated Samuel rounds a corner into the area.  As he limps into the clearing the dog makes his escape.

Samuel collapses into Jeans arms.  The two goons have their guns at the ready.

Samuel - He was... was a motherfucking ninja...  A motherfucking ninja on the these motherfucking docks.

Samuel dies.

Jean in a whisper - my friend.

Jean stands and reaches into his coat.  He pulls out a revolver.

Jean yelling - Come Out!  Face us!  Face us Ninja!

When he yells ninja, the two goons stare at each other.

There is a small pop and a cloud of smoke fills the area where Jean and the two goons stand. Seconds later when the smoke clears the Ninja stands there.

Que Badass fight music.

This isn't the fight in the alley.  These aren't gangsters.  They're the toughest heavies the Boss has with one of his best lieutenants, who is fighting mad over the death of his friend.  Jean is also a top notch kickboxer. Obviously the ninja kicks all their asses but there is some serious, over the top ass kicking going on.  The ninja has to do backflips and show that he earned that ninja suit basically. And he takes some hits, even bleeding as Jean predicted.

Finally with the two goons eviscerated and Jean beaten but still alive and lying at his feet.

The Ninja - You were a worthy opponent.

Jean - Why...the Yaks...why?

The ninja - The yakuza must pay for their crimes as well.

Jean - Not a yakuza ::coughs up blood:: You're not a Yakuza?

The ninja pauses and stares at Jean.  He removes his mask revealing that he is not Asian.

Jean laughs -  Go hump your dog.

The ninja face contorted in rage and he cuts off Jean's head in one strike.

Helicopter shot of the carnage at the docks.  Police are on scene and the Ninja and his dog are gone.


Scene 4

Bird's eye view.  High rise exit.  there is a canopy leading to a red carpet.  The Boss and his escort are getting into a Limo.  Security is heavy.  The president would be jealous.

Interior the Limo.  The boss's escort is giggling her empty head off at something the Boss said.
Also in the limo is a italian/spanish looking fellow.  He is seated across from the Boss.
Closeup of the other guy.

Other guy says - ...they were two of your best.  Whoever did this is no amateur.   10 million and I will recover what was lost to you.

The Boss has his hand on the escort's knee and is leaning forward now despite his bulk.

The Boss says - 20 million if you bring him to me alive.  Along with his filthy mutt.

Other guy smiles a suave smile, and winks at the escort.  She giggles and smiles at him.

Other guy - You will hear from me soon.

The Limo stops and Other guy exits.

Exterior Helicopter shot of a high rise penthouse restaurant.  It is night.  

Interior The maitre'd nervously greets the Boss and his date.  They are shown to a window seat.

Exterior a neighboring high rise.   The ninja watches the Boss and his date being seated.  They are laughing., the Ninja is not.

Interior of the kitchen.  10 masked men hold the kitchen hostage with automatic weapons. One of them announces that the Boss is here finally.

Interior the dining area.  The service doors burst open as the masked men charge in waving their guns.  The Boss's guards parked by the entrance are gunned down.  There is a lot of screaming as the customers hit the ground.  Several of the masked men move towards the Boss.  It looks like an execution is about to take place.

The Boss grabs his date and uses her like a human shield while he grabs his pistol.  He realizes he won't draw it fast enough and pushes his date at the gunmen as he dives behind his table.  The gunmen unleash a hail of bullets riddling the escort and while not shattering the window, putting a shitload of holes in it.

Exterior the bullet riddled window.   In the broken reflection we see THE NINJA swinging through the air towards the window!

Interior the ninja crashes through the window and flies through the air doing a somersault before landing on a nearby table.  He immediately fires a few stars at one of the gunmen, who goes down screaming.

One of the others begins firing again and starts to spray the bullets towards the ninja.  The ninja with superhuman strength and agility leaps in the air and lands behind the gunman drawing his katana in the process.

An overhead slash and a spray of blood drops the second gunmen.  A third gets too close and a quick reversal and upward swing leave him holding his intestines in his hands.  

Two of them now have a bead on him and open fire right at him.  The ninja drops one of his smoke bombs and the bullets whiz right through and tear through the restaurant.  People are screaming as tables, walls, and customers are mowed down.  

The shooting stops and crying can be heard.   The gunmen are frantically looking around for the ninja's body.  Suddenly one of them finds something.  It is a small homemade bomb.  It has a fuse.  It is lit.

Reaction shot then BOOM

3 more gunmen who had been in the area are down.  The remaining men are spread out now and one shouts to check on the Boss.

2 move cautiously towards the broken window and the overturned table.  The ninja swings down from above upside down (he's hanging by his legs)  And stabs both men in the face with daggers.

He flips down to his feet and charges a nearby gunmen.  The other two open fire, but the trail just behind him as the ninja passes by the gunmen he slashes.  The bullets of the other two then rip through his corpse before it can reach the ground.  The ninja does a backflip off a near by table and lands behind a support column.  The last 2 gunmen empty their clips into it.  As they are franticly reloading the Boss, looking disheveled, emerges from the wreckage of his table and fires his hand cannon killing them both.

The Boss turns his gun on the column, ready for a final showdown with the ninja, in time to hear the elevator chime.  2 squads of the Boss’s men pour out and quickly secure the area.  The ninja is gone.  On the column is a note which is brought to the Boss by one of his men.

It says = If you want your suitcase back; come to the downtown cathedral Tomorrow night 11pm.  Come alone.

The Boss crumples the note in his hand and curses the Yakuza.

One of his men examining the bodies of the slain gunmen, shouts that it's a Yakuza.

The Boss rushes over to see the elaborate tattoo covering the man's back.  His face clearly asian.

End scene.


Scene 5

A TV screen.  It's the local news live on location at the penthouse restaurant. Reporting on the event recently dubbed "Murder on the Menu"

Karen Annapolis reporting.  She interviews a few eye witnesses who describe an assault led by a masked man with a sword.  They punctuate their statements with "Oh my god. It was so terrible" or “I’ve never been so frightened!”  One or two mention the man who appeared at the last minute to shoot the last two.  She speculates in her closing statements that this was a hit on a high ranking Crime Lord gone wrong.

Cut to Interior of TV station.  The editing room.  Karen Annapolis is ejecting the tape of her finished story when her editor walks in.  He's a huge sleaze and a lot older than her. He immediately begins hitting on her.  She is obviously disgusted, but unfortunately used to it and brushes him off with a cutting remark.  (I'm a little too tired for writing dialogue right now)

He informs her that her tape won't be aired.  She demands to know why he's been constantly blocking her story on the Boss and the mafia.  He gets a little scary, and tells her that defenseless girls shouldn't be sticking their nose where it doesn't belong.  She leaves in a huff.  But, is forced to leave the tape with her editor.  

Outside the TV studio.  An Action 4 News van.  Karen's crew, well, less of a crew and more just the one guy who drives and holds the camera, Fred, the tall, skinny, awkward loser who pines for her, but is too hopeless to ever hook up with our beautiful investigative journalist, is loading equipment into the van.  Karen is dejected over losing her story.  Fred attempts to console her, but fumbles his words and it comes off more sad and pathetic than anything.


The scene with Karen and Fred needs a little more fleshing out but I'm skipping ahead to the next scene.

Karen Annapolis, Action 5 Investigative Journalist, is in deep trouble.
Desperate to break what she feels is the story of the decade and receiving an offer for a meeting from a source she's been working on for quite some time, Karen heads out to a warehouse on the docks after dark.  She throws caution to the wind and goes alone taking with her only a tape recorder and a cell phone for emergencies.

Exterior: the warehouse district of the docks at night.  It's unnaturally quiet.   Karen's car pulls up and she gets out.  She then heads inside.

Interior: We see Karen's silhouette in the doorway of the warehouse office.  She calls out into the darkness nervously, "Hello?  Is anyone here?"
Suddenly a hand clamps over her mouth from behind and pulls her into the shadows.  Karen's desperate scream is muffled by her unknown assailants hand.  Panic and terror are clear in the closeup of her eyes.  

"Shh!" It was a hoarse whisper from a scruffy looking jerk in tattered clothes.  "It's me Karen,"  The man looks nervously off into the shadows  as if he's being followed.  "I'm going to take my hand off your mouth, but be quiet, okay?"  He slowly removes his hand and waits for Karen to calm down before he relaxes his grip on her.  "Look I'm sorry about grabbing you like that,"  the man apologizes.  "But, I don't want any unwanted attention."  He is visibly sweating.  

 Karen has one hand over her heart as she listens, "Don't ever scare me like that again, Jake!"  She hisses in a semi whisper.  

He visibly flinches and apologizes again, "I'm really sorry, but you keep saying that we have to stop these guys.  I'm just really scared one of them is going to finger me as a snitch then it's not just me that's going to die, it's my family and everyone I've ever known."

Karen reaches into her pocket and produces the tape recorder.   She holds it out towards Jake and pushes the record button. Then she says, " Okay so tell me what you heard that's worth risking both our lives for today."

End scene.


A locker room.
A lone cop is standing by an open locker.  He's mid thirties and looks sad and tired.  This is veteran homicide lieutenant Dave Peterson.  Inside his locker is a polaroid picture of his wife and son.  He's looking at it and a brief smile crosses his face as another cop walks up.

The second cop is a big guy.  Old age has made him pudgy, but he used to be fit.  This is Sergeant Tony DiTorrelli, Dave’s long time partner.
Big Tony -"Man, she was some looker huh?  And that boy of yours, how old would he be now?  15? 16?"

Dave’s face collapses and he puts the picture away and closes his locker. "What is it Big Tony?  Any leads on what's got the Boss's people so pissed at the Yakuza?

Big Tony spreads his arms as Dave gets his stuff and they head off, "You aint gonna believe this one partner."

Interior a small hotel room.  Police tape and forensics move throughout the room.  Dave and Tony arrive on the scene.  A body is covered on the bed.

Dave to another officer in uniform "Alright what are we looking at here?"

Street Cop "Deceased's name's Jake Vandergriff according to the Driver's License."

Big Tony has pulled back the sheets to look at the body. "Ow man, someone didn't like this guy."

Street Cop "We got an anonymous tip.  Time of death is less than 4 hours.  He took longer then that to die I'd guess."

Dave  "Tortured?"

Big Tony lifts the sheet a little higher.  "Oh they didn't have to cut that off. That's just sick."

Dave  "Anything else?"

Street Cop hold up a plastic evidence bag.  Inside is a ninja star.  "We found this covered in the deceased's blood also."

End scene.

It just wouldn't be a vigilante story without the cops after his ass too!


Clouds.  Heavy, dark, and oppressive.  The storms have returned to Baytown.  Wind whips through the streets leading to…

 City hall

A crowd gathers at the steps. Video crews and the general press is pressed in for a big announcement from the mayor. A podium has been set up and bristles with microphones.
Several men hold open umbrellas and the sky threatens to drown them all.

The mayor and his staff exit the doors of City Hall and the wind gusts mightily nearly blowing the mayor's toupée off.  Ties and jacket tails are at the mercy of the unholy breeze.   The mayor makes his way to the podium and prepares to speak.  There is heavy feedback at first then he settles into his speech.

"I know many of you here today, and our fine citizens at home, have been hearing about the crime problem here in our great city.  Let me assure you that today we believe we have found public enemy number one!"  His voice rises over the heavy wind.  He gestures for the chief of police to join him and continues.  "With the help of our top notch police force we today are issuing an ultimatum to the scum who would drive our city, our home, into ruin.  We are launching the largest manhunt in the history of Baytown for the one known only as the Ninja.  All citizens are advised to avoid contact with this man and if you have any information about the group lead by this masked villain known as the ninja, or the ninja himself please call our special hotline.  …”

Lighting and Thunder dance across the sky.

Interior the police station.

Dave Peterson and Big Tony are sitting at their desks while the mayor drones on a nearby TV.  .

Big Tony, "Fucking Blow hard.  If someone hadn't leaked the whole ninja angle to the papers he wouldn't be up there milking this for all it's worth right now."  He rubs his temples.  "We'll be up to our necks in overtime just on the bogus tips off this damned hotline of his."

Dave, "Look Tony I know you and the mayor have had your differences but that doesn't change the fact that we're still police officers.  You saw what happened to our victim. Who ever this ninja character is Tony, we've got a duty to catch him and bring him to justice."

Big Tony, "Yeah..." Tony looks away from Dave at the mayor who is mugging for the cameras with the police chief. "Justice."

The heavens weep.

End scene.

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