Posts Tagged ‘ The 90’s ’

LETHAL NINJA

I like to consider myself a budding connoisseur of the late 80’s early 90’s ninja film.

Having seen my fair share of films from the era, I feel that I’ve had enough experience with that genre to present a fairly qualified critical viewpoint. Having seen the entirety of the American Ninja series, Revenge of the Ninja, Ninja 3: The Domination, Enter the Ninja, Gymkata, the more modern Ninja Assasin, and all of the films in the Three Ninjas franchise.

The thing about all of these films, is that for the most part they’re all borderline incompetent, but in a good way. Cause in the 80’s all you needed to make a ninja movie was a crappy plot, enough money for a few explosions, and a bunch of black leotards.

Which brings us to Lethal Ninja, a 1993 entry into the ninja-sploitation genre.

The movie takes place in Africa,you know a place where there are generally tons of ninjas, we start off by watching some blond lady working at a science lab, analyzing some water samples. There’s some beakers and test tubes ad everyone has lab coats and they’re talking about ho the water in the area has gone bad.

Then all of the sudden some ninjas show up, just popping out of nowhere, kill everyone but the blond lady, who they kidnap. They then promptly shoot rockets at the tent full of science stuff, it explodes.

We soon meet the hero of the story JOE. He’s teaching some meditation in San Fransisco. Some government looking dudes show up to give Joe the bad news. He finds out the blond lady, who it turns out was his wife, has been kidnapped; and so he decides to go to Africa to go get her.

But not before he decides that he’s gonna need the help of his black friend from black buddy from back in the day, who kinda reminds me of Eddie Murphy. He picks him up at a dojo, and they go to Africa, armed with some crossbows and guns and stuff, not really anything particularly ninja-esque.

They get into Africa under the excuse of it being a hunting expedition, and check into a decent hotel, which just happens to be the very same hotel run by the bad guy of the movie, and also conveniently enough the very same hotel in which the blond scientist lady is being held captive! There’s two main bad guys, one is the old guy who has something to do with the government or an evil corporation or something, and the sleazy younger guy, who also might have something to do with the government or an evil corporation or something. I don’t really remember the motivations beyond the fact that someone was dumping all sorts of toxic waste into the water supply in this small African nation, and some other people were paying some people off to let it happen. Possibly, I’m pretty sure it was something like that.

Our heroes decide to take a night on the town, while they look for some contact of theirs that’s got the lowdown on the local situation, there’s a rather long scene of this chick signing, it’s a crappy filler scene,the chick is in too much of the movie, she’s like the younger bad guy’s girlfriend or something. Then the bad guys harass some government officials, and then the heroes get in a small bar fight, then they run into their contact who tells them to meet him the next day.

There’s a few scenes of the blond chick being stuck in a swank hotel with the sleazy younger bad dude, trying to hit on her, and or persuade her to join his cause/team/side on the toxic waste issue, I think he just wants a new girl. She’s like “aaawww hell naw, my man will save me”.

The heroes meet their contact, who tells them that they have to meet up with other dude, and for some reason they’ve gotta do this at what happens to be a random carnival, they find the guy on a carousel that ominously starts up on its own to reveal that the guy who they were supposed to meet has be murder killed to death with a knife.

Then it turns out that someone has put bombs on their cars!

The contact guy gets exploded, but the heroes survive.

The go to the site of the science tent massacre that took place in the first scene, and then drive up to this old abandoned, factory/mill place and end up finally fighting some ninjas. In Africa. With No Asian People In Sight. That was really one of the best things about the late 80’s and early 90’s, it didn’t matter if ninjas made sense, people liked them, and so they showed up in movies. The thing is at this point in the movie the heroes haven’t done anything ninja related either, they go into this fight with guns and a crossbow with explosive tipped arrows.

You get ninjas jumping outta trees, different colored ninjas falling off buildings, ninjas hiding in the shadows, and then some ninjas jumping out at Joe with swords.After he defeats them in clumsily choreographed combat, there’s a quick rip off of an iconic scene from Raiders of The Lost Ark. This one ninja jumps outta nowhere with some nunchucks, swings them about all threatening-like, and then just gets shot in the chest by Joe, which makes you wonder why he didn’t just shoot the other few ninjas, they were clearly inept after all.

After a small car chase they intrepid duo heads bad to the hotel for some rest, they discover some sort of plant near the hotel, and they begin to put the pieces of the plot together.

After a few boring scenes Joe finally dresses up in black like a ninja and heads off for the films best scene. He sneaks into what appears to be a roller rink. He sneaks into the place, all the lights are off and it’s almost mysterious, but then the lights turn on and he’s surrounded by ninjas.

Surrounded by ninjas on roller skates.

Yeah, roller skates, not even roller blades, which were still kinda cool back in the 90’s, but just plain old roller skates. And then all of the sudden they’re not just plain old roller skates, knives pop outta the sides! It’s like they’re Swiss army skates of death.

Then all the ninjas begin to skate around menacingly. The attack Joe one at a time, and he manages to takeout a few through his brand of poor mans kung fu. The scene ends when he throws his sword at the lights to make his quick escape, leaving the viewer to wonder why the ninjas had skates in the first place, and what this scene had to do with anything. I’m pretty sure the writers of the film were tasked with coming up with something involving ninjas that nobody had seen before, and the best they could do was ninjas on skates. I mean it is amazing and all, but it doesn’t really fit into the context of the film very well, what with it being a movie about kidnapping, pollution, and Africa.

Speaking of which, the next part has Joe and his buddy sneaking into the pollution plant under the cover of night. I’m pretty sure that the plant consists mostly of some water slides that they put some foliage around, and tried to make look more industrial.

The black dude is gets trapped in one of the big pipes, and almost gets killed by toxic waste, but in doing so he figures out the bad guys evil plot. Which is cool cause it makes almost care, but not really.

The Old dude bad guy shows up, this time with a monocle, and he’s got ninjas with machine guns, so the good guys get captured. Then they get tortured a bit, then they get freed by the bad dudes girl friend, the annoying one who sang too much in he filler scene earlier, cause she’s tired of the bad guy being a dick and always trying to hit on the blond scientist lady.

They then run around for a bit looking for blond scientist lady until they find her, the old guy bad guy gets killed and then everyone is reunited. Yay, but we still gotta take care of the other bad guy, cause he’s a dick.

Turns out he’s at that old factory place from earlier in the movie that we first encountered the ninjas at, also turns out that that’s a mine. So the bad dude makes his way to the top of a large tower for a dramatic and exciting showdown with our heroes. Wait make that hero, cause right when they get to the bottom of the big tower, the black dude, whose name I just remembered was PETER, just all of the sudden decides he doesn’t care about getting the bad guy anymore.

At the top of the tower Joe fights some more ninjas, who I guess were just waiting up there. The thing is, this is the last few minutes of the movie, and the final ninja related scene, and it’s also the most comically inept. The fight is slow, and it really looks like the actors were having a hard time trying to look even remotest bit convincing.

Just when you think that Joe and the bad guy are actually gonna fight, this one ninja sneaks up behind Joe. So Joe rolls outta the way a little bit, and makes the ninja accidentally stab his boss, who then gets hit off the top of the tower. It’s a bit anticlimactic if you’re looking for anything resembling competence.

So that’s pretty much Lethal Ninja.

Compared to quality films it doesn’t hold up very well, but when compared to other low budget action films, well you could still do quite a bit better.

But for the ninja enthusiast, who doesn’t mind their ninja films having no real reason to have ninjas; well, you’ll probably be amused. There’s a number of unintentionally funny parts, and there’s even a few explosions, and as a whole the film entertains, just not because it’s cool or anything like that. The film entertains, cause you can just tell that the filmmakers weren’t trying very hard when they made it.

It’s a movie that you don’t have to respect, it doesn’t very hard, and you don’t have to put much effort into watching it.

Compared to other ninja films, I’d say it’s worse than American Ninja parts 1, 2,and 3, but at least on par with American Ninja 5.

Lethal Ninja is available on Netflix Instant Watch at the moment, but the cover art they have for it is for a totally different movie. You either watch it on Netflix or you find a VHS copy, cause it never got a DVD release.