Hey gang, Valkor here. Ninjas – I don’t get enough ninja titles around, at least not as much as I'd like. And the ones that have arrived in the Val-cave have been hit or miss. Bottom of the barrel is Ninja Zombies followed by Ninja’s Creed with Mask of the Ninja and Ninja Assassin taking top honors. Well now we have Ninja Apocalypse to add to that list. But there’s something about it that seems awfully familiar…
In Ninja Apocalypse, we enter a post-apocalyptic world previously wrecked by what is known as "The Great War"; but from the ashes, inhabitants have reemerged and established themselves into clans. On top of it all, there are individuals who appear to have extraordinary abilities and have acquired ninja fighting skills. The major focus of the film centers on Cage (Christopher Oliver) and four members he personally selected from his group called “The Lost Clan” – Mar (Tara Macken), Sky (Isaac C. Singleton Jr.), Surge (Les Brandt) and Trillion (Kaiwi Lyman); they, along with other clan members from across the globe (or in the immediate area, who knows), have been summoned by Cage’s former master, now the Grandmaster of them all - Fumitaka (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa). The many different clans converge in a bunker area hundreds of feet below it. He gives a speech that the clans should all come together so that they may fight as one. Yup something big is about to go down and in order to overcome it, everyone must stand together in peace. But post-speech Fumitaka is killed with a ninja star to the dome, in which the act is immediately blamed on Cage. And now Cage and his team must attempt to escape from the depths below. Along the way they’ll come across a wide variety of ninja and other creatures who all wish to see The Lost Clan pay for their actions. Will the clan make it home and will they discover who was truly responsible for the assassination?
Watching Ninja Apocalypse, right when Fumitaka was making his big speech and just when he's killed, I realized why the film seemed so familiar – Yea, it’s The Warriors (classic 1979 film)! The Fumitaka speech, the fact that the Lost Clan try to make their way out of the bunker to home, hell there’s even a scene where the clan run into a bunch of Siren ninjas (all played by Antoinette Kalaj), who deduces the group and attemp to kill them - that's a scene straight from the Warriors! The film is very, VERY familiar indeed! Oh and Ernie Reyes Jr. makes an appearance as well; yea he still has the moves.
If we take away the fact that Ninja Apocalypse is essentially The Warriors... but with ninjas, you’ll see that it’s an entertaining film with loads of ninja fighting action, magic and eviscerations that make the viewing experience worthwhile and very enjoyable. The plot might be new to some, but to others you’ll be on familiar ground. Yet, given the fact that it takes from teh 79 classic and spins its own web, I have to say that it works quite well in this post-apocalyptic setting. The visuals, while low budget, still look good and there are some amazing special effects such as the glowing swords, some of the special moves (like Fumitaka pulling off a shadow style fast move or Cage’s electric ball) and the final lightsaber-esque battle, were all pretty impressive. The choreography on the fighting sequences mixed with the editing also deserves a positive nod as moves don't flow to fast or too slow – everything is just right. Next, the acting is pretty decent, though no real standouts – hell even a vet actor like Tagawa hammed it up just a bit. Oh and lest I forget, Antoinette Kalaj gets PerfectView nod times three – three for the triple role she plays as Siren. If she were the last person I was making out with before I was killed by a poisonous stab to the neck… I’d be ok with that!
OK, so there was supposed to be this big ninja war happening before we got into the whole hunt thing… And I’d much rather see that than a Warriors remake… with ninjas. Let me rephrase that because the film isn’t that bad, but I really wanted to see this big battle with all these super powered ninjas going at it as opposed to seeing ninjas hunt down another group of ninjas. Is there going to be a part 2? I kinda hope so! Also there are plenty of scenes, with dialogue that's rather... groan-worthy. For example when Surge and Cage are arguing and Cage says to Surge “The code is bigger than me! Bigger than us”, and everything before that, was just so over the top. Later Cage and Surge go at it again after getting duped even lower into the bunker, only this time it gets physical and they both use energy on one another. Trillion shouts out lines like “You’re killing each other! You’re killing us!” as opposed to actually breaking up the fight (Sky eventually breaks up the fight). Finally that lower bunker needed more stuff going on down there. I mean other than a variety of ninjas, you get zombies… and that’s pretty much it. Why no crazy traps or other strange creatures? Oh sure the weird ninjas kinda make up for it, but I expected much worse. I know, I know that budget, but still give me something other than zombies. I hate zombies!!
That one zombie who gets sliced in half with the ooze spilling out; and killing zombies in this film is pointless because the sliced off bits regenerate.
Ninja Apocalypse gets a wide release on Blu-Ray, DVD and On-Demand services on August 5th and I think it’s worth checking out as it’s an awesome blend of might meets magic. And while it lifts a lot from a classic film, it does enough to stand on its own. So out of TOV 5 stars, I’m giving Ninja Apocalypse a 3.5.