Not a good example of the genre

by Nav Qateel

Set after an all-out nuclear war devastated the Earth, Ninja Apocalypse tells the story of the survivors who have become Ninjas and formed up into warring factions. They have also gained mutant powers, helping each of them look cool while fighting. After learning an enemy is about to attack their lands, Grandmaster Fumitaka calls for a truce, so that the heads of the five clans can meet at his underground facility to discuss them joining together in a peaceful alliance. During the get-together, Fumitaka is murdered and several witnesses swear Lost Ninja Clan leader Cage performed the nasty deed. The Lost Clan must battle their way out of the facility while trying to prove Cage’s innocence. As well as having to fight the other four clans, who are now convinced of their guilt, the Lost Clan must also face slow-moving zombies while they try to make their escape.

Using stock news footage, Ninja Apocalypse opens with us learning a world war has just been declared, ending with us seeing a mushroom cloud. We then cut to a barren but beautiful landscape with text informing us “Years After The Great War,” establishing the post-apocalyptic setting. So far, so good, but it’s only 62 seconds into the film, and from here it only goes downhill. Perhaps it would be prudent of me to point out I’m the wrong demographic for a movie like Ninja Apocalypse, but I didn’t realise this until 15 minutes into the film. I watched the movie based solely on the cool-looking trailer, as no doubt most folk will do. Unfortunately, much of what was presented was reminiscent of that kids franchise Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, only this had slightly better effects and lots of digital bloodshed.

Ninja Apocalypse
Directed by
Lloyd Lee Barnett
Christian Oliver, Les Brandt, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa
Release Date
5 August 2014
Nav’s Grade: D+

Fumitaka sends out scrolls to the five clans, where he orders the leaders to pick four of their best warriors to accompany them to the gathering. When the easy-to-find “Lost” Clan are found, their leader Cage gathers them together and then walks along their ranks to pick out four warriors that fit his requirements. Why the director had Cage go through this farce makes little sense because The Lost Clan appear to only consist of himself and the four he lined up to choose from! It was amusing watching Cage walk down the diminutive line of warriors, painstakingly making his selection of four of his finest warriors, out of, well… four warriors, then reaching the end and tapping a grim-faced Trillion on the shoulder, who replies with a proud-to-have-been-chosen nod.

When all the clans are finally together, Fumitaka gives a great speech about how they must join to defend against an imminent attack from some approaching army. Instead, the entire movie is about The Lost Clan trying to get out of the underground bunker. Fumitaka lives in this 100 storey deep facility, on sub-level 20. Zombies live at the bottom levels. Why? What do they eat? Why live in a facility like this? What we see of the outdoors looks pretty nice with no signs of radiation. I also find it very hard to believe a small group of people would fail to notice the real Cage not killing Fumitake while an imposter does?! There are plenty of examples where writer Ashley Scott Meyers didn’t appear to think things through, but if he had tightened the script up along with better direction from Barnett, it could have made the film more suitable for us grown ups.

Some of the characters had cool powers but a lot of what they could do wasn’t properly shown. For example, Isaac C. Singleton Jr’s character was a deaf mute (with laughable sign language skills) who could feel when enemies were approaching by touching the ground with one hand and holding his other hand up like an antenna. Instead of looking good, however, it simply looked childlike. The graphics were used well considering the small budget they had to play with, which is understandable as director Lloyd Lee Barnett has a solid pedigree where digital compositing is concerned. It’s just the directing part he needs to get the hang of, and in time I’m sure he will.

The acting varied from wooden to downright questionable, with not enough of the actors bringing their A game that I know they have. Star Christian Oliver has done much better than this, however, I put his forced performance and odd delivery down to being directed to act that way. The bottom line is, the writing wasn’t very good, the direction was lacking and the acting was uneven. They also managed to kill off someone who actually had some good moves, and she wasn’t bad on the eyes. That said, what was achieved on such a small budget was very good and visually the film was excellent. I just don’t see anyone that’s not male and over the age of 15 getting much out of it, other than admiring a very hot Antoinette Kalaj X 5 in tight pants.