Comedy Oddities: Space Ninjas

space ninja index

Space Ninja’s reportedly has a budget of $20,000 which doesn’t quite tell you all you need to know about the film but it should give you a good idea that this isn’t going to be an exactly Oscar worthy affair, or anything that was going to trouble Avengers: Endgame as the most successful film of all time. Still, being awards worthy or incredibly successful is never always a sign of an amazing film, and while Space Ninja’s definitely isn’t that it is a quirkily agreeable affair.

It begins with a quick introduction from Jack Strange (Dirk Benedict), who hosts a show called Stranger Than Fiction where he tells us about a mysterious event somewhere in Asia. Next thing we know we’re in a high school with five kids all attending detention on a Saturday, because hey, why not rip off The Breakfast Club if you can’t think up anything original, and then throw in Space Ninjas to make it all the more daft but fun. Of course this was an US film so all the actors have American accents, and a couple of the other cast members are distinctly non-Asian, but if you’re going to be picky with this sort of nonsense than you’ll never enjoy it.

The five students involved in this ridiculousness are Zack (Damien Zachary) a quiet, studious kid, Omar (Amirul Afiq Bin Amri), a Basketball throwing jock, Keiko (Cassandra Foo Wern Yen), a Japanese Exchange Student who doesn’t appear to speak English but definitely understands it, Tammy (Mia Sara Shauki) a rich, aloof student, and Stanlei (Yi Jane), a cool girl who skateboards around spraying cocks and balls on buildings. Naturally they don’t get along at first, but then the lights go out, the smoke machine is turned on and things start to get strange as Space Ninjas suddenly attack.

Of course it would be easy to pick out all the parts which don’t work, there’s some truly bad acting from Razif Hashim as the teacher Mr Hughes where it feels like he saw one episode of The Simpsons and based his role entirely on Mr Burns if he were deeply, deeply camp, while the special effects are pretty shoddy throughout. But if you’re able to ignore such issues, or enjoy them because it makes the whole film seem so much more pleasingly goofy, then there’s a lot to be amused and bemused by here.

Best of all is the teacher Professor Rosencrantz (Brian Narelle), a somewhat mad scientist who on the sly has been cloning humans and who provides the funniest bits of the movie as he brings Bruce Lee back to life to fight the space ninjas. But the kids deliver some gloriously awful lines with glee too, like Zack’s “You’re like a Transformer but only hotter. You’re a hotterbot. Wait I’ve got it, you could be called Optimus Fine” which is made all the funnier by his sudden realisation of just how naff a thing it is to say, and there’s some mildly amusing Scream style chat about horror film tropes and who will die and when as well.

The deaths are often inventive – this is a film where the space ninja’s carry around fucking enormous swords so it’d be weird if they weren’t – while Professor Rosencrantz gives the kids some cool technology to give them a better chance against the extra-terrestrial fighty types. Though logically a fair amount doesn’t add up, especially when it comes to how adept the Space Ninjas are at fighting and using portals in various scenes, it’s not enough to spoil the movie, at least if you’re in a forgiving mood which you kind of need to be to enjoy it.

It’s definitely no classic and a bit of unneeded character building towards the end slows the film down when it should be speeding up, and only fans of this kind of nonsense will really enjoy it, but if you’ve a fondness for low budget silliness which has a smarter than needed script and a couple of strong performances in among the dodgy ones, then it’s a film you’ll probably find all rather appealing.

★★★ 1/4

Alex Finch.
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