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Norwegian Ninja (2010)

August 5, 2012

MY CALL:  This is a risky blend of odd, stylistic comic devices that didn’t work for me at all.  However, risky movies are for risk-taking movie-goers.  So give it a try if you’re a fan of the ridiculously different.  For me, this movie was an intolerable “F” and I consider that I like all sorts of all genres.  IF YOU LIKE THIS, WATCH:  I have no idea.  Maybe Buckaroo Banzai or Flash Gordon?  They strike me as similarly ridiculous.  WHAT TO WATCH INSTEAD:  Simply something else.  Anyone looking for comedy and martial arts should clearly be turning to Jackie Chan classics or Kung Fu Hustle.  Even the lousy Kung Pow was better than this in my opinion.

                 Like a middle school health class video, Norwegian Ninja is way off-kilter but delivered with a straight face.  Arne Treholt and his team of pasty ninjas live on an uncharted island and wage “invisible” war to protect Norway’s way of life.  They’re well funded as well, with underwater snowmobile-looking crafts which make them impervious to “physics” (e.g., water resistance, pressure, the bends, buoyancy).

                In the spirit of Monty Python the ninja force’s island lair is a diorama model and it is guarded by a feng shui force field produced from well-placed foo lion statues.  But steering clear of Monty Python is the extremely dry delivery of what is meant to pass as humor.  I love stupid movies.  But I had difficulty enjoying this.  Attempts at making Arne appear amusingly talented fail (for my taste).  He adroitly throws cigarettes to his mouth, he throws a ninja suit and dresses it onto someone as part of the throw, and appears before people with gratuitous bursts of ninja smoke.  I find myself moaning.  The fighting is about the most painful part, not even so bad that it’s good, and there’s not much action at all.

                Don’t let this movie or my review scare you away from other risky, uniquely stylistic Norwegian releases like Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010), Thale (2012, upcoming), Trollhunter (2010) or Dead Snow (2009).  And don’t let me scare you away from Norwegian Ninja.  I hated it and will never sit through it again, but a lot of people would say that about The Human Centipede (2009)or Tokyo Gore Police (2008)—which I really liked.  This movie took some big risks and I can appreciate that.  So if you consider yourself an adventurous movie-goer who seeks hidden gems among foreign and straight-to-DVD flicks, then maybe consider this oddity as a chance to find your new favorite flavor—even though it left a foul taste in my mouth.

                At worst, it is a great out-of-left-field candidate for a drinking game.

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