Last Friday, Mikey Zeroe from The Amazing Race 26 and me, Jake Draper from The Amazing Life of Jake Draper (I've been pitching the idea around to various networks), sat down to do a review of the 1997 film, Pocket Ninjas. It was...it was a thing. Before getting started, go check that podcast out:
You can watch the full film for free on YouTube, so if you're truly a fan of the cheesiest films ever put to celluloid, we are surely the podcast for you.
However, we try limiting the podcast to around 20 minutes, and a movie as eventful as Pocket Ninjas was never something we could merely sum up in a matter of 20 minutes of talking, so we also went the extra mile and decided to release our very own notes from the movie. Here they are, in all of their glory, exactly as they were written as we watched the movie.
Let's start with Mike's thoughts, since he tends to follow the plot more closely than I care to:
Mikey Zeroe's Notes:
Pocket Ninjas - a 1997 Film
Starring: Robert D'Zar as Kobra Khan (very huge jaw) & Gary Daniels as Master Jack (Expendibles)
Judgment based on Poster
Neon Green/Yellow/Pink Poster. Going to be very 90's, full of catchphrases. Obviously a 3 Ninjas
Rip-Off, but poster makes me think possible Home Alone Rip Off as Pocket Ninjas are holding household items (Big Scissors, Rake, etc.)
1st Act (First 30 Minutes)
-Opens with Karate training montage (which this movie does not shy away from thoughout)
-Master Jack (karate teacher) informing 3 random kids (no connection other than being his students) about a super villian named "Kobra Khan" and his gang called the Stingers. (Cut scene to gang fight - sterotypical 90's gang - out of nowhere man in jumpsuit and clown mask straight from theHalloween Superstore saves the day.) Master Jack reveals that this man is called the "White Dragon", as he gives them each a different colored clown mask, he says he is going to pass down the sacred training of the White Dragon to these 3 random kids, who we find out are named Tonya, Steve, and Damien.
-10 Minute mark, we get end of opening credits and 2nd Karate training montage.
-After training montage, we get the true opening scene of movie, Stinger gang randomly bullying movie goers, then from out of nowhere the Pocket save the day...WHILE ON ROLLER BLADES. (Figured the Stingers would beat them up, NOPE.)
-Stingers report the loss to their boss, who is a child. (Had to look up name, Cubby Khan, son of super villain Kobra Khan.)
-Cubby upset, tells them to train harder which leads into a BAD GUY Karate training montage.
-DAYTIME Treehouse meeting of Pocket Ninjas, Steve has Japanese comic book, for some reason.
-Random cut to a NIGHTTIME fight scene between White Dragon, and Kobra Khan inside a balloon room at the carnival. Horrible intentional comedy. So Kooky.
-DAYTIME Treehouse scene of Pocket find out through comic book (because they can all of a sudden read Japanese) that the White Dragon and Kobra Khan are enemies because their Sensai put a bounty on White Dragon's Head. (Shocked, building up backstory for final fight.)
-Revealed THROUGH MONTAGE that Master Jack is the White Dragon!
2nd Act (Mid 30 Minutes)
-Cubby Khan randomly decides to make a deal with a random business man to pour toxic waste into the cities sewers, all while the Stinger's attack some dude that just got his haircut, but again, the Pocket Ninjas make the save on roller blades. (How do they know - Bat signal? How are they so good? Never in danger.)
-Cubby Khan now wants the Stinger's to kidnap the Pocket Ninjas. This leads into another Bad Guy Karate Training Montage. (Wasted montage, as the Stinger's failed in kidnapping Damien, then never tried to kidnap another Pocket Ninja again for the rest of the movie.)
-Cut to Master Jack and Pocket Ninjas in his Dojo, where he very anti-climatically reveals to them that he is the White Dragon, they seem unimpressed.
-Another random karate training montage, because why not?
-Random throwaway scene where the Stingers are chasing the Pocket Ninjas through a parade. leads to nothing, but Master Jack is upset about it, and tells the Pocket Ninjas that they cannot take on Kobra Khan alone...for some reason despite how impressive they have been, and then he takes away their masks. (Actually impressed with more buildup to the White Dragon/Kobra Khan final fight. Thank Jeebus there is some storyline)
-Damien's Mother introduced, talks about his father dying, hints attraction to Master Jack. ALL WHILE DAMIEN IS PLAYING A GAME BOY WITH NO GAME CARTRIDGE INSERTED. (Budget?)
-Pocket Ninjas can time travel, my own assumption. They jump scene to scene, different locations, different clothes. Time travel is my conclusion. Also around the time I made this assumption, Steve stole his mask, and Damien's mask back from Master Jack, but not Tonya's.
-Stinger's kidnap Damien's mom by luring her in with a poster of Master Jack tied to a fishing pole. Classic!
-Steve and Damien decide to get into their pocket Ninjas getup and go save Damien's Mother, while Tonya decides to go be a big tattle tail and let Master Jack know what they're doing. This leads to the White Dragon emerging from the ashes, and...A KARATE TRAINING MONTAGE!
3rd Act (Final 20 Minutes)
-Steve and Damien bust into Cubby Khan's Headquarters and start battling the Stinger's, they save Damien's Mom, and Cubby Khan decides to step down from his throne and fight them. Then out of nowhere, the WHITE DRAGON ARRIVES!
-Fight scene after fight scene after fight scene.
-White Dragon takes down mullet man with switch blade, then decides to take off his mask to reveal...THAT IT'S ACTUALLY TONYA! SWERVE!
-Pocket Ninjas chase Cubby Khan out of his Headquarters, and through a carnival. Cubby Khan tells them this is their final test...A VIRTUAL REALITY FIGHT.
-I have no notes on this, nor do I know how to desribe it other than long, boring, anti-climatic, and really weird.
-In the end, the Pocket Ninjas VIRTUALLY defeat Cubby Khan, and I'm ready for Kobra Khan to break through the wall and threaten the kids only for Master Jack to make the big save and go on to do battle with Kobra Khan for the final time...but instead the movie cuts to a scene of the Pocket Ninjas sitting in a treehouse with a girl randomly coming over to visit Steve.
-Before the credits role, the final scene (that lasts all of 8 seconds) is a shot of Kobra Khan walking out of the shadows in a dingy warehouse and uttering the words. "Who defies the great Kobra Khan?"
Conclusion / Grade:
-Way too many storylines left untouched. What happened to Master Jack and Damien's Mom's love story? What happened to Master Jack all together? And the biggest one...Why did they decide to drop the only storyline they had the entire movie with the final battle between the White Dragon and Kobra Khan? Did Gary Daniels wake up one morning and decide he didn't want to film such a stupid movie?
-I give it a #4 Mozarella on the Cheese Grader, because it WAS a comedy movie. 2% of this movie was meant to be intentional comedy. If this were 100% serious, and it panned out the way it did, it would be a hard #5 Cheddar Cheese all day long.
Jake Draper's Notes:
Poster Judgement: I have no idea why they have these strange items, but I'm assuming they'll have absolutely nothing at all to do with this film. A giant pair of scissors? The only explanation is a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The giant binoculars? Are they spies also? Are those supposed to look like bad Photoshop? I'm going into this movie with a lot of enthusiasm.
Part 1: (First 30 minutes)
Before we even get rolling, I just have to say that you can't truly grasp a film of this magnitude unless you see it. It stands all by itself in the pantheon of great films.
"Pocket Ninjas" opened with karate on a beach during a sunset with narration over it, so I immediately understand that this is a fine art film.
Oh my God, what even are these costume designs? Who even are the costume designers?
Oh my God again, what even is this acting?
It truly blows my mind to think that this movie was made in 1997, not in 1984. We had readily available and cheap technology to make a better movie.
So much happened in just two minutes of this movie that no amount of words can even describe it.
The White Dragon...I...I cannot even. I want so badly to attempt verbally explaining just the opening of this movie and it's so abstract that I'll never do it justice.
Here I am, past the 6 minute mark, and the credits are STILL rolling. I could have made a better movie...by myself...and played all of the characters and ran thecamera. And by "camera," I mean the front-facing camera of my phone which I hold with a selfie stick and do all of the scenes. Side note: That's a great idea for a movie.
Do the dragon masks NEED clown hair? Is it to make them look hilarious? Or is it to make sure there isn't even a shred of intimidation in these characters? If one of these goals was the actual goal, then they either succeeded really hard or failed even harder.
One thug says," Nice night for a walk, eh?" And I'm left pondering over whether they are paying homage to "The Terminator" or just blatantly stealing lines from movies because they know no one will ever see. I guess the moment the Pocket Ninja clown fighters showed up ON ROLLER BLADES I stopped caring about the script and lost myself in the action.
If I actually read all of my notes on this movie then the episode would be well over our limit, so maybe we should publish them.
The swinging nuncucks kept making swinging noises well after they were done actually swinging them...because these pocket dragon ninjas are also magic or something.
What in the ever-loving Hell is the villain training program? They actually disco danced at one point. And the soundtrack? Who composed this and why did they do it on a Yamaha keyboard? They found it at a yard sale marked at $4 and they talked the owner down to $2 because it was missing some keys and had some soda spilled on it once so it's sticky.
The white dragon and freaky big jaw guy who I guess is Cobra Kahn fought in a basement full of balloons and pretty much just played with them like akitten playing with bubbles.
The White Dragon seems like a really lame, early 90's WWE gimmick.
They stopped the fight and played patty-cake. I am astounded, lost, frightened, confused, riveted, and hungry. The last was unrelated to the scene.
Then came the strange dancing that we all knew was inevitable in this scene.
"Scout's honor." I can't...just watch this fight scene. Please.
I'm not too proud to admit that I'm completely lost in this movie. It's just scenes of things happening and there isn't a force on earth or Heaven that can make me rewind and try clearing things up.
The actors looking at the camera nonstop is exactly what they teach you to do in acting classes.
Would it have broken the bank to find actors that actually knew karate? The guy playing the White Dragon can do the splits, I guess. But, he does them over and over and over and over. Like, the actor was asked what skills he had and that was the only one that made the list.
"Boys are better than girls,"dialogue was actually written by a preteen boy who charges $1 for cootie shots at recess.
The villains are the least menacing villains to ever grace any screen of any size.
They all have mid-80's fashion sense for whatever reason.
Up to this point the main characters' have done little more than air karate and sit in a circle discussing Japanese comics and giving us strange scenes that have absolutely no place in the narration or context of this film.
It's really nice of Cobra Kahn's gang to only attack people during the day and in an obviously decent neighborhood. And with foam weapons so as not to potentially injure anyone?
Who is this 10 year old villain anyway? Is he the reincarnated Cobra Kahn? If so, what the Hell happened to big Cobra Kahn? Did he die of giant jaw tumors that I didn't know about? Is there a reel missing from this film? How? There aren't even reels on YouTube...
MORE training montages? No synchronizing the moves, because that's for movies that care about themselves. No idea how to use nunchucks either. This movie is basically just a string of montages with some talking and weird fight/dance scenes to break it up.
Until today, "Mad Max: Fury Road" was my favorite movie. Now I am rethinking everything.
There's a scene where they pretend to struggle to carry a garbage can for reasons I can never bother to comprehend and I could just watch it on loop all day. Why did they even put that garbage can in their trunk? What compels these characters to do anything?
Out of 1 hour and 20 minutes of movie, this is about 1 hour and 13 minutes of air karate montages primarily composed of a couple of shots of karate moves that they recycle 3-5 times in order to get a full-length film. It looks good on a resume' when you write, "Made a full-length film in 1997," on there...just don't mention the title.
They seriously got a shot by one camera that accidentally caught another cameraman clearly trying to get a different angle. I have no idea why they didn't cut this out, but it's there during the random parade scene. I'm not making it up. Go look.
If this film were real life then a whole lot of people would be getting in trouble for child abuse.
Actually, speaking of that parade/chase scene, why was it even in here? What purpose did it serve? What came of it?
Damien had a Gameboy in his hand while he was rebelling against his mother..but it had NO GAME IN IT. They couldn't just put a game in there? It's not like they're expensive. The batteries and actual Gameboy are way more than the cartridges.
Also, aside from the child abuse I should mention the negligence, because these kids just do whatever they want whenever they want.
Randomly we can hear some of the characters' thoughts? Why? Is this anime? And is there a love story developing for some reason? We don't have time for love between karate montages.
Ah, yes. More struggling to pick up heavy stuff that isn't heavy.
I cannot find any benefit to doing karate on rollerblades. I think these kids just like karate movies and rollerblading so they decided this movie was just going to be them doing both and living out their dreams.
So, Damien's mom just chases Master Jack posters around town? This worked? She seriously has a mental condition and no one is even concerned. And she's sharing Sara Connor's hair style from 1984, only 13 years later. More "Terminator" homage/thievery.
Seriously. So. Much. Air karate.
The villains kidnapped Damien's mom in broad daylight in the same, nice neighborhood. Somehow Damien and Stinger knew instantly and went to save her. No explanation how they found out was needed or even wanted.
Air karate montage after one line of dialogue since the last air karate montage. Good Lord. And starring THE SAME CHARACTER.
They are training with a katana? Why not use that in a fight? That would be incredibly useful.
Seriously, what in the Hell happened to big-jawed Cobra Kahn? No one is even looking for him. I'm concerned. He fought the White Dragon, vowed revenge, then NEVER CAME BACK AGAIN.
The fight scenes are pretty much on-par with "The Matrix."
I've been trying to find the soundtrack to this movie on iTunes.
The actor playing the White Dragon apparently knows actual karate, and that's probably good for him because these villains believe in attacking him one at a time and with absolutely no guns or weapons of any type ever.
The police in the scene where they're arresting the businessmen don't even have police uniforms if you look closely. They're just blue shirts with a badge shape on the arm, no actual lettering.
What is happening? The climax to this movie is a virtual reality fight? The big-jawed Cobra Kahn was a video game character all along? Is this a swerve? Did M. Night Shyamalan write this script in crayon when he was eight? What am I even doing with my life?
I was totally convinced that this movie couldn't get more strange, but it did. The virtual reality fight took it to a level of weird that I didn't even know existed. The sound effects alone were worth the price of admission...which was $0, so take that as you please.
Things devolved rapidly into a silly string fight, mostly because that's what we were all clamoring for right from the get-go.
Wait, suddenly there's a huge environmental message to this movie? I get that there was a little plotpoint about nuclear waste in the sewers, but literally nothing came of it and there were 0 ramifications from it. It was just...there. And now they're spewing environmental awareness at us randomly? I want to empty aerosol cans into the air right now just to rebel.
I guess, in the end, I was glad that I saw this movie. I teetered between 4 and 5, but, at the end of the day, it wanted to be a comedy as much as an action movie, so the cheese content was semi-intentional in some places. Mozzarella it is. I mean, I finished this up and I was smiling, so regardless of how we got to that point, the movie technically succeeded in putting me in a good mood.
What kind of shoes does a ninja wear?
So, there you have it. A lot of what we write doesn't make it to the show because of time constraints, or, as you probably noticed, we both make a similar point and don't want to repeat ourselves.
Go check us out on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/WhatEvenPod and like us and share us and whatever it is you kids do these days, or hit us up on Twitter @JakobDraper and @MikeyZeroe with the hashtag, #WhatEvenPod.
New podcasts every Friday, and we're so very certain that you'll love this coming week's episode as we explore a movie so crappy that it's actually synonymous with "crappy movie" at this point. Come check that out. We will be announcing the week's movie on Wednesdays on our Facebook page.
Until Friday, keep on cheesing. No? Not a good sign off? Whatever. You write a better one and send it to us. Good bye, folks.