NOW IN THEATERS! I’ve spent my fair share of time in underground Asian video stores perusing the multiple shelves and bins of imported martial arts movies. So it’s not lost on me that the genre has a massive following in the States. I just didn’t think the Midwest was a significant hub of that fandom until I experienced Ryan Harrison’s WTF comedy, Ninja Badass. Running at over 100 minutes, the film has a simple plot, which should say a lot about it.
Writer/director Harrison stars as Rex, a useless white guy who lives in a small redneck town and makes out with a plastic doll on his mother’s couch. By mistake, he uncovers a sinister underground cult known as The Ninja VIP Super Club. It’s led by the menacing Big Twitty (Darrell Francis), who over the years has become a powerful supernatural entity by drinking the blood of hot women and cute puppies.
Rex is thrown into the mix when he falls hard for a hot chick, who then is kidnapped by a team of Ninja VIPs. After a futile effort to rescue her, Rex is saved by a sensei in army fatigues, known as Haskell (Steven C. Rose). Unfortunately, Haskell’s arm is ripped off trying to stop Big Twitty. Not to worry though, Haskell uses his ninja power to grow it back, but for now, his arm is a long sausage with a tiny hand attached at the end. In the meantime, he vows to train Rex to become a ninja, like him, and save the town’s hot chicks and cute puppies.
“…vows to train Rex to become a ninja, like him, and save the town’s hot chicks and cute puppies.”
On first impression, I’d describe Ninja Badass as a silly and insane homage to the over-the-top karate films of the 1970s and 80s (my favorite being The Flying Guillotine). But, I’ll say this, Harrison is clearly a fan of these old martial arts films and has put massive effort into making a faithful parody of the genre while incorporating his midwestern life. Even better, I see no indication whatsoever that Harrison has ever taken a martial arts class at any point in his life. Yet, as chaotic as the plot gets, we have a cohesive narrative that goes off in several directions while still feeling focused.
As a comedy, Ninja Badass serves up one hilarious joke after the next. Harrison lampoons everything and everything, including h***y rednecks, corrupt town leaders, ninja henchmen, and a complete lack of knowledge of Asian customs and cultures. I’m still laughing at Haskell’s dubbed dialogue and his not-even-close-to-fluent Japanese.
But here’s the real reason to watch the film. It’s a visual feast of rotting food for the eyes. I’m pretty sure the lion’s share of the budget went to the practical gross-out gags and make-up, plus a plethora of violent visual effects. The film is loaded with ample amounts of decapitations and dismemberments. Gallons upon gallons of blood are sprayed, thrown, and dumped in this gory mess. There are also plenty of CG effects for a half-dozen explosions, various training segments involving dangerous farm animals, and a room full of cute puppies.
Ultimately, this uber-low-budget production is about a bunch of losers ripping each other to pieces. If that’s not a reason to see Ninja Badass, I don’t know what is. The humor is sophomoric at best, and again if that’s not a reason to see this film… Finally, I’d like to mention my favorite scene involves both boobs and bacon. I love this movie, and it will make the perfect palette cleanser for the uptight Hollywood dreck in theaters now (I’m talking about you, Downton Abbey).
Ninja Badass comes to theaters and VOD on Friday, June 10, 2022.
"…boobs and bacon."