Damn, that’s a redundant title. What kind of ninja isn’t lethal? (Aside from the ditz from The Octagon.) I’m always suspicious when people insist on something that should be obvious, and boy, is there ever a reason to be suspicious about this movie.
Lethal Ninja opens on the shores of Lake Oduba in a fictional African nation where rising acid levels concern the scientific team there. It doesn’t take long for a mysterious party to arrive on the site as prelude to a NINJA ATTACK. The scientists and their assistants are quickly (but disappointingly, bloodlessly) taken out by some clumsy but effective ninjas. After kidnapping the surviving blonde scientist, they blow the encampment to smithereens with RPGs.
In San Francisco, a meditation group is interrupted by the arrival of a CIA official. The teacher, Joe, is informed that his wife, Dominique (the blonde scientist), has been kidnapped. The official tells Joe that all he can do is put him in touch with a contact inside the country. Joe immediately heads over to recruit his kickboxing instructor friend, Pete, on this vague rescue mission.
Arriving in Africa, the two “heroes” check into their hotel. This movie would be over a lot faster if they figured out that Dominique is being held in the exact same hotel. Unfortunately for them, and for me since I have to watch this crap, they do not.
Their arbitrary investigation takes them to a mining facility where they set off all kinds of alarms. The villain insists they be taken alive, presumably for the same dumb, pointless reason all villains in movies do. Attacked by a ninja, Pete drops his crossbow and knocks him out cold. Think that crossbow means he intends to show a little stealth? Nope. Pete immediately uses an explosive arrow to take out a security camera with an explosion the size of a mortar.
These ninjas, unlike most you see in movies, are actually properly camouflaged in brown against the metal mine equipment. Too bad they broadcast their presence by yelling and twirling their nunchuks, and stand still long enough to get shot in the chest.
Escaping into the forest, Joe and Pete come across some imprisoned locals in wooden cages near some sort of manufacturing plant. And just where is this compound? Well, it turns out it’s literally in the backyard of their hotel. Where Dominique hangs out for pretty much the whole movie.
Back at the hotel, Joe plans on investigating a fort – as opposed to the compound in walking distance he knows people are being imprisoned. At the fort, Joe sneaks up on another ninja and snaps his neck. Taking his uniform, Joe finds himself in a warehouse surrounded by ninjas. But not just any ninjas… ROLLERSKATING NINJAS! Yes, rollerskating ninjas. Rollerskating ninjas with blades on their skates.
They fight just about as well you’d expect. Terribly. They never even use the swords on their backs. Instead, they just skate right into Joe’s punches. You can stop watching there because that’s the last time ninjas are even remotely interesting in this flick.
Joe escapes and links up with Pete. Confronted by a line of ninjas with machine guns – hardly ninjas in my book – they surrender their weapons. Joe challenges the villain’s best ninja to a pathetic one-on-one. He wins, but it doesn’t matter. They’re taken captive and strapped to the lamest torture device ever: the seesaw. They’re placed on opposite ends, and are electrocuted when the chains around their ankles brush against the electrified grating. How they torture single intruders is a mystery… Maybe they bore them to death with the story of how they decided a seesaw would be even remotely intimidating.
Luckily, the villain’s girlfriend frees the two men, swinging the seesaw to conveniently knock out the two ninja guards who are directly in front of each of them. Joe goes to rescue his wife from the hotel he’s been staying in the whole damn movie, and Pete rigs explosives around the compound.
As dawn breaks, the country’s president somehow happens to be there to greet them and is completely unfazed when they set off explosives directly behind the only decent hotel in the nation.
The villain, meanwhile, escapes in a helicopter to the mining facility. On foot, Joe and Pete somehow manage to catch up to the villain who took a HELICOPTER to the mine. Right… I’m fast, but even I’m not THAT fast. And all for what? So the villain could climb a tall tower where Joe could corner him and trick one of his own punk-ass ninjas into stabbing the boss. The end.
The only question I was left with – aside from the questionable acting, fighting, and plot – was this: where do I get a pair of those roller skates? They look stupid as hell, but I’d love to kill Ryu with the most embarrassing weapon possible.