For today’s installment of 73 Sports Movies in 73 Days, I decided to buck this week’s trend of picking movies that I love by going with one that I’ve always hated – 3 Ninjas. Despite the fact that it starred Victor Wong, who played Egg Shen in the best movie ever made, Big Trouble in Little China, 3 Ninjas was a horrible film that inspired jerk children all over the U.S., including me, to think that we wanted to try karate or Kung Fu, when in reality we should have been out playing baseball.
Moreover, I believe that 3 Ninjas was a propaganda film launched by the Big Karate lobby as a means of tricking parents into dishing out hundreds of dollars a pop for the sake of sending their kids off to spend time with some strangers for an hour. But then, that’s a whole different investigation, most likely for my eventual book, “Everything In This World Is A Scam: From Student Loans To Adult Friend Finder.” It’s due in stores by 2019.
In the meantime, let’s talk about all of the zany noises we can make while adults try to kill children.
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Knuckle Up And Kick Back To This Plot
One of the only things that I like about 3 Ninjas is that it doesn’t waste any time answering questions like, “Why are these kids so happy that they’re being sheltered from their friends and peers so they can be trained as little killing machines?” or “What parents would even let their kids spend their summers learning how to fight?” Instead, we just get straight into the action, as the kids explain in a voiceover that they hate summer camp – as all kids should – and they think it’s awesome to be spending their summers with their Chinese grandfather, who is teaching them how to be ninjas. Simple enough.
Meanwhile, their father is an FBI agent hot on the trailer of an arms dealer named Snyder – you know he’s a villain because he says, “I love being a bad guy” just like all bad guys do – who is selling missiles to what he believes to be an Arab man. Instead, it’s a trick and the FBI swarms on Snyder, but it’s a double trick because he has his army of ninjas waiting for them. Thanks to his martial artistry, Snyder is able to escape as the dad can only stand there and be pissed off.
Naturally, Snyder’s a villain who doesn’t want to kill people, he just wants to sell weapons of mass destruction that will, in turn, kill many people, so instead of killing FBI dad, he goes to grandpa and asks that he get dad off of his back. Of course, that’s after his team of ninjas and the boys fight. If you’re keeping track, Snyder won’t order a hit on an FBI agent, but he will allow his ninjas to attempt to kill children. It’s an ass-backwards movie, folks.
But Snyder might as well bump the old man off, because he’s a real dick to his kids. Grandpa gave the three dorks new nicknames – Sam is now Rocky, Jeffrey is now Colt and Michael is now Tum Tum – but dad basically laughs in their faces and makes them feel like tools for being into karate. Well, why the f*ck is he letting them go train with grandpa during the summer? Be a dad, not a hypocrite.
Also, grandpa may want to add some chivalry into his ninja training, because the way that Rocky talks to Emily is deplorable. The girl has a pretty obvious crush on him, but he’s a complete a-hole to her and his brothers dog him about her, too. Is it a coincidence that divorce rates are sky high today when kids in the 90s were being taught to treat girls like crap and abhor relationships? I say no. 3 Ninjas is responsible for today’s divorce epidemic in America.
Anyway, in his quest to kill children, Snyder sends three non-ninja surfer bros after the kids to kidnap them, and one of them is played by Patrick Labyorteaux, who previously starred in Ski School and Summer School. Labyorteaux and the other actors clearly prepped for the role by sitting in front of a TV and watching Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure for two days, because they’re just imitating Keanu Reeves every time they speak.
Also giving the 3 Ninjas crap are the school’s bullies, who steal Emily’s bike after Rocky ditches her, because, again, he treats her like sh*t because no one is teaching these boys how to be gentlemen. Because the 3 Ninjas won’t actually fight anyone except for adults who try to kill children, they settle their differences with the bullies by playing basketball. That leads to the worst basketball scene in film history.
I’d say it’s the worst in film and TV history, but it’s still better than the basketball scenes from Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Saved by the Bell.
The 3 Ninjas find out that their grandfather is BFF with the bad guy, so they put on their stupid new masks to take on their kidnappers first. This is the one part of the movie that I actually like because the surfer dudes call pizza “za” and that’s so damn stupid that I can’t wait for them to get their asses kicked by children. There are plenty of annoying people in this film, but the kidnappers are by far the worst. Of course, that fight lasts for what feels like an eternity, as one of the bad guys even stops to take a dump after they feed him Ex-Lax.
In yet another plot detail that contradicts everything else, once the 3 Ninjas have defeated the kidnappers, Snyder’s main henchmen simply show up and take them. That’s when grandpa and dad have it out over their differences in opinions over the art of the ninja. (I also spent five minutes trying to figure out if the dad in 3 Ninjas is also the bad guy from Men at Work, which I’ve considered writing about because they bowl at one point, but he’s not. I’m really glad that I got to the bottom of that.) Grandpa goes after Snyder, because it takes a ninja to beat a ninja or some bullsh*t like that.
Eventually, the 3 Ninjas go MacGyver on the bad guys and use random and convenient tools as ninja weapons to beat everyone’s asses, and every time they punch or kick someone, the sound editor pushed a button on his zany sound board so it was adorable while Rocky used a katana to cut this douchebag’s clothes off of him.
The 3 Ninjas then have their next big showdown with a group of inept ninjas who seem to be more interested in choreography than they are simply attacking small children, and that leads us to the most quotable line of the movie: “We should run! We should hide! We should kick their butts!”
I guarantee that gave a lot of kids in 1992 the confidence to fight back against bullies, only to get their asses kicked. That’s fine, though, because I think kids should learn that it’s good to fight back, and every kid should get beat up at least once. It would keep everyone grounded. You know, except for the kids that would keep getting their asses kicked and eventually grow up to be horrible and violent sociopaths bent on destroying the world.
As the 3 Ninjas have defeated most of the bad guy’s dipshit ninjas, Toru Tanaka shows up to be the invincible wall of a man, but they beat him with a headbutt to the stomach, because Tum Tum’s just a little kid and has no clue what concussions are.
Finally, these ninjas show up and do what they should have done from the very beginning. Of course, not only do they surround the kids, which would have ended with hilarious results when they all gunned each other down, but they didn’t even bother pulling the triggers. I mean, I’m glad that the ninjas didn’t break their code by using guns, but why even have them in the first place? If you ask me, 3 Ninjas teaches kids that guns are a final solution. How unbelievably irresponsible.
Snyder could have killed grandpa and then taken out the 3 Ninjas, but like most idiot villains, he took too long and allowed grandpa to choke him out with jelly beans. That was actually foreshadowed earlier in the film when Tum Tum choked on a jelly bean, which means that the writer of this film actually sat there and thought, “Bro, this is so good!”
In the end, dad realizes that his kids should be able to be ninjas and he allows them to keep their stupid nicknames. Then he makes his partner collect all of the evidence from the cargo ship that was being used to store and distribute WMDs. In conclusion, the father of the 3 Ninjas is a major dick.
Final Grade: F. This movie was terrible. But go ahead and tell me how awesome it was, I know the backlash is coming. The only thing I give this movie credit for is the original rap song from the ending.