Yet again I’ve been seduced by a title, I’m my own worst enemy.
This is all Quentin Tarantinos fault really. You can argue that the turn of the millennium resurgence of 70s style Blaxploitation cinema is all down to Quentin, his love of the genre oozes through his screenplays for Reservoir Dogs, True Romance and Jackie Brown. So while we can applaud him for bringing Pam Grier back to our screens it is tempered somewhat by Undercover Brother (2002), Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002) and the truly awful remake of Shaft (2000).
For all the millions pumped into these Hollywood Blaxploitation reboots/spoofs they struggle to please for exactly the same reason as Black Ninja, after the first five minutes the novelty has worn thin and none have come with a plan b. Black Ninja has a single achievement, a theme song that revives the funk and soul soundtracks of the era it is emulating perfectly while highlighting the absurdity of the on screen action, but this is used periodically through the film for ever decreasing returns.
So after the opening fight scene where we are introduced to The Black Ninja, his theme song and a few members of the criminal underworld (who seemingly have the ability to scream with their mouths closed) what comes next?
Infamous defence lawyer Malik Ali’s haunted past causes him to double as a vigilante ninja. He defends the city’s worst thugs by day and battles them by night. While protecting a beautiful witness in a case against a ruthless mobster, Malik is led closer to the evil ninja who killed his wife and kids.
That just about covers it, you get a simple martial arts movie made very cheaply by people who at least had good intentions but little competence. It must have sounded so good on paper but martial arts films need experts not amateurs, while most of the actors have limited martial arts skill the fight choreographer (if there was one, one does not appear on the credits) has little to none. The difference between professionals and guys who can throw a half decent roundhouse looks absolutely massive on screen and while you could argue that it’s all part of the desired aesthetic it doesn’t make it any easier to watch.
So despite its awful fight scenes, wooden acting and sub amateur YouTube music video visuals why did I find myself having a fun with Black Ninja? Maybe I’m just a sucker for a theme song and a ninja that dresses like Zorro.
If you want to watch a properly good Blaxploitation spoof then try Black Dynamite, it has more than one joke and a magnificent SOUNDTRACK by recent Ghostface Killah collaborator Adrian Younge. As for Black Ninja this TRAILER has everything you need to see and hear condensed into 90 seconds.