Commando Ninja (2018) — A frantic homage of every ’80s action movie ever

“Send me to the future. Do it. For Jenny.”

Justin’s rating: The Power Glove — It’s so bad in this movie.

Justin’s review: I’m always a little wary of these modern parodies made in the style of 1980s movies, because for every Manborg and Turbo Kid, there are plenty of projects that overplay their hand and don’t get it. Plus, I don’t quite see the *need* for these movies due to the treasure trove of ’80s flicks that are always available. So while I’m not rushing to see such parodies, I’m not going to ignore ones that come highly recommended — such as Commando Ninja.

Inspired by American Ninja and Commando (hence the title), French filmmaker Ben Combes Commando Ninja is a send-up of the ridiculous action movie plots and sequences that came from that time period. It’s a nonstop mish-mash of everything from Rambo to Predator to Jurassic Park, thrown together in a plot that should’ve been sent in for a psyche eval. Combes also really thought it was essential to include a highly racist character — you know, for period authenticity.

When the titular commando ninja John Hunter discovers that his daughter’s been kidnapped in 1986 by the dreaded Red Ninja, he goes on a tad bit of a rampage to get her back. Along the way, there are some flashbacks to Vietnam, a velociraptor attack or two, a Home Alone-style invasion, and even a trip to the apocalyptic future of 1998. It’s a whole lot of territory to cover in the 68-minute runtime here, and trust me, the filmmakers weren’t going to sandwich in any character development to get in the way of all of those beach bodies montages.

I think the key question with throwback movies like this is, does it work? Does it strike the right balance between homage, parody, and actually good filmmaking? Commando Ninja does have a lot of bizarre elements and inspired moments that make for a fun watch, and it’s clear that there’s a whole lot of love for the dumb action flicks of the ’80s.

But something’s off here even still. It’s a little too crude in parts (although some would say that’s the point), and it flings all of these distracting references at the audience in such a random, slipshod manner that the line between parody and spoof gets crossed. It’s really, really desperate for you to think it’s both funny and clever.

And you know, maybe it is. I don’t think so, but I’ve been wrong before.

Didja notice?

  • PredatorCam
  • Lotta ninjas in Vietnam
  • NES shooters!
  • Arnold Schwarzenneger’s fitness tape
  • That beach montage is so on point with ’80s movies that I’m dying
  • When someone’s at the door, it’s a good time to… take off your clothes?
  • That girl gave the creepiest smile
  • It’s Home Alone, with a shotgun
  • Pretty sure that sais aren’t weapons for poking into the butt
  • Katanas are ideal for chopping down trees
  • …and that’s when the veliciraptors attacked
  • A Garfield phone!
  • A Power Glove. Of course.

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