The Ninja Immovable Heart, 2014.
Directed by Rob Baard and John Balazs.
Starring Danny Glover, Rob Baard, Roger Neave, John Balazs, Cassandra Gava.
Reeve is a member of an elite covert group thought not to exist anymore, he is captured, beaten and brutally tortured, by the very Governments he used to work for. With the help of his old mentor John Carpenter, Reeve must strip away, and rid himself of the emerging demons of his past, so that he may understand the core essence of Ninjutsu, the Ninja’s Immovable heart, in order to remember how and why he was captured, and what he is meant to do, before time runs out and his captors discover why he is really here.
The humble ninja film. It’s long been a B movie staple. From the most dirt cheap, to big budget, the screen theatrics of the ninja has provided plenty of entertainment. In the 80’s in particular, video stores were flush with cheap ninja films. Actor Sho Kosugi starred in a spate of films with the word “ninja” in the title, whilst legendary B movie director Godfrey Ho (think Asias answer to Ed Wood) had a ludicrous amount of ninja movies. So hear we are, 2015, the year of the hoverboard, and for your viewing pleasure, another ninja film. This time starring Danny Glover…
Yeah. That doesn’t quite sound right. Never-the-less, Glover is the big name here. So does that mean a lavish production value too? Well no. It’s incredibly cheap looking, but in a film about a ninja, that’s not an end gamer. Just to clarify too, Danny Glover doesn’t play a ninja, because lets face it “he’s too old for this shit.”
The titular ninja is played by Rob Baard, who also created what will end up as a franchise (there have been short prequels, and a sequel is in the works) and co-directed (along with John Balazs). Baard plays Reeve an elite soldier, trained in the ways of a ninja by John Carpenter (no, not him, a character played by Roger Neave). He’s captured and tortured. He must exorcise the demons of his past in order to remember how and why he was captured, and what he is supposed to be doing. If that sounds slightly confusing, it is. Plotlines are never the strongest feature in a ninja film, but this one takes the biscuit.
The trouble with this film is, as well as a sketchy storyline which doesn’t really go anywhere, the narrative structure also adds to the confusion too. Much of the film is flashback and often from the perspective of different characters. The film sometimes cuts directly from one flashback to another, and then back. It’s all over the place and merely elongates what is only enough plot to cover a 20 minute short film. Unfortunately this film spans an hour and three quarters (indeed, far too long for a ninja film). The film is poor in almost every department, and though it’s listed as having a budget of around 1 million Oz dollars, it doesn’t look anything like that (unless that equates to about 3000 pounds).
It’s loaded with the sort of CGI that 12 year olds put up on home-made YouTube videos, whilst the fight sequences look a little haphazard. There are also issues with sound and dialogue looping (though this may merely have been a bad screener). Now granted, comically unrehearsed fights, bad dubbing and poor acting…yeah, I’m watching a ninja film, it’s par for the course. What is missing is a likeable, laughable charm though. A lot of these awfully bad ninja films of the 70’s and 80’s, the trash video specials were entertainingly bad. This is kind of numbingly bad.
Danny Glover spends almost the entirety of his role in one room with a green screen behind him, projecting an unconvincing background. He looks a little confused, like he wondered into the wrong movie set and is wondering when Mel is gonna turn up. He recites the awful dialogue with a look of bewilderment and occasionally looks at the camera almost akin to a hostage. It’s a little sad to see him reduced to this. The other notable cast member is Cassandra Gava who Conan The Barbarian fans might remember as the Witch. Baard lacks charisma and star power, but fair play to him for setting himself the task of creating his own potential franchise and making it happen. It’s commendable and undoubtedly some will stop at the DVD whilst browsing the charts and wonder just what a Danny Glover ninja film is like. Hats off to Baard. It’s a lesson to all aspiring movie stars, writers and directors. If you want something done, do it yourself. Don’t wait for something to fall into your lap.
Overall, this won’t rank as one of the more memorable ninja films out there. Nor is it probably the worst, but it’s still pretty horrendous, lacking the knowing irony that might have made it a winner if handled a little more like Black Dynamite for example.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★