Some movies are so good, and have such an interesting hook to them, that they inspire many many imitators. “Enter The Dragon”, “Halloween”, and “The Blair Witch Project” are three big examples, but the new kid on the block is “The Raid”. It’s a brilliantly simple idea – our protagonists need to fight their way out of a large building, filled with people who want to kill them. Because you can get away with setting pretty much the entire thing indoors, budgets can be stretched too.
“Ninja Apocalypse” isn’t just a clever name, because we’re in a post-apocalyptic situation. Ninjas are everywhere, just because, and they’ve got some pretty badass powers – one clan can shoot fire, another has super-speed (and weird teeth, not sure if they’re related), but our heroes, the Lost Clan, have electricity-based powers. Main guy Cage (Christian Oliver, who you may remember from being the Zack Morris replacement in “Saved By The Bell: The New Class”) is asked to take a group of Lost Clan ninja to a big meeting, where Fumitaka (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, a great “That Guy” actor) is trying to engineer some peace between the clans.
The rest of the Lost Clan are very simply sketched out at the beginning – Cage is told to take the strongest, the smartest, the fiercest and “the most talented” (not really sure what that meant, it appears the filmmakers couldn’t think of another way than “hottest” to describe any abilities a woman might have). So, the five of them go, and while they’re at the big pow-wow, Fumitaka is killed and the crime is pinned on the Lost Clan.
Now, I said “The Raid” but if you’re any sort of a fan of genre movies, right about now you’ll be saying “this is more The Warriors, surely?”. And you’d be right – I’d lay good money on someone describing it as one crossed with the other in order to secure funding. There’s a scene later on where they’re stopped by the Sirens, the hot women gang, and I said out loud “have they not seen The Warriors?”
Although the promotional material says they fight their way out of a hundred-storey deep bunker, it’s not strictly true – they fight their way off the level they start on, then drop to the very bottom and take on some zombies (why zombies? Why not zombies, is the question you should be asking) then go right back up to the top. It’s not the only time you’re left feeling a trifle cheated – for a film which should be non-stop bad-ass-dom and excitement, there’s not a ton of any of those things. The big reveal makes no sense, revealing Fumitaka to have been a sucker for decades, too.
Director Lloyd Lee Barnett is better known as a visual effects guy, and it definitely shows – well done on that front, although the CGI blood is a bit too fake-looking. It looks like a fair amount of money was spent on it, but perhaps they ought to have spent a little more on acting and a little less on special effects. No-one needed what amounted to a lightsaber battle at the end, you guys! So, a film which certainly looks good, with mostly interesting set design, but with too few actors of any ability and a script which borrowed so heavily from “The Warriors” I’m surprised they didn’t sue.
Rating: thumbs down