Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

I decided to make screening of Director / Star / Professional Stuntman’s new movie ‘Afro Ninja: Destiny’ an event. Most of the time watching these Straight to DVD movies and prattling on about them is a rather sad and lonely existence, in addition to being a completely thankless one, but after witnessing the trailer for ‘Afro Ninja’ I realized that it would be plain selfish to deny my good friends, all like minded blaxploitation loving, kung fu flick appreciating individuals the rare opportunity to view this film in a group setting, and as such I threw a mini ‘Afro Ninja’ party. I made sure not to watch the film before hand because if the movie did suck I would’ve hated to subject myself to watching a second time and I would be remiss in not mentioning that at this mini party liquor was served, but I was the pretty much the only one drinking since I was at home and wasn’t driving anywhere. So armed with chicken wings and harsh adult beverages the stage was set for about a half dozen middle aged Black men – or more accurately those cats are middle aged as I am significantly younger than they are – to view director Mark Hicks directorial debut ‘Afro Ninja’. May the gods have mercy on all of us.

Reggie Carson (Hicks) is a bit of a sad sack. He’s been working at the post office for over a decade, picked on by his asshole boss and doesn’t even get a sniff of those glorious Post Office Advancement Opportunities. He’s terribly out of shape, his house is a dump and he ain’t got no woman. All this changes for Reggie on a fateful Halloween day at the post office when he and his pretty colleague Sandra (Natascha Hopkins) – who wears a Cris Carter throwback jersey better than Mr. Carter ever did - unearth a lost thirty year old package containing some magic nunchucks which is quickly proceeded by a Tyrone Biggums looking brother who goes postal at the post office, all caught on surveillance video with Reggie making a total ass of himself for the world to see.

Completely embarrassed Reggie goes home and retires to a depressed sleep but when he wakes up he’s sporting a world class afro, a devastating six-pack and the skills of a Ninja Master, skills which Reggie immediately uses for the cause of righteousness and justice and landscaping.  Meanwhile the eeeevil Kung Fu master Jerome ‘Black’ Lightening (James Black), along with his scurrilous crew of eeeevil dojo students are in the process of razing the neighborhood for its properties by oppressing the weak and elderly, and this would include Reggie’s lovable Aunt Mary (Marla Gibbs) and her small family restaurant.


Well Reggie simply can’t allow that to happen, but before he can even think about challenging Black Lightening, there are valuable lessons to be learned about these skills that he has possessed and about the history of these skills and where they originated from.  Reggie must also learn humbleness and humility, he must also engage in pre-marital sexual relations, and he must learn who his real father is.  Only then can the Afro Ninja ascend to become the baddest man in the neighborhood. 


As you may or may not know Mark Hicks made a bit of name for himself some years back during a failed backflip for a Nike commercial audition which was uploaded to the net and quickly became a viral video.  Well we’ll have you know that Mr. Hicks turned that frown upside down and from that event ‘Afro Ninja’ has sprung.  Now in the room in which I watched ‘Afro Ninja’ the results were mixed.  This is probably just a coincidence but it seems that the ones who were drinking the heaviest seemed to enjoy the movie the most.  But again, I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.  Equally important to know is that I’m the one behind the keyboard, the one with the TV show and the one with the website and so my opinion is the only one that matters and I gotta admit that I really enjoyed ‘Afro Ninja’.


The first thing that ‘Afro Ninja’ had going for it was that it was competent.  This isn’t always a foregone conclusion, particularly when you’ve watched as many lower budget urban themed movies as I have, but Hicks proves to be a more than an adequate film director as the sound, cinematography, lighting and editing are all tight and professional.  This film also has actress Mari Morrow in it, who we here at the FCU have long ago crowned as the hottest woman on the planet earth.  The film also had a Jim Kelly sighting, though we had to wait forever to see the man… but it’s good to see that Mr. Kelly is still alive and looking good.  Mark Hicks also succeeded in crafting the narrative for ‘Afro Ninja’ in that he doesn’t take the story too seriously but also avoids making it silly camp and striking a very effective balance between the two.  The acting in the movie was also above average which again is a bit surprising considering leads Hicks and Hopkins are stunt people by profession as opposed to thespians, but I gotta say they all took a back seat to Veteran James Black who seemed to be having the most fun playing the cool heavy Black Lightening.


Of course we’re not saying that ‘Afro Ninja’ was perfect as there was some inconsistent pacing on occasion, there were times that the flick got a little dialog heavy which was totally killing my hard earned buzz, I personally wouldn’t have minded a few more fight scenes because the ones that were here were well done and I completely couldn’t get with the Nunchuck sound effect.  Come on Mark, you know the Nunchuck cutting through the air sound effect is a Kung Fu standard if ever there was one!  I think I got that wav file in a folder somewhere on my PC so let me know if you need it for the sequel.


Regardless ‘Afro Ninja’ was a pretty darned entertaining little film with some nicely choreographed fight scenes, some nice acting performances and a Florence Johnston sighting – how many of you knew Florence’s last name from ‘The Jefferson’s’ huh?  A very well crafted low bud homage to a pair of genres that time has long forgot that I think seriously needs to be brought back.

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