Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

So I’m sitting around minding my own damn business looking for movies to stick in my cue and run across this movie here ‘Mask of the Ninja’ starring Casper Van Dien. Putting the word ‘Ninja’ anywhere in the title of your movie is a damn good way to get me to watch it, then you stick Mr. Van Dien in it who is like this generations Lorenzo Lamas and I’m thinking we just may have a craptastic winner on our hands. But that box cover over there is mighty misleading showing an Anglo in a Ninja mask, thus it had me thinking that Casper was going to go Michael Dudikoff on us in this one and be that Kung Fu kicking white dude showing a bunch of Asian martial artists how it’s supposed to be done. No sir, nothing of the type with this movie ‘Mask of the Ninja’ which as turns out ended up to be a pretty wild, crazy, bloody, nonsensical and ultimately entertaining little affair.

Mr. Takeo (Dana Lee) is a filthy rich Japanese National trained in the way of the samurai and is also in possession of a beautiful daughter named Miko (Kristy Wu) who has a set of lips on her that will make you weep. Unfortunately Takeo-san will not be with us long as his home is infiltrated by some rather lethal Ninja in search of something, and when they don’t get what they want the execute Takeo-san in front of his hiding, cowering, cowardly albeit full lipped daughter.

Simply by chance Miko calls a potential paramour while hiding from these deadly Ninja and this dudes phone is answered by tough L.A. cop Jack Barrett (Van Dien) who was just wrapping up a sting operation. He checks out the scene, finds a bunch of dead dudes, rescues the hot daughter and now the investigation is on.

Turns out there is a centuries long feud between two warring Japanese clans and the lovely Miko holds the key in which way the power between these clans will shift. The bad thing for our stalwart cop is that he’s found himself in the middle of this war and these people are playing for keeps for real. The only thing Jack has in his favor to help

survive this mess is the family confidant and ninjutsu master Hirohito (Anthony Brandon Wong) who for all we know might be in on the scam as well. One thing we do know for sure is that this evil clan known as ‘Black Death’ or something really wants this information and will kill, kill some more, kill one more time again and then kill your momma to get what they want. Trust me on this one.

Don’t read any further if you want to be ‘surprised’ by ‘Mask of the Ninja’ because we’re about to SPOIL stuff left and right but if you choose to watch this movie try not to get too terribly attached to any of the characters in this movie, at least those who weren’t in ‘Starship Troopers’. Seriously. I don’t think I’ve seen a movie with a death - to characters introduced ratio this high ever. That cute Asian receptionist who was answering the phones? Nah, she ain’t gonna make it. The Data Entry dude? Nah, he ain’t gonna make it either. That cool Black cop who knows so much about Asian culture? He’s in grave jeopardy. The Police Chief, the Security Guard, the Janitor? Nope. Death is the order of the day in ‘Mask of the Ninja’ my friends. We were hoping that pretty actress Christina Vidal, who’s happens to be even hotter than Kristy Wu, might make it to the finish line but I’m thinking that director Bradford May must have asked the girl out on a date or something and got turned down because this poor girl got it worse than anybody. The poor kid got a neck full of shuriken, then stabbed, then stabbed again then gutted and then stabbed one more time again. I get it, she’ dead, you can stop stabbing her now. Sure they killed pretty much everybody in this movie, but nobody got it as bad as my girl.

But is the movie any good? Well… no. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t like it. The whole is exercise is pretty silly as a story that started out fairly interesting eventually escalated into sheer lunacy by the time the final credits rolled. To add a sense of urgency to some of the fight scenes Director May shot these scenes by zooming in and zooming out with blurs and spins and shakes and after a while I had to look away to keep from tossing my sausage biscuit. I love me a sausage biscuit anytime of the day. We will never crap on Casper Van Dien as an actor because you know what you’re gonna get with Casper because Casper does what Casper does. No more, no less and we admire that kind of consistency in an actor. Kristy Wu’s character was odd as she was a screaming, cowering, meek and mild quivering wreck throughout the whole movie, that is until the end when she started round house kicking folks to the face with her lethal kung fu skills. Skills she might’ve thought about using before hand as they might’ve saved the life of her father and the lives of the Los Angeles Police Department. Yes, every single member of the LAPD was murdered via Death by Ninja. All of them.

But as crazy and as wildly uneven as ‘Mask of the Ninja’ was I did enjoy watching it. We hate to admit it but the sky high murderization factor sure was fun to watch and it did make for a movie that was never boring. Of course they made Casper Van Dien a badass but they didn’t make him a super badass that could easily kick a trained Ninja’s ass since Casper spent a large portion of the movie cut up, beat up, sliced up and knifed up. Plus the movie had a completely gratuitous titty scene, a beheading, hot women of color aplenty and Kristy Wu’s lips so there you go. A surefire recipe for success.

Silly? Hell yes. Borderline incomprehensible? Sure. The most violent TV movie ever? Possibly. Boring? Not for a moment. Understand these facts before you go in and you just might have a good time watching this nonsense calling itself ‘Mask of the Ninja’. Unless you’re the parents of actress Christina Vidal because you’re not gonna want to see your baby girl go out like that.

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