"First impressions are deceptive. You might think this movie, at best, a diversion suitable for a bored 13-year old on a Saturday afternoon. You are in for a shock. Surf Ninjas is one of the funniest flicks to come out of Hollywood in the past decade. Johnny (Ernie Reyes, Jr.) and Adam (Nicolas Cowan) are two Asian-American surfer dudes growing up with foster dad Mac (John Karlen), literally on the beach in southern California. School is a bore (Director Neal Israel does an amusing cameo as their hopelessly out-of-it principal). All that matters to them is riding the next wave, until a gang of camouflage-clad killer ninjas shows up to assassinate them. Of course, the ninjas were sent by Colonel Chi (Leslie Nielsen), so although they look like Delta Force, they fight more like Keystone Kops. The squad of ninjas bumbling around southern California stick out like so many sore thumbs. "Gee, those camouflage uniforms sure give them an uncanny ability to blend chameleon-like into their surroundings," observes Rob Schneider, in an hilarious turn as Iggy, Johnny and Adam's surfing-challenged classmate. Chi overthrew Johnny and Adam's biological father, the king of Patusan, many years earlier, and now seeks to murder the two princes. Upon learning of their destiny from the mysterious, one-eyed Zatch (Ernie Reyes, Sr.), the boys return to Patusan to overthrow Chi and claim their throne. Johnny discovers love and his warrior heritage. Adam learns he is a seer, who can fortell the future (by peering into the screen of his Sega Game Gear.)Reyes, Jr., is more than just an accomplished martial artist and owner of some of the best upper-body musculature ever captured on film. He also gives a performance full of charm, romance, innocence, youthful exuberance, and a delightful gift for physical comedy. He does many of the kung fu scenes in a state of bewilderment, as his moves are directed by his warrior ancestors. (This is surely a lot harder than it looks.) Cowan's comic timing is impeccable. (When Zatch informs him that a certain remote jungle village is the home of a great holy man, Adam deadpans, "Wow, then I gotta get a T-shirt.")Schneider is memorable as Iggy, the comic sidekick, commenting drolly on the proceedings ("The Mee Grob Hilton, serving strange things in shells since 1207.") and insisting, hilariously, that it is acutally he, and not Johnny, who is the deposed prince imbued with supernatural powers. It is refreshing to see a film where the Asian guy is the romantic lead and the white guy is the sidekick. (This was years before Shanghai Noon, remember.)Tone Loc adds another comic dimension as Lieutenant Spence, an LAPD detective who follows the boys to Patusan. When knocked to the ground and surrounded by Patusani soldiers wielding automatic weapons, the unarmed Loc gamely displays his badge and says, "LAPD! Freeze, punks!!" It gets him nowhere, but give him 10 out of 10 for chutzpah. Reyes, Sr., as Zatch, the one-eyed, deadly serious Patusani royalist, evokes laughter by his stony-faced refusal to be amused by the absurdity of the proceedings. (The Zatch-eye view through a pair of binoculars is one of the film's best visual jokes.)The main players are not only amusing as individuals, but play off against each other with some hilarious ensemble work, such as the bit where our heroes are captured by and escape from Chi's soldiers, and the unforgettable "Money can't buy knives" sequence.Unfortunately, the one sour comic note is the miscasting of Nielsen as Colonel Chi. Nielsen does his best Frank Drebben, but he's just too darn lovable to accept as a ruthless Third World dictator.In spite of this one shortcoming, Surf Ninjas maintains a deft comic balance as it rides wave after wave of comic invention. And you will never again hear the Beach Boys' classic "Barbara Ann" in the same way. Okay, so you don't have to tell the whole world you bought a movie called Surf Ninjas. Just get it, watch it in private, but make sure no one's close enough to hear you laughing. And when you're finished, lock it away in a strongbox labeled "Guilty Pleasures.""
Silly but fun!
Jessica R. Sturgill | CO | 05/24/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I love this movie, but it is silly. Moto-surfing, Patusan aka. Port-a-san "eww, I'd give up the throne," and Rob Shnider playing their "scottish uncle" in a wheelchair always makes me laugh. True many people think it's stupid, and that's because the humor is. Trust me, if you like "Dude, Where's my Car?" and "Baseketball" then you'll love this movie like I do. If not, your loss. For those who hate movies like this, go watch a foreign film and leave the great silly movies to those who can appreciate them."
Surf's up! Time to save the world!
Joseph Ellis | Ohio | 12/14/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is a kid's action bonanza! And also for any living being who appreciates TRUE art. How anyone could not absolutely love this movie is certainly BEYOND me. It has an all-star cast, including Ernie Reyes, Jr., Leslie Neilson (half man, half machine, all bad), and of course, the greatest actor of all time, Rob Schneider. This movie has everything! Action! Adventure! Romance! Comedy! Drama! Video games! Countless eye patch jokes!! Don't let this diamond in the rough of kid's ninja movies slip through your fingers!! You will regret it in the afterlife if you do!"
collegeguy | santa barbara, CA, usa | 03/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film is bad, of course, but a good kind of bad. this movie was part of my childhood and it really brings me back. i especially like the kid in this film. is he still alive? if so that would be great."
Great for the kids...ho-hum for the adults who love them.
Joachim Baecker | Minneapolis, MN USA | 01/03/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Well, if for no other reason, buy this DVD because I play drums on the song that covers the opening credits. Yes, that was over 10 years ago, and I still get to point at the screen and say "That's me on drums!" whenever I watch it. (Which is about every 3 years or so.)It's a fun movie for kids, but the adults will find it rather dull, especially in comparison to today's kid's movies that are loaded with well-concealed adult humor and references. Not to mention the gaping holes in the plot. (You could drive a Hummer through these babies.)But heck, you'll enjoy the opening song."