WITH NINJA ASSASSIN in theaters this week (our review is here), let's visit with our friend the ninja, who comes in just behind "zombies" and just ahead of "pirates" when it comes to overplayed pop culture tropes.
Azumi (2003)—Just as Ninja Assassin stars South Korean pop star Rain, Azumi stars Japanese pop star Aya Ueto. Do they play convincing ninjas? Good question! The answer is that it doesn't matter, because both of them are prettier than you and looks are everything.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)—Reminder: You just can never outrace cultural obsolescence, no matter how fast your Turtle Van goes.
Beverly Hills Ninja (1997)—You know how whenever Chris Farley's name comes up people get all sad and mention his movies and sketches that made them laugh? No one ever mentions Beverly Hills Ninja.
Ask a Ninja (2005)—This guy was internet famous a few years ago. Remember him? No? Ah, the glories of internet fame.
The Last Samurai (2003)—Most of this movie is Tom Cruise acting all mopey, but there is one really badass scene when ninjas go crazy on a village. Here's why I should work in Hollywood: "Eff this," I'd say, throwing The Last Samurai's script over my shoulder. "Try this," I'd say, handing Tom Cruise a Post-it on which I had written the words "The First Ninja."
3 Ninjas (1992)—This film features a ninja named "Tum Tum." I call bullshit.
"Body Movin'" (1998)—Adam Yauch's Beastie Boys video riffs on Mario Bava's 1968 film Danger: Diabolik, and contains, in this order, a castle, a ninja thief, a swordfight, a severed head, a catapult, a car chase, a murdering bird, an underground lair, and a fondue dinner. It is almost exactly like my life.
Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers (1993)—If gay ninjas were allowed to express their individuality through their clothing, this is what would happen.
Speed Racer (2008)—"Was that a ninja?" asks Christina Ricci. "More like a non-ja," John Goodman snorts. "Terrible what passes for a ninja these days." "Cool beans!" Ricci says. I am making none of this up.