9 1/2 NINJAS attempts to parody both martial arts films and Adrian Lyne's succes de scandale 9 1/2 WEEKS. It's a strange concept, and one that clearly doesn't work.
When Lisa Thorne (Andee Gray) and Joe Vogue (Michael Phenicie) oppose developer Arnold Gruber's (Robert Fieldsteel) plans to take over their apartment complexes, the two become targets of ninja assassins. Joe, a ninja himself, falls in love with Lisa while teaching her self-defense. After Lisa is
kidnapped by the assassins, however, Joe must use all his skill to fight Gruber and rescue her.
These days, it seems only Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker, the men behind AIRPLANE! and THE NAKED GUN, can pull off this sort of spoof. 9 1/2 NINJAS begins well, with the young Joe learning his trade from a blind ninja master who spouts an incomprehensible philosophy. The focus soon
shifts, however, to dumb blonde Lisa. When a homeless man begs for food, she pulls an entire dinner on a tray out of her purse. Later, at a deli, Lisa meets Joe as she eats a sandwich made out of a live chicken. This is what passes for humor in the movie.
The plot rolls in on a tide of silliness: Joe beats Arnold at a game of marbles; Arnold interviews different kinds of ninjas, including a ninja turtle, a ninja in drag, and a ninja union representative; at Arnold's estate, Joe dances with the broker on a big Monopoly game board, which instead
reads "Conopoly"; and Lisa's ninja meditation is interrupted when flies buzz around her head.
The similarities to 9 1/2 WEEKS don't make much sense. Although Joe tries to debase Lisa, his efforts are unsuccessful. The sensual food scene between Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger turns into the bizarre spectacle of Joe showering Lisa with baby food. And the film's big "erotic" scenes involve
Lisa posing provocatively in various lingerie outfits and, later, baring her breasts. It's not funny or sexy. The recent HOT SHOTS!, directed by Abrahams, includes a brief parody of 9 1/2 WEEKS that's far funnier than anything in this film.
As Joe, Phenicie does little but smirk. Meanwhile, Gray is an offensive stereotype of the sweet bimbo who chatters and giggles uncontrollably. Throughout the movie, Gray's smile is so wide that it's more like a grimace. Fieldsteel's broad take on the villain is a disaster--a cartoonish, pop-eyed
portrayal of a man determined to gobble up real estate. Another annoying character is Joe's mother Gladys (Magda Harout), a female ninja who alternately babies her son and cracks him in the nuts (with that utterly predictable knee-to-groin crunch we've seen ad naseam).
The film's most unbearable moments, however, involve Joe's childhood toy, a sassy handpuppet named Mr. Ninja who embarasses Joe constantly with his lewd comments about Lisa. Paul Jabara, the voice of the puppet, has a nasal, Don Rickles-like delivery that would be hard to take even if the jokes
The movie's only chuckles come from a flashback sequence about Joe's ex-girlfriend Zelda (Sharon Lee Jones), a ballerina whose weight balloons out of control. The make-up, which makes Zelda look like an oversized cabbage patch doll, is used to good comic effect. Unfortunately, the rest of 9 1/2
NINJAS proves that there's nothing worse than a comedy that falls flat. (Violence, sexual situations, nudity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1991
- Rating: R
- Review: 9 1/2 NINJAS attempts to parody both martial arts films and Adrian Lyne's succes de scandale 9 1/2 WEEKS. It's a strange concept, and one that clearly doesn't work. When Lisa Thorne (Andee Gray) and Joe Vogue (Michael Phenicie) oppose developer Arnold Gr… (more)