Three Ninjas

1992 Directed by Jon Turteltaub. Starring Victor Wong, Michael Treanor, Max Elliott Slade, Chad Power, Rand Kingsley, Alan Mcrae.

REVIEWED By Pamela Bruce, Fri., Aug. 14, 1992

Preceded by the humorous animated short Petal to the Metal (which features the screen debut of Disney's newest toon star, the bumbling bobcat Bonkers), 3 Ninjas is long on promises of delivering rousing, satisfying family entertainment with a ninja flavor, yet it's a blatant lack of originality which ultimately undermines the film's actual payoff. The first third of the narrative has a telltale essence evoking The Karate Kid -- complete with a Sixtyish Japanese grandfather/martial arts mentor (Wong) and three, as opposed to one, young proteges (Treanor, Slade, and Power). Meanwhile, a flimsy plot tries vainly to pull itself into coherent shape involving the boys' father -- an FBI agent (McRae) -- who is hot on the heels of yet another sleazy, international-thug-in-an-Armani-suit-and-ponytail (Kingsley). A big (and I do mean big) suspension of disbelief is in order when it turns out that Grandpa is a former ninja master of -- you guessed it -- the very same criminal that Agent Dad is extensively pursuing. Soon everything lapses into a second-rate Home Alone when a trio of stumbling, bumbling surfer dudes are sent to kidnap the boys. Don't count on an abundance of solid ninja action to be the film's saving grace, either, for it's few and far between. 3 Ninjas is basically harmless, but it's not entertaining enough to fully engage adults or the under-12 set -- especially once the popcorn and sodas have been polished-off. The worst thing is you can almost bet that an executive at Touchstone has already put the wheels in motion for a sequel to bloat an industry that is already chock-full of uninspiring films such as this one.

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More Jon Turteltaub Films
Last Vegas
Did the Social Security set finally get their The Hangover?

Marjorie Baumgarten, Nov. 1, 2013

The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Nicolas Cage plays a master sorcerer who selects a seemingly average guy to become his protégé and save New York City from his arch-nemesis.

Marjorie Baumgarten, July 16, 2010

More by Pamela Bruce
This New Age tone poem captures images from 24 countries that transcend geographical and language barriers.

Dec. 17, 1993

Peking Opera Blues
Deception and betrayal in culture and politics take center stage in this splendid narrative that shifts between farce and violence, suspense and emotionality.

April 23, 1993


Three Ninjas, Jon Turteltaub, Victor Wong, Michael Treanor, Max Elliott Slade, Chad Power, Rand Kingsley, Alan Mcrae

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