Directed by Dennis Dugan
Cast: Chris Farley, Billy Connolly, Nathaniel Parker, Nicolette Sheridan, Robin Shou, Chris Rock
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Estimated Worldwide Gross: $37,639,029
Plot: When a young American boy, washes ashore near a village populated by skilled Japanese warriors, they raise the child as one of them and instruct him in the ways of ninjitsu. Unfortunately, he grows up to be the overweight & inept but very enthusiastic, Haru (Chris Farley), who remains intent on becoming a real ninja. Haru's first assignment - protecting a beautiful woman from California - doesn't go smoothly, since he's both unco-ordinated and completely unaccustomed to Western culture.
*This review may contain spoilers*
'Silly, Stupid, Farcical..... Which Partly Sums Up My Enjoyment Of This Movie'
So we've had Beverly Hills Cop 1, 2 & 3, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Down & Out In Beverly Hills, it was only a matter of time that we had a martial arts comedy joining this line-up, but none of us saw it coming when it starred Saturday Night Live's then latest comedic prodigy, Chris Farley playing a fat ninja.
The 1990s was an interesting decade for comedy movies, with particular emphasis placed on so-called low brow, dumb and farce comedies that involve stupid and sillier routines, gags, banter, humour and slapstick goodness. With characters doing and having stupid - yet funny things happening to them. Examples of these types of movies include Dumb & Dumber, Tommy Boy and Fathers' Day to name but a few. The humour is so silly and dumb & buffoonish, even little kiddies will find it just as amusing as the adults.
Beverly Hills Ninja was yet another comedy film that deserves to be mentioned alongside those particular 3 films and of which fits that criteria, perfectly. It was also another in the line of offerings by the late Chris Farley whose career was cut short, due to his unfortunate death. Looking at the film's tagline that reads 'Kung Fool', he surely was that in the movie! & more besides.
It's more so a parody of martial arts movies, in particular by satirising American martial arts movies, which were relatively known during the 1980s and 1990s U.S movie industry. If I were to categorise this film, I would say it falls between being slapstick and parody.
Raised amongst other ninjas after being found washed ashore as an orphan, Haru grows up into an overweight ninja and despite his weight, it doesn't deter him in his quest to become a fully fledged martial arts machine. Along the way, he has to protect a young woman from some bad guys, as well as kick ass - even if it means getting his ass kicked too! This of which happens a great deal. Despite being aptly named the 'great White ninja', Haru is anything but great, but rather he is inept, cumbersome, is a total cock-up & manages to get himself injured or hurt in the process.
Chris Farley is hysterical throughout this film, and in Tommy Boy and Black Sheep, one can see the potential he had left unfulfilled as a comedic actor. He could have been the next in line to Jim Carrey and Adam Sandler, in terms of in-yer-face comedy.
Like with all farce comedies, whilst the plot remains stale and thin and doesn't serve much of a purpose, it's the silly antics and gags within the film that drives the narrative forward. & these are very, very funny, ranging from Haru being flung high from a tree to another building.... to working in a sushi restaurant in disguise as a chef & beating up bad guys with fish! And because this film is centered around Chris Farley that all of the humourous and comedic scenes that occur, revolve around and involve himself. Sure enough we are laughing at him because of his bumbling antics and when he messes up very easily, and yet it is also for this reason why Beverly Hills Ninja is so damn funny. The ninja gimmick works well in this film too, as Farley plays someone of whom we are supposed to root for: the (unlikely) hero, the good guy, but also in laughing with, alongside and at him as well because he is not so perfect, yet he tries his utmost best.
Comedians turned actors have different ways of making us laugh: and their brand of humour is key as to whether or not we find what they say and do amusing. Especially in a particular role where they are expected to be more wacky, over-the-top, even during the physical comedy aspects. Chris Farley is an embodiment of this.
Yes the bad guys are portrayed as stereotypical moving targets and Nicolette Sheridan's sole purpose is to be the film's eye candy & is therefore very one note-ish - yet as this is nothing more than a farce and dumb comedy, this is to be expected. & I shall let that pass because that is what Beverly Hills Ninja tries to be and accomplishes, and nothing more.
There is one thing I wished could have been a lot better: & that is Chris Rock, in that his role here was way too small and that he doesn't get much of a chance in being funny, which is indeed a shame, because he is a very funny, if at times brash, stand-up comedian. This should've been a good vehicle for him to unleash his humorous banter and wisecracks, in addition to being more involved with some of the action scenes.
These types of comedy films will never appeal to stuffy, high end movie critics who abhor them, and thus, they will also dish out low ratings and negative reviews. But for people like myself who enjoy a good laugh and don't mind the silliness and absurdity of it, as long as we find it amusing and entertaining, we don't care what they say and think.
Silly, stupid, farcical, Beverly Hills Ninja is full of laughs galore.
Recommended for those who are looking for a right laugh, but of whom don't care about the plot, nor critical reviews. If you enjoyed Dumb and Dumber and other farce comedies, you'll be entertained by the dumb-foolery of Farley's shenanigans.