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Review: COMMANDO NINJA (2018)

Retro films are a dime a dozen lately. Everyone seems to be cashing in on nostalgia for the over the top action and horror films of the ’80s. There have been some really excellent ones, like the criminally underappreciated Plan B and Streets Of Vengeance, and a lot of stuff we’d all rather forget. Now we have Benjamin Combes’ Commando Ninja, which category does it fall into?

Kicking off with a great parody of the Carlco logo, Commando Ninja takes us right to Vietnam and turns what looks like the setup for a Missing In Action sequel into a hybrid of Predator and Ninja Mission. It only gets wilder from there.

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Surviving the ambush and a failed marriage, John Hunter (Eric Carlesi) lives in the Canadian wilderness. Fellow survivor Leeroy Hopkins (Philippe Allier), complete with a bionic arm, turns up to deliver some good news, his ex-wife is dead. He also has bad news, the killers took his young daughter. When a combined Air Force/FBI sting goes wrong, Hopkins is killed. John is going to have to go it alone if he ever wants to see his daughter (Anaëlle Rincent as a child, Charlotte Poncin as an adult)again. Go where? Into the “future” of 1998, complete with references to Dr. Who and Turbo Kid.

And the bad guys have fatally underestimated their foe. John Hunter isn’t just a commando or a ninja, he’s a hybrid. He’s the Commando Ninja.

Shot in of all places France, Commando Ninja does a great job of replicating the jungles of Vietnam, the streets of Los Angeles and the mythical Central American country of Val Verde. The film recreates the jungles and LA. so well I thought it was filmed in Southern California while I was watching it. But that is the least of the film’s accomplishments.

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Commando Ninja rides a very fine line between homage and parody. We have another appearance by the Nintendo Power Glove, (see HOW TO SAVE US and GUERRILLA). As well as an extended training montage and a Highlander reference. There are, of course, incredibly non-PC jokes as well. However, some authentic to the time racial jokes feel a bit cringe-worthy now. But then, Commando Ninja spoofs the 80s while still being true to the films it’s spoofing. So perhaps including them was unavoidable.

The action scenes feel real and authentic. With the exception of the raptor gag near the start of the film and some obvious CGI blood splatter, it stays mostly true to the 80s vibe.

Commando Ninja is a fun ride. And since it’s free on YouTube, why not check it out.

YouTube video
YouTube video
Full Film
Our Score

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