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NORWEGIAN NINJA
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Reviewed by: Zombie Boy

Directed by: Thomas Cappelen Malling

Starring:
Mads Ousdal
Jon Řigarden
Trond-Viggo Torgersen

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
What do you do when a rogue government agency is plotting terrorist attacks against its own country in order to drum up hatred for Communism? You call in the ninjas. Duh.
Is it good movie?
Arne Treholt was a Norwegian diplomat in the 80’s, during the height of the Cold War, who was arrested, tried, and sentenced to 20-years in prison for treason and espionage. If that wasn’t controversial enough, less than a decade later he was pardoned. An outcry for the case to be reopened lasted for around 15-years, until recently it was decided that it would not be looked into again. Meanwhile there are factions claiming his innocence, and that the government fabricated all the evidence against him, and others decrying his guilt. There are several books about the subject, both for and against, and it is a very interesting case.

However, what is even more interesting is writer/director Thomas Cappelen Malling’s revisionist history, positing that Treholt was in fact the leader of a covert group of ninjas working directly for the King, fighting for the Norwegian way of life. When Treholt discovers that a rogue UN-backed group called Stay Behind has been performing terrorist acts in their various countries in order the keep people hating on Communism and Russia in general, he is incensed and offended to find a branch operating in his beloved home country, ready, willing, and able to kill innocent Norwegians for “the greater good.” The Ninja Force then sets their members in motion to foil Stay Behind by any means necessary, which includes pacifying Communist nations to stave off a war of more than just words, thus opening Treholt up to being framed for treason and espionage.

NORWEGIAN NINJA is awesome, goofy fun. I am sure to Norwegians it is either even more amusing, or damned offensive, depending on which side of the Treholt debate they’re on, but us Westerners can just sit back and enjoy a silly movie about blonde-haired, blue-eyed ninjas. But while the film’s tongue is so firmly in its cheek it threatens to pierce through the side (the ninja compound is protecting by a feng shui force-field, for instance), the ninja antics in the film are actually pretty well done. Treholt disappears and materializes in frequent puffs of smoke, and his whole lot engage in some pretty robust kung-fu action.

As to the film itself, the photography is bleached out to give the whole affair a retro feel, which smacks more of the 70’s than the 80’s, but is still an effective technique. Most of the SFX are low-tech, but that also goes to giving the film a retro feel. The miniatures and planes hanging from visible wires add to the fun of the film, and certain instances of such reminded me of Rob Stefaniuk’s SUCK, another film I really enjoyed. I keep using the word fun, but that’s the best way to sum up this film: it’s just plain fun.
Video / Audio
Video: Widescreen, and bleached out to look like it was actually produced in the 80’s.

Audio: Two Norwegian tracks, 5.1 Surround and 2.0 Stereo, respectively, and optional English subtitles.
The Extras
Deleted Scenes: This is a collection of three scenes, all interesting, and rather short. Not sure why they were cut, but the movie doesn’t much suffer from their exclusion.

Bonus Scenes: These six bonus scenes are more like featurettes, a hodge-podge of behind the scenes footage, SFX pieces, and bloopers. My favorite selection from these scenes is definitely the one entitled Wingsuits, as it shows that when two characters dive off a cliff and fly down to the ground in their wingsuits, it wasn’t an effect: it was real! Worth the price of the DVD there alone, in my opinion.

Featurettes: There are six featurettes here dealing with green screen effects, model effects, forced perspective effects, fight choreography, and the film’s score. They’re all pretty short, but it’s really interesting to see how they put this quirky film together. There is also a great interview with the director, producer, and star.

Promos: This is a comprehensive collection of promos, containing the film’s trailer, three teasers, two TV spots, and even a music video for a remix of the film’s theme song.
Last Call
This is a really fun, quirky movie blending historical facts with fanciful notions, told in the irreverent way particular to the Norse. There is ninja action, explosions, espionage, and even underwater chase scenes. Plus, the DVD is jam-packed with special features. It is well worth a place on your DVD shelf. If only it had a commentary…
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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