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Tongan Ninja

A dopey martial arts student from Tonga is sent to New Zealand to protect a Chinese restaurant in "Tongan Ninja," a juvenile slice of kung-phooey that aims to be a Down Under parody of Bruce Lee's 1972 "The Way of the Dragon."

With:
With: Sam Manu, Jemaine Clement, Linda Tseng, Ray Bon Kan, David Fane.

A dopey martial arts student from Tonga is sent to New Zealand to protect a Chinese restaurant in “Tongan Ninja,” a juvenile slice of kung-phooey that aims to be a Down Under parody of Bruce Lee’s 1972 “The Way of the Dragon.” Amateur-night humor and inept acting make this a long haul after the joke wears off in the first few minutes, though the pic could have a small cult career offshore revoiced in local languages by well-known names.

After studying martial arts on a Pacific island under a Japanese master, Sione (Sam Manu) is dispatched to Wellington, where the eatery-owning uncle of Miss Lee (Linda Tseng) is being harassed by moneylenders. Between facing off against computer-game characters like Knife Man and Gun Man, Sione also has an old boyhood enemy, Marvin (co-scripter Jemaine Clement), to deal with. Production values are bottom-end, direction by first-timer Jason Stutter uninspired, and Manu’s goofy perf laborious. Fight scenes are (perhaps deliberately) clunky.

Tongan Ninja

New Zealand

Production: A Magna Pacific release of a Midnight Films presentation, in association with Showtime Australia, of a Tommy Ringo Intl. production. (International sales: New Zealand Film Commission, Wellington.) Produced by Andrew Calder, Jason Stutter. Executive producer, Sue Rogers. Directed by Jason Stutter. Screenplay, Stutter, Jemaine Clement.

Crew: Camera (color), Stutter; editors, Jonathan Woodford-Robinson, Stutter; music, Plan 9 (David Donaldson, Steve Roche). Reviewed at Puchon Intl. Fantastic Film Festival, South Korea, July 14, 2003. Running time: 82 MIN.

With: With: Sam Manu, Jemaine Clement, Linda Tseng, Ray Bon Kan, David Fane.

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