Press Release – New Zealand Film Archive
Coming up at the Film Archive: the cult comedy classic, Tongan Ninja (2003). He comes from the mighty Kingdom of Tonga (pop: 105,600, principal export: baby squash). He is trained in the ancient art of ninjitsu. He is, unsurprisingly, Tongan Ninja, and now his story can be told.
Ever since his father was eaten by a fish, Sione (Sam Manu) was brought up to follow the way of the ninja. Now he must journey toward his greatest challenge and defend the beautiful Miss Lee and her restaurant from Mr Big and the Syndicate.
These men will stop at nothing to get their hands on an ethnic hospitality establishment servicing the Wellington central business district. Only his fists and his long years of training in Tonga will help him face Gun Man (he’s good with guns), Knife Man (good with knives), Henchman (good with henches), Chef Guy (you get the idea) and Asian Sidekick. Finally, he must confront his ultimate nemesis – Action Fighter (played by Jermaine Clement).
Will love, and a great deal of physical violence, triumph in the end? You work it out.
Shot in stunning yet convenient Wellington locations, Tongan Ninja features exciting new sound and special effects techniques designed to fool the extremely gullible into thinking it was done for real.
Tongan Ninja is something special, something different, something that gives the phrase “this film is yet to be classified” a disturbing new meaning. People who love musicals, people who like sophisticated comedy, devotees of the best Hong Kong action films, foley artists, all will want to corner the makers of Tongan Ninja in a darkened alley and ask “Why?” Tongan Ninja – the film you didn’t know you wanted, until you wanted it.
“Tongan Ninja [is] a comedy cult classic befitting a living legend that will live long after all other living legends have died. As they say: it’s a film that will touch your heart… after it’s finished with your teeth, spleen and kneecaps. It’s the film you didn’t know you wanted to see, until you wanted to see it. Tongan Ninja – directed by Jason Stutter and filmed almost entirely in a few blocks around central Wellington – is possibly one of the dumbest, funniest local films ever since … well, possibly just ever… As a parody of the badly dubbed kung fu films of the 70s it works on every level. It has embarrassingly cheap ‘special effects’, sudden and unexpected musical numbers, flashbacks and dream sequences, a fort guarded by an army of ninjas and characters called Mr Big, Asian Sidekick and Knife Man. It also has hilarious dialogue… There is much subtle Pacifika humour alongside the broad-brush parody of Bruce Lee movies.” — Graham Reid, Time Out, 2 October 2004
Tongan Ninja will screen at the Film Archive, Wellington, at 7pm Wednesday through Saturday, February 27 – March 2.