In Yakmala, we occasionally run into something where we have to debate whether or not what we just watched actually qualifies as a movie. Kindergarten Ninja makes those things look good.
Tagline: Where Discipline Becomes A Code Of Honour
More Accurate Tagline: I can think of two things wrong with that title.
Guilty Party: Kindergarten Ninja was made with the assistance of D.A.R.E., which if you didn’t grow up in the ‘80s, is an acronym for Drug Abuse Resistance Education. This was a program designed to keep kids off drugs and provide stoners with suitably ironic t-shirts to wear. In more irony, you’d need some hard drugs to make this watchable. I’m not even talking about normal shit like weed, or coke, or PCP. I’m talking about that weird stuff you can only get in Russia, that’s made out of whale testicles that makes your asshole flip itself inside-out and everything look like Keith Olbermann singing Carmina Burana while his face turns into snakes.
Synopsis: Before we go any further, I need to point out that the main character’s name is Blade Steel. Yep. That means that his name is officially more ridiculous than Blade Rogers, the parody name of a porn star in a Kids in the Hall sketch.
Right, so Blade Steel is a football player, and supposedly a really good one. Despite this, he lives in a shitty apartment and can only seem to afford to take his numerous dates to fast food restaurants for french fries.
After getting pulled over for an illegal U-turn and offering the traffic cop some beer, it’s time for heaven to get involved. That’s not a joke. The movie cuts to an idyllic garden with a helpful “HEAVEN” on the screen, which to be fair, is a better try than we’ve seen previously. It looks like some of the main denizens are Charlie Chaplin, George Washington, Elvis Presley. and, most importantly to the plot, Bruce Lee. The actor accomplishes the difficult task of being Bruce Lee by neither looking nor sounding like him, and just being filmed from behind or the neck down, a technique pioneered by auteurs in the field of terrible cinema.
God — who looks more like an aging dentist who thinks he looks like Tom Selleck — sends Bruce down as a spirit guide to rehabilitate Blade Steel in the best way possible: by teaching him how to beat the living shit out of everyone. Blade Steel accepts that he has a ghost Bruce Lee now pretty quickly, but then Bruce pawns his responsibilities on his mortal student Master Chosen One, a blind kung fu expert. Bruce is now done with the movie, making this the first time someone ever cared so little about becoming an angel they subcontracted it out. Imagine if instead of helping George Bailey, Clarence just picked up a day laborer at Home Depot? That’s basically what’s going on here.
Blade Steel also starts working at a place that the movie can’t decide if it’s a school or community center, but the one thing it’s definitely not is a kindergarten. He starts hitting on Linda, the one teacher the place has. Meanwhile, a new mafia, led by Hector Machete, uses local kids to sell this new designer drug “buzz” to other local kids.
Blade Steel decides to become a superhero, but his costume consists of mom jeans, a light windbreaker, and a receding football hairline. He and Master Chosen One beat up Hector’s guys. For some reason, Hector never remembers that as a crime boss, he should have access to at least one gun. Nah, if karate is good enough for the heroes, it’s good enough for Hector Machete.
Then, a series of titles in the end let us know how everyone ended up. In a weird twist, Linda breaks up with Blade Steel. I guess that’s their little nod to realism or something.
Life-Changing Subtext: The best way to deal with organized crime is hand-to-hand combat.
Defining Quote: “Call me Blade.” No, I will not, sir. That’s a ridiculous name and it demeans us both.
Standout Performance: During the climactic battle when Blade Steel and Master Chosen One infiltrate Hector Machete’s warehouse, Blade comes upon a nameless drug enforcer. Blade gets him in his flawless technique of “headlock, then punches in the gut until he vomits up his own gall bladder.” The best part is after each punch, the drug enforcer utters a little, defeated “Oh no!” It’s funny the first time, but like Sideshow Bob and the rakes, it keeps getting funnier.
What’s Wrong: Look, if you’re going to call your fucking movie Kindergarten Ninja, there better be a ninja in kindergarten, a kindergarten-aged ninja, or either a kindergarten or a ninja somewhere in this goddamn thing.
Flash of Competence: I’m pretty sure most of the people in the movie have at least taken karate down at the Y. There’s not a lot of awkward shin-kicking in this one.
Best Scenes: We open with Robert Maginnis, the San Leandro Police Chief introducing the story. The performance is positively Grinterian, complete with frequent glances down at his desk, where he’s got his lines written.
At one point, we get the hint that there might be some high-level corruption supporting Hector Machete and his Buzz Empire. The film accomplishes this with a little light racism and a title appearing on screen, showing us “Mayor Crookalini.” Don’t worry. At no point does Mayor Crookalini get his comeuppance, but then again, the end of the movie threatens us with a sequel. Maybe they were saving up. Or maybe they were developing the rich Kindergarten Ninja mythology.
Transcendent Moment: It takes about forty minutes into this thing before you realize the creators thought this was a comedy. I can only assume their senses of humor were murdered in a tear-stained warehouse for the jaded amusements of a handful of wealthy perverts. This whole thing is about as funny as a kitten holocaust.
When Blade Steel finally gets Linda to go out with him, he asks her to Clark’s by the Bay, a restaurant that looks a bit like a hotel banquet hall where you took Nana to learn all about those great time shares. As Blade Steel asks Linda to this place and starts talking it up (they must have great french fries at reasonable prices), the phone number of the restaurant scrolls by at the bottom of the screen. I hope your soul was worth the price, Clark’s by the Bay.
Kindergarten Ninja is not for the bad movie dilettante. This is something to seek out only after the normal kinds of bad movies lost their thrill. It’s basically the Buzz of terrible cinema, so maybe they were trying to tell us something the whole time.