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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
3 Ninjas Kick Back (1994)

Tum-Tum: I just wish I was home. I want to see mom and dad. I want to be in my own house. I want to eat a real cheeseburger with real cheese!
Colt: I knew this would come around to food.

- J. Evan Bonifant, Max Elliot Slade

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: August 24, 2001

Stars: Max Elliot Slade, Sean Fox, J. Evan Bonifant
Other Stars: Victor Wong, Caroline Junko King
Director: Charles T. Kanganis

MPAA Rating: PG for (martial arts action and some mild language)
Run Time: 01h:33m:22s
Release Date: August 07, 2001
UPC: 043396059832
Genre: action

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

In my review of the last 3 Ninjas film, 3 Ninjas Knuckle Up, I noted that the situations the kids got into seemed a bit violent and intense for a children's film (it was even rated PG-13). 3 Ninjas Kick Back is more what you'd expect from this sort of series. This time, the kids are never in any real danger, and the rating is a family-friendly PG. Though it was released as the second film in the series, it was actually produced after Knuckle Up. The kids were already aging noticeably in that film, and thus, two of them were recast for this sequel. The only one who remained was fan-favorite Max Elliot Slade, playing Colt, and he takes center stage here. The other newcomers, J. Evan Bonifant and Sean Fox, give appealing performances, even if they don't show a lot of talent, per se.

The three boys are again vacationing with their Grandpa (Wong), when he tells them he has to go to China to preside over a ninja tournament. He will award the winner an ancient dagger, referred to in legends as the key to untold treasures. The boys want to go, but they have to stay home to win the little league championship (they are facing off against the team that cheats, marking the 999th film to use this plot device). Borrowing a large chunk of story from Karate Kid II, an old rival of Grandpa's, once his best friend, also seeks the dagger, and he hires his bumbling nephews to steal it. They end up running into the boys, who decide they must travel to Japan anyway to help their Grandpa. Gee, do you think they can save the dagger AND make it back in time to win the big game?

3N:KB is so clichÈd, I am tempted to call it quaint. It's the kind of movie where one of the boys enters a ninja tournament, boasting of his skill, and is then defeated, only to have his opponent remove a hood to reveal... a long, flowing head of hair! Yes, girls beating up boys, willy-nilly! This particular girl, Miyo (King), is somehow involved in the dagger plot, but mostly she's there to provide "funny" bits, like the madcap, wildly original training montage, where she teaches the boys martial arts, and they teach her baseball. Slapstick at its finest (at least since the release of The Mighty Ducks). It's the kind of movie where the characters can be summed up in one word. Colt, he's rebellious. Rocky, he's responsible. Tum Tum, he eats. Complex!

The violence is mostly of the Home Alone variety, and at least this time there aren't countless sequences of adults trying to kill the children. There's also a whole lot more character development amidst all the kung-fu grips and karate chops, as we actually learn the characters' real names. Plus, an entertaining subplot involving parents! Which is what kids want in their ninja movies. Mom and Dad.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyesno

Image Transfer Review: The image on this disc is not quite as strong as that on its sequel, but it still looks very clean. Colors generally look good, but again, they seem a bit dull in some scenes. The black level is good, but there is some slight grain in the darker scenes. I didn't see any edge-enhancement or artifacting, but there was a bit of interlace shimmer on complex patterns, which many find distracting.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Spanish, French, Portugueseyes

Audio Transfer Review: A pretty standard mix, albeit one with a somewhat narrow front soundstage. All the action, save a bit of the score, is anchored in the front mains. There aren't a lot of heavy action scenes, but there are some directional effects here and there. Most importantly, everything has been mixed well, and the dialogue is easily understood.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese, Thai with remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Roughnecks: Starship Troopers, Buddy, The Karate Kid, Ghostbusters, Hook, Jumanji
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Although we don't get the trailer for 3 Ninjas, we do get a bushel of other family films: Buddy, The Karate Kid, Ghostbusters, and Hook.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

3 Ninjas Kick Back won't win any awards in the originality department, as it is comprised mostly of parts stolen from older, more successful films; somehow, I don't think most kids will mind. It's fun, filled with Home Alone humor and Ninja Turtle action, appropriate for most kids aged five and up.


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