Sometimes you have to adjust expectations. Why bring standards you use for "Citizen Kane" crashing down on "The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant"? So, while "Ninja Turf" (citywide) is not exactly a good movie--most of it is pretty bad by any reasonable criteria--you can at least grant it the merit of being the most interesting low-budget, L.A.-based, teen-age Ninja movie around now.
Director Richard Park, writer Simon Blake Hong and co-producers/co-stars Jun Chong and Phillip Rhee are combining two genres here--the Bruce Lee-style martial-arts epic and the James Dean-style drama of alienated juvenile delinquency. The mix doesn't jibe, and often sinks to levels of gulping absurdity.
It's hard to become enmeshed in the psychological knots of characters who, at any second, will be required to kick, slice and chop-sock up to 50 knife-wielding, blood-crazed foes. But there's something sympathetic about the attempt. Hong packs a lot into his script--including a lot you wish he'd left out--and once in a while, Park comes up with unusual staging, such as the Ninja battle set in an abandoned abstract art gallery.
As for Chong and Rhee, they swagger around likably; Chong whirls, kicks and grunts with panache. In true Hong Kong fashion, there are lots of rumbles here (four or five separate gangs are listed in the credits), usually involving odds of 10-to-1, or at best, 4-to-2.