From the twisted mind of Takashi Miike comes an insane new kids’ flick about a feuding ninja school – a riotous comedy that easily earns all three exclamation points in its title. Little Rantaro comes from a long line of low-ranking ninjas, so when the time comes to leave the family farm to enter ninja school himself he is determined to study hard. Yet despite their dedication in star-throwing, explosives, and rock-climbing, Rantaro’s first year class is so inept that the headmaster declares an early summer vacation and sends them all home.
But the youngsters will get to earn their stars yet – after being challenged by a rival clan, the first-years must race to ring the bell at a mountaintop temple to save the school. Brilliant in its excess and bursting with joyous energy from the infectious young cast, the film is loaded with non-stop visual gags, dopey villains, adorable ninja trainees, and one very informative “friendly ninja trivia commentator” (as well as a musical back-story about a ninja-turned-hairdresser, sung mock operatic under a shower of falling flower petals). To quote one reviewer: Your jaw will drop like an elevator with a snapped cable. Be sure to stay for the end credits!
Comment: Stylized cartoon violence is jarring at first, until you realize that no one really gets hurt.
This screening of Ninja Kids is part of the New York International Children's Film Festival (NYICFF), which ends on Sunday, March 25th with screenings at various venues. For information about the remaining festival screenings, which include both live action and animated offerings from Asia, click here.