Making the Grades
Michael Vickerman and Hugh Kelley, the writers of this film, must have graduated with honors from NTU -- Ninja Turtle University. They are masters at following the recipe to create their own pre-adolescent male action adventure.
First, take Ryan (Mario Yedidia), an insecure child. Add a few tough bullies that play on the school football team. Mix in some envy -- Ryan is dying to play football too. Now add a heaping dose of vulnerability with a leg brace that prevents Ryan from ever fulfilling his dream. Finally, blend in Chef Ming (Dennis Dun), a double acting ingredient. His wise spiritual advice gives Ryan his only hope, but it's his martial arts cooking style that allows this recipe to rise slightly above similar movies. This guy can really toss a salad!
Unfortunately, Ming gives Ryan just enough confidence to get him into a classic peer pressure situation when he accepts the football gang's challenge to a dangerous dare in the sewers. (Sewers? It must be from NTU...) Ryan's fall down a giant drain throws the whole recipe into the oven. All these movies need to bake in a fantasy world for at least an hour where our hero can learn the art of being a warrior and fight the bad guy. In this mix, five suspiciously Power Ranger-like kangaroos provide the action to literally kick bad guy Komodo (Angus Macfadyen) out of town.
Typically these films add a pinch of the adage that violence is wrong, mixed in with a whole batter of endless scenes of fighting. The video game plots provide the antagonist with a series of ever increasingly difficult challenges, with no opportunity to solve conflict through negotiation. Meanwhile, Komodo's druglike addiction to a life preserving liquid and fascination with two scantily clad women acting in slavelike bondage, borders on offensive considering the audience's age.
And as if the ending can justify the content--after saving the fantasy world, Ryan comes back and has the courage to tell the football bullies to take a hike. Another classic work from NTU.