Ninjas vs Vampires Movie Review

Ninjas vs Vampires
by Jason Lees,

We have one rule in our house when it comes to movies. We’re not allowed to totally trash a flick, no matter how much we want to, if it succeeds on getting a reaction out of us. My son, who really hated the Elm Street remake, isn’t allowed to say it’s crap because it did elicit a few jumps and gasps out of him. You’ll have to forgive him, he was ten at the time.

And that’s why I’m going to be pretty damn warm to NINJAS Vs VAMPIRES, the sequel to NINJAS VS ZOMBIES (which not only have I never seen, I’ve never even heard of until today). NvsV is a bargain basement action/horror/comedy that mines the BLADE movies for its action set pieces while trying to ape the flashier moments of MATRIX as well. Now as horrible as that sounds, let me point out that all this cost about 15 grand, which means NvsV’s resources were less than Keanu’s hair gel budget.

Instead of Wesley Snipes or Mr Reeves facing off their enemies, what we get here is a young best friends (ie. future lovers) being attacked by vampires while baring their souls, but right as we’re about to say bye bye, a band of heroic ninjas appear to save the day. The first fight is fast and furious, if a little too stagey, but it sets the pace for what’s to come. Which is a nice way to say that when it comes to action and horror, this flick sort of busts its nut in the first ten minutes. The remainder of the fights and scares never go much further than its opening, and that’s a shame, because there’s actually a lot to like here if you can handle the repetitive choreography.

And here’s why I’m going on record as saying that “Ninjas Vs Vampires” is worth your time is because, while yes it tends to hit you over the head over and over with its self referential approach to the genre, it’s the sheer enormity of these attempts that I found so endearing. Not only does writer/director Justin Timpane pay homage to films from Star Wars to The Rock with its tagline stealing ways, but it does it so often that it’s screaming to be made into a drinking game. There are whole scenes that I swear are completely sewn together from lines lifted from other movies, and while that doesn’t make this a good movie, it certainly makes it a well informed one.

Yes, the acting is a bit stiff. Yes, some of the costumes are laughable. And yes, you’re never going to mistake this for the next SHAUN OF THE DEAD, but you have to admire what these guys attempted to pull off. Too many flicks, both high and no budget, just accept what is expected of them and give us the same ol’ oatmeal day in and day out. Here, NINJAS vs VAMPIRES tries to be so much more than it can ever hope to be. If you have a budget that won’t get you a new Audi, you probably shouldn’t attempt to CGI in an exploding army of the undead, but common sense didn’t stop these guys. Even if you hate the end result, you have to admire that sort of misguided love they show.

As far as knocking the movie, I just can’t do it. It’s against the rules of the house. The action and horror may not have worked for me, but I did laugh out loud a few times. The actors may not be Hong Kong’s finest, but they can deliver some pretty good (if inane) dialogue, and any movie that has a character referring to someone as a “penis wrinkle” gets a free pass in my book.
And any vampire film that dresses its first fang victim in a “I LOVE EDWARD” t-shirt, to me, has its heart in the right place.

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