[VIFF2019] Checkered Pasts are Confronted in Checkered Ninja

27 Sep

nullBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Vancouver International Film Festival
Sunday, September 29, 2019 at 1:00 PM
SFU Goldcorp

*also available on Google Play

Checkered Ninja is not your typical animated movie. It offers more than to teach youths how to stand up to bullies. Two plots drive this film. One is of a stuffed doll, a ninja, coming alive Chucky-style to avenge a huge misdeed by a toy maker visiting his slave labour driven factory and the other of Alex (Alfred Bjerre Larsen), a precocious tween having a rough social life.

The toy (Anders Matthesen, who also directs) takes a Deadpool style approach of trying to get to his goal and the boy serves as a moral compass; There are other solutions to dealing out justice. Vigilantism does not have to involve bloodshed.

The language used in this work puts this film in a PG13 category. Thankfully, the dialogue is nowhere near what Deadpool puts out. Tako Nakamora (the spirit of) needs a lot of catching up to do if he was to follow in the footsteps of the merc with a mouth. However, he can only manifest when injustice towards children has occurred. His backstory is nicely told in flashback; to keep viewers entertained, a rap song accompanies this moment and is easy to jive to. Even though Ninjas are associated with Japan’s past than Taiwan, it seems he’s a patron saint (of sorts) whenever children anywhere in Asia are threatened.

This ghost rider is very honourable and teaches the boy how to stand up for himself. However his approach is neither like of Miyagi-san from Karate Kid or Batman training Robin. The story flows a bit awkwardly as it tries to deal with Alex’s high school life and yet continue with the plot of the doll finding the child beater. In a weird way, the spirit has to stop being like Wolverine when dealing with the bad guys, and that’s a sequel waiting to be made.

4 Stars out of 5

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