Top Five Favorite Moments in 1990’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”

TMNT1990In 1990, just two days after TMNT 1990 premiered in theaters, my dad took my brother and me to see it in theaters in Manhattan one afternoon. It was just the three of us in what felt like a humongous theater, draped in the dark as the Turtles my brother and I worshipped finally jumped on to the screen after saving April O’Neil from being killed by the Foot Clan.

While I don’t particularly love the current cinematic incarnations of the TMNT, I hope there are kids out there getting the same awe inducing experience with “TMNT: Out of the Shadows” as I did when I was seven. “TMNT ‘90” still holds up very well today, with some excellent action set pieces, great humor, and so many quotable moments. Here are only five of my favorite moments in a movie filled with some banner scenes.

5. Raphael Gets Ambushed
Raphael was my favorite turtle as a child, so watching him get the crap kicked out of him on April’s roof was like watching my dad getting beaten up. When you’re a kid, the cartoons always show the good guy just about to get hurt and then rise up to fight back and win the day. Imagine my sheer horror as Raphael isn’t just ambushed by a group of Foot Soldiers on a roof, but eventually is so outnumbered he gets beaten near death. Not only that, but as an added insult to injury they throw his body in to the sun roof of April’s apartment. I was horrified, and it’s still a compelling moment.

4. Raphael Rage
The Turtles are more than a little shocked to learn that their covert little home in the sewers has been infiltrated thanks to April’s friend Danny. When they return home, they find it’s been ransacked due to a possible violent fight that’s ensued, and Splinter has lost since he is nowhere to be found and is officially Shredder’s hostage. Raphael bursts past his brothers looking out on the carnage and unleashes one loud haunting cry of rage and anger. It’s a haunting and emotional moment.

3. Nunchuck Contest!
In the middle of the massive battle that ensues in April’s apartment in the effort to get Raphael to safety, Michelangelo is especially taken aback when a foot soldier approaches wielding nunchucks with flair. Taking it as a challenge, Mikey engages him in a wonderful and excellent nunchuck contest, as the battle of egos ensues in what is a gradually funny and very cool scene. Of course Michelangelo wins. He’s Michelangelo.

2. Casey Jones Saves Raphael
While I’m not big on how Casey gets sidelined in the climax, he does get a lot of excellent scenes in most of the film. After beating Raphael in Central Park, fate intervenes as he bears witness to Raphael fighting for his life across the street from where he lives. Though he’s much too late to help him, he does enter just as the Foot Clan are cornering the group of warriors, allowing the upper hand. Casey saves the day and helps a fellow warrior he’s gained immense respect for.

1. The Turtles vs. Shredder
This was a long time coming. The Turtles were pissed. Shredder was pissed. Hell, even Shredder’s assistant was mighty peeved, and the Turtles finally decide to square off with their biggest nemesis. Sure, they could have all walked off and left Shredder for someone else, but as Leo declares: He knows where Splinter is. Left with no other choice, they fight Shredder off one by one on the top of the roof in the middle of New York, and fight for their master’s life.

Despite their absolutely best efforts, The Turtles simply are no match, despite getting off a few good shots on the master ninja. The Shredder fight is beautifully edited, masterfully choreographed, and it still gives me chills when Shredder drops down on to the roof only steps away form the Turtles. He’s ready to make examples of them, and they’re fighting for blood.