With “Black History Month” and “Women in Horror Month” dropping in February, I thought it’d be a lot of fun to post another installment of “Great Minority Movie Heroes,” a list of movie heroes that are also people of color. What started as a one shot list has become a project for me to find diverse movie heroes from various races that people of color can relate to. What are some of your favorites?
With fans of Mighty Morphin complaining that they could only get the 1995 movie on DVD when it was released as part of a complete box set, Shout! Factory finally releases the big feature film on Blu-Ray for collectors. “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie” admittedly has a ton of nostalgic and sentimental value for me, so I’m not even going to pretend to thumb my nose up at it. All I know is it’s a damn fun movie, and one you can watch the equally underrated “Power Rangers” from 2017.
Full Disclosure: Although Mill Creek Entertainment sent us a copy of “The Jackie Chan Adventures,” the opinions expressed are 100% honest and our own.
Jackie Chan seemed almost fit for his own kids show. While the international action movie star was in fact known for a slew of iconic movies that continue to win the hearts of movie buffs to this day, Jackie Chan’s methods of self defense always made him look like a walking, talking cartoon character—but, you know–deadly. To tap his ever-rising popularity, the WB network eventually gave him his own animated series for kids. Unlike other action stars, it seemed like a natural fit that wouldn’t alienate any of the fan base including the action aficionados. Basing a show on a hero that avoided getting hit as well as avoiding actually hitting his enemies was a breath of fresh air, and it seemed like Saturday morning kismet.
Many years later, director Sam Firstenberg’s “Ninja III” is an out of left field mix of horror, action, and ninjas, all of which were very popular in the eighties. I was never quite sure what happened to “Ninja” one or two, but when I was a kid, “Ninja III” was a bonafide favorite of mine that I’d indulge in every time it was on network television. Thankfully I’m not alone as “Ninja III” has become a cult classic that stands alone, much like “Troll 2.” There’s just something fascinating about a young woman and aerobics enthusiast being possessed by the ghost of a ninja, who begins to seek revenge on his past foes.
Whether you love or hate “Batman Ninja,” you have to admit DC is at least going for something completely different and radical this time around. With a different crew and approach toward the mythology, “Batman Ninja” is a unique time traveling tale that finds Batman at his most godlike, worshipped as a near invincible warrior in Feudal Japan. Beautifully directed by Junpei Mizusaki, “Batman Ninja” puts the entire aesthetic of the DC character in to some of the wildest anime filters, and it works most of the time. Some concepts land with a thud, but when “Batman Ninja” soars, it’s quite spectacular.
The first time I ever saw “Mortal Kombat” was in 1992 when I stopped by a grocery store on the way to school and saw a pair of guys battling one another on the arcade cabinet. Though “Street Fighter 2” was huge, “Mortal Kombat” made its own waves by realistic character models and some of the most vicious video game violence ever conceived in its era. So came the 1995 movie where not even then was there this much babbling about supernatural forces, and tournaments. “The Journey Begins” works overtime to build a mythology from this simple video game, and fails big time. It feels like someone at Threshold Studios were alerted about the upcoming movie and only had about two weeks to build a respectable animated tie-in.
“Home Alone” begat “3 Ninjas,” which begat cheap, kiddie, straight to video, action fare like “Double Blast.” Mixing the appeal of the adventure movie with kids fighting crime, both of which were oddly prevalent in the decade, “Double Blast” is the epitome of the poorly constructed cash ins that littered video stores. The movie is so bad that often times you can see the pair of heroes burst in to laughter as they engage in martial arts with the film’s comedic henchmen. Jimmy and Lisa are an adventurous brother and sister who love to get in to adventures involving ninjas and martial arts. When their dad, a professional kick boxer and widower named Greg goes out for the day to compete in a tournament, rather than take them along, the pair of kids ultimately gets in to big trouble back in town.
If you were like me in 1992, a nine year old with a love for ninjas, then “3 Ninjas” was one of the most kick ass movies of the decade. I worshiped Bruce Lee, and watched “American Ninja” constantly, so John Turtletaub’s film hit all the right notes with a young lad such as myself. “3 Ninjas” is the product of a time where every single studio sought to cash in on the success of “Home Alone” by offering their own unique twists on the genre. This time rather than Kevin McAllister being a devious little boy with Jigsaw-like talents for making traps, the studio provides us with tween protagonists of varying ages that are also practicing ninjas. As a whole “3 Ninjas” isn’t a lot like “Home Alone,” save for mid-way when the movie’s narrative literally halts to present us with its own truncated version of “Home Alone.”