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Film / Surf Ninjas

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Surf Ninjas is a family film directed by Neal Israel from a screenplay by Israel and Dan Gordon. It was released on August 20, 1993.

Johnny (Ernie Reyes Jr.) and Adam (Nicolas Cowan) were perfectly ordinary brothers, surfing afternoons and weekends while attending school during the day. Then comes a mysterious stranger named Zatch (Ernie Reyes Sr) with an Eyepatch of Power and news of an unbelievable heritage. Adventure ensues as the brothers journey to obtain their birthright from the villainous Colonel Chi (Leslie Nielsen).

The film also stars Kelly Hu as Ro-May, Tone Lōc as Lieutenant Spence, Rob Schneider as Iggy, and John Karlen as Mac.

This film provides examples of:

  • The '90s: Surfing, Game Gear, gratuitous ninja. It dates the movie permanently in the 90's.
  • Abdicate the Throne: Johnny's first act as king is to dissolve the monarchy and return the government to its people.
  • Absurdly Long Stairway: There's one on Colonel Chi's island and one mook is repeatedly pushed down those stairs. He manages to return after the bad guys have lost. He throws himself back down them in defeat upon this news.
  • And Starring: The opening cast roll ends with "and Leslie Nielsen as Colonel Chi".
  • Because Destiny Says So: Taken to the point of lampshading in the final assault.
    Mac: You can't go after [Colonel Chi] alone, Johnny.
    Adam and Iggy: [in unison] He can if it's his destiny.
  • Big Bad: Colonel Chi has been a warlord for a long time and is the one keeping Johnny from reclaiming the throne and freeing his country.
  • Binocular Shot: Spoofed with Zatch, who only has one eye and his POV shot is half obscured.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: When the one-eyed Zatch notes he wants to quit smoking, Iggy suggests "you get the patch." He then looks to the camera to note who he's talking to.
  • Brick Joke: "Baba Ram" returns just before the ending credits after Johnny gives him an embarrassing concert at the beginning of the movie. The Baba Ram finds it Actually Pretty Funny.
  • Cool Crown: Johnny, Adam, and Ro-May all wear one at Johnny's coronation/abdication though Johnny does admit that he likes the crown before he resigns
  • Crazy-Prepared: Spence surprises everyone by showing up after being handcuffed below.
    Spence: I had a key.
    Johnny: Where? We searched you.
    Spence: I swallowed it last Tuesday.
    Johnny: How'd you know you were going to need it?
    Spence: I swallow it every Tuesday.
  • Dangerous 16th Birthday: Johnny's father Mac gets kidnapped two weeks before the former's 16th birthday.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: Iggy, particularly in the scene where Johnny's future bride is introduced, wearing a veil. Johnny and Adam both make snarky comments hinting about why she might be wearing a veil. Iggy says it flat out because he can't find a rhyme.
  • Dramatic Slip: Colonel Chi is knocked down and stepped on by an elephant, necessitating cybernetic replacements for much of his body. However, he has a good three seconds of hammily screaming to the camera during which he easily could have avoided the elephant's foot.
  • Extreme Sports Plot: Colonel Chi's island does not have an easy assault method. Adam realizes they could quickly construct surfboards to attack by sea.
  • Exact Words: Just before the infiltration of Colonel Chi's island by surfboards, Iggy reveals to Johnny and Adam that he has never surfed a day in his life. Which they already knew anyway. But then Johnny says "But what if you could? The ability is within you." Obviously he wasn't talking about Iggy's non-existent "What If" power.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Zatch has an eye patch after receiving a wound from Colonel Chi. This does not slow him down.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Threatened by an Irish "very distant" relative. To whit: Don't make me come down there and beat yew wi' tha leg o' mine tha' no longer works, cause AH'LL DO IT!
  • Groin Attack: Adam uses his Game Gear to control Colonel Chi's mechanical arm and make him squeeze his balls painfully.
  • Heir Club for Men: The young princes of Patusan are spirited to safety during a Ruling Family Massacre so that they can return and liberate the country once they grow up (although this may be due to specific prophecies about their skills). An older girl who appears to be their sister is left behind, makes no effort to flee, and is Killed Offscreen.
  • Highly-Visible Ninja: Most of Colonel Chi's forces, which elicits a sarcastic remark from Iggy.
  • Honey Trap: Ro-May uses her looks and a quick phrase in Patusani to entice two armed guards into some dense foliage so Johnny can quickly beat them up.
  • Instant Expert: Seems to be one of Adam's powers.
  • Kiai: Everybody. Even the elephant.
  • Kill It with Water: Towards the end of the Final Battle, Johnny sends Colonel Chi into a pool of water near the palace, electrocuting him for good.
  • Literal-Minded: Iggy finds a crate of dynamite sticks. Johnny tells him to throw one at a truck that's chasing them. Iggy throws one at them without lighting it and hits the driver's head, causing the bad guys to crash.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Zatch is Johnny and Adam's uncle. He tells them after he got injured.
  • Martial Arts Headband: Johnny, Adam, and Iggy all get one, though Iggy's receipt is played for laughs.
  • McNinja: There are many ninjas in this movie, none of whom are Japanese.
  • Mondegreen Gag: The "Baba Ram" receives a ceremonial concert from Johnny at his high school. The ceremony is the song "Barbara Ann" by the Beach Boys.
  • Never Bring a Gun to a Knife Fight: Colonel Chi uses a machine gun against Johnny in their fight. Needless to say, it proves ineffective against Johnny, who parries several bullets with his sword.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Fist Fight: Colonel Chi invokes this after losing his machine gun, saying that now that because Johnny still has his sword but he doesn't have his gun, it's no longer a fair fight. Amazingly enough, in what can only be a strange combination of Genre Savvy and Honor Before Reason, Johnny actually agrees with this self-serving argument and puts away his sword. The two of them finish the battle unarmed, allowing for a resolution that doesn't involve someone's skin getting punctured.
  • Precision F-Strike: At least a "F" as a PG movie will allow.
    Johnny: Adam, you're driving!
    Adam: Ain't it bitchin'?
  • Product Placement:
    • Adam uses a Game Gear to predict the future and control people. And he does this by playing a game called "Surf Ninjas". That's right, he predicts the future by playing the video game adaptation of the movie he's a character in (and there really was a "Surf Ninjas" game for the Game Gear).
    • While the boys get ready for school at the start of the film, a box of Kellogg's Froot Loops cereal sits in plain sight on the kitchen table.
  • Really Royalty Reveal: What kicks off the plot. Johnny and Adam discover that they are the long lost crown princes of a remote island called Patu San.
  • Red Right Hand: Colonel Chi uses a mechanical left arm to replace the one he lost to a local elephant.
  • Royalty Superpower: Apparently, being in the royal family makes you a peerless warrior with no training or able to see the future.
  • Rule of Funny: In the restaurant fight, Adam is 'playing' the fight on his Game Gear, and selecting how things will go. When the time comes to choose weapons to fight off ninjas, he selects the funniest ones, and gets more points for it.
  • Ruling Family Massacre: It's mentioned that when Colonel Chi took over he murdered the entire royal family except for the two young princes and their uncle Zatch.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Johnny, the first time he uses a blade, refers to Zorro.
    • Zatch mentions a man named Gum-Bey. Johnny quips that it must be Po-Key's friend.
  • Spare a Messenger: There are about a dozen survivors, mostly senior citizens and children, in a village Colonel Chi razed, so they can tell other villages to be afraid.
  • Stout Strength: Mac has a small pot belly and is a decent fistfighter, even if he gets kidnapped pretty quickly.
  • Surfer Dude: Both Johnny and Adam take surfing really seriously. Iggy's pretends he is and it's played for laughs.
  • Suddenly Always Knew That: Both the brothers are told they have tremendous skill. They don't believe this until push comes to shove and they suddenly do have tremendous skill.
  • Swallow the Key: The heroes lock Lt. Spence up with his own handcuffs on the boat to Patusan. When they ask where he got the key, he mentioned that he swallowed it on Tuesday. When asked how he knew that he was going to need it, he states simply that he swallows it EVERY Tuesday.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • A stuntman assures Miss Hu that he could take her kicking him in the nuts. He can't.
    • Iggy reminds the others that the gas in their house was left on, and says "What if our house blows up?" It immediately does. Iggy then proceeds to blame himself for having caused the explosion by Tempting Fate, and concludes that he must have Tempting Fate as a superpower:
      Iggy: Something happened, I don't know what it is, but now every time I say WHAT IF about something it comes true, and back there I said "What if the the house blows up", and it blew up!
      Iggy: Wow, I have this tremendous responsibility! What if I lose this power?
      Iggy: Oh my gosh... I just said "What if I lose this power?" Damn it, I had it, then I lost it!
  • The Good Kingdom: Patu San was described as being such for thousands of years before Colonel Chi overthrew the royal family.
  • Thousand-Year Reign: It is mentioned that Patu Sans royal family has ruled the island for four thousand years. note 
  • Token Minority: Lieutenant Spence, played by Tone Loc, is the sole black person in the movie. However, the protagonist Johnny's actor has Filipino heritage.
    Spence: Brothers don't surf!
  • Two-Faced: Colonel Chi's face was repaired with cybernetics after he gets partially crushed by the elephant.
  • Waif Prophet: Adam predicts the future and sees solutions to problems without having any downsides to this trope.
  • Warrior Prince: Johnny is expressly called this and given a headband meant for Patu Sani Warrior Princes to mark him as such. They also mention Patu San has been ruled by these for four-thousand years
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Because of his cybernetics, Colonel Chi can't touch water.