To begin: the kids. The movie’s first sequence introduces the seven lucky ninja kids as they fight a bunch of faceless bad guys; each kid gets highlighted and introduced. They have names like Little Fatty, Rambo, and Bumpkin. How American. All the while, a disturbingly happy little song sang by a chorus of Japanese kids plays in the background. This two-minute sequence is the only explanation of these kids that we get. Beyond this, we have no idea why we should give a crap about these kids or what they do. When the movie starts off, it seems like these kids’ only job is to hang out in a nice hotel and eat dinner and hang out some more. But soon, they’re accidentally tangled up in a plot to steal a diamond. These seven kids talk in unison quite a lot and it’s really freaky.
Even freakier is the detached, soulless laughter that their American voice doubles lend to the movie. The kids run into a room, jump around a little bit, make a big scene, and laugh the entire time. But these giggles are so unnerving and empty, like a menacing little child’s ghost in a scary movie. It’s hilarious. And of course, it’d be too much work for the writers to throw in some kind of parent figure. These kids are completely unsupervised. The closest thing they have to a parent is a guy in a trench coat and fedora that follows them around. He claims to be responsible for them, but I have my doubts; he never actually interacts with the kids in any meaningful way. I have no idea what his name is. He’s the comedic relief of the movie, which starts off with him being a Three Stooges style slapstick character. As the movie goes on, it becomes disturbingly sadistic with scenes where he crashes through a pane of glass on a bike, smashes into a wall, and gets beat up by two random guys. Oh, and his motif is so goddamn annoying. It’s some A Talking Cat!?! level shit. So the kids’ only companion is another incompetent adult that serves no purpose for the plot and there’s no real explanation for why these kids exist as a unit. Perfect.
This movie was marketed towards kids… I think. So much about this movie indicates that it’s a kids movie; kid protagonists that take down a bunch of big scary bad guys, slapstick comedy (that falls flat on its face), incredibly cartoony and stylized quirks for each of the kids, and relatively few consequences for the fight scenes, where baddies just lie on the ground after a hit or two. But then we get looking up skirts, cross-dressing, a few legit murders, and some distasteful jokes about sexual harassment. Some strong language like “asshole” and “retard” is also thrown around. Then again, this was the 80s, when Beetlejuice got away with an f-bomb as a PG movie. So I honestly have no idea. I think 7 Lucky Ninja Kids was ultimately meant for kids because of one scene in particular set in an ice rink. An entire scene is based on the fact that the gangsters are chasing these kids through a mall and they end up on the ice, which messes up all of the dumb adults with no sense of balance and the kids kick the shit out of them. But they focus on this scene for 5 entire minutes. It’s not a particularly well-choreographed or acted scene; it’s just kind of there in the grand scheme of things. The guys behind this movie really didn’t give a crap about this scene, or any of the other big action set pieces in the movie, like a bicycle chase through the city.
The bizarre thing is that when it comes to the actual kung fu fighting, it’s pretty damn good. These kids were obviously cast for their fighting skills and not their acting chops. (Check out this scene where the little girl is crying. Somebody give her an Oscar.) Just as you think you’ve had enough of the bad-movie appeal of this movie, some surprisingly good fight scenes breaks out. The music scoring these fights is still shit, meaning that you never forget that this is something you can laugh at.
7 Lucky Ninja Kids is such a bizarre movie that I can tell that it’s going to be one of my go-to flicks for Bad Movie Night for quite a while.
This article is part of NUFEC's Bad Movies series. Find 7 Lucky Ninja Kids for free on YouTube here.