Norwegian Ninja Review

The Film

imageThe problem with a good idea is that the responsibility to deliver upon it requires both further inspiration and sureness of delivery. I believe these twin burdens explain why so many visual artists find refuge in the short form offered by advertising and pop video, and find themselves far from home when moving up to the long form of feature films. It would be churlish to not offer sympathy for those who make it from the little leagues of a single decent notion only to fail when they find themselves exposed by the exacting multiple demands of the premier division of motion pictures.

I wrote something similar last year about the promising concept of Nazi zombies in the snow, and the producers of the epic fail that was Dead Snow, have now offered Norwegian Ninja for your home entertainment. Supposedly based on the real life story of Arne Treholt, a former politician and journalist convicted of spying for the KGB, Norwegian Ninja offers an explanation of the man which paints him as a true patriot under the wing of King Olav himself. Further, it explains his dealings with the Russians as enlightened and the actions of a true hero fighting Nato conspiracies. image
Now that sounds quite worthy doesn't it, but that's because I excluded his ninja powers, feng shui forcefield and cutting edge underwater technology. Delivered in deadpan throughout, the basic joke here is the idea that such a fine specimen could be Scandinavian. Sending up the controversy around the real Treholt, the suggestions that he was fitted up and the basic assumed dullness of a national stereotype, Norwegian Ninja is meant to be a guffaw factory of nonsense. For Brits, imagine the idea that recently convicted Scottish politician Tommy Sheridan was a cross between Bruce Lee and William Wallace.

Undeniably some of the comedy doesn't translate to those unaware of the history, which means that most British viewers of this product will approach it as whimsy and slapstick. On certain grounds, the comedy works in a mild smile sort of way for the demonstrations of the feng shui forcefield and the more outlandish ideas like invisibility suits, and there are some clearly labelled funny moments towards the end when the tone shifts to hyperbole. imageUnfortunately though, there is simply not enough that is that funny to keep you consistently entertained. A lot of craft has gone into the performances, the ropey effects and a spirit which is affectionate enough, but the story, script and general impact is weak and inconsistent. It's a great title, an interesting idea and possibly a funny short film but clearly the makers are running out of steam when they insert five minute montages into the conclusion which repeat everything we've seen before just to pad the running time.

Tech Specs

Offered on a region 2 coded dual layer disc, the transfer for the film is decent without being exceptional. The cinematic attempt to look gritty is emphasised by a general softness and uncertainty of the contrast. The upside of that is a lack of filtering or sharpening, decent edges and strong colour.imageTwo strong audio options are offered with decent bitrates in the original language with good solid and optional English subtitles. There is effective coverage across the channels in the 5.1 mix, the music is clearly reproduced and the effects seem well defined in terms of the rumbling from the LFE track and basic atmospherics.

Extras

Plenty of bonus and deleted scenes are offered, some of which seem an improvement upon the material in the film. The longer version of Treholt's nemesis at home for instance gave more depth to his character and offered some much needed subtlety as well. The deleted scenes are only offered on a loop whereas the bonus scenes are playable individually. There are a number of featurettes covering some of the visual FX setpieces within the film, an interview/Q&A with the director and lead, and a music video which kind of confirms the general point of my review by sticking all the humour available here into four minutes. Teaser, trailer and TV spots conclude the plentiful extras.

Summary

Some better writing and more consistent gags would have improved this greatly. It's not bad and will provide some undemanding fun for b-movie fans.

Film
4 out of 10
Video
6 out of 10
Audio
8 out of 10
Extras
6 out of 10
Overall

5

out of 10

Last updated: 18/04/2018 12:41:19

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