Ninjas Vs. Vampires (2010)

Description (from breakingglasspictures.com):
Ninjas battle vampires for the fate of the world in this all new Action-Horror-Comedy from the creators of 2010’s cult smash, Ninjas vs. Zombies!  Moments after down-on-his-luck Aaron is rejected by the girl of his dreams, they both are attacked by blood-sucking vampires. Driven to save her, Aaron tracks down the mysterious ninjas, who wage a nightly war against the forces of darkness.  Now, as the vampire overlord Seth plots to destroy mankind, Aaron has only one choice – join the ninjas, save the world, and get the girl… or die trying.

Major Cast:
Jay Saunders as Aaron, Daniel Ross as Kyle, Cory Okouchi as Cole, Devon Marie Burt as Alex, Carla Okouchi as Lily, Kurt Skarstedt as Seth, Melissa McConnell as Ann, Liz Christmas as Lorna, Daniel Mascarello as Manson, P.J. Megaw as The Bishop

Special Features:
None (Screener)

Written and Directed by Justin Timpane

With a title like NINJAS VS. VAMPIRES, I knew there was little chance I would hate this movie.  Actually, unless it was just a complete was of time, I was pretty sure I would enjoy NvV… I mean, c’mon, it’s ninjas vs. vampires: a great high-concept idea for a low-budget film.  I like ninja movies (not as much as I did as a pre-teen, but they’re still fun), and I like vampire movies.  So, it was no surprise that I enjoyed NvV; it was a bit surprising that I didn’t enjoy it more than I did.

NvV is a sequel to the equally high-concept NINJAS VS. ZOMBIES (which I have not seen), but it does not require that you see the first film to understand this one.  Other than the concept, which should immediately catch the attention of most low-budget genre film fans, the film also does well to work within its budget restraints.  There is a relatively small cast of main characters – with a few extras in a few scenes – and a small number of locations, both of which help to keep the budget bottom line in check.

NvV does a lot of things really well for a low-budget film; besides the aforementioned sticking to the budget, NvV also has really good production design, good homegrown CGi, and good fight choreography.   In general, the costumes were well done – the ninjas regular and “ninja” clothes were not too over the top, the vampires were well dressed (as I assume vampires would be!) for the most part… Manson’s costume was silly, and would have been more suited to a level boss in a video game rather than a character in this movie.  The CGi was impressive for the budget; the effects were good enough to not be cheesy, but were far from the latest Industrial Light and Magic production.  The part of the film that most impressed me was the fight choreography, the fights were nearly as kinetic and frantic as what you would see in most big-budget action films, but without big-budget stunt men and martial arts trainers.  However, too much of a good thing is usually too much of a good thing, and the fights were just that; they were well done, but there was just too much screen time devoted to (what became) the same ol’ thing.

So with all the above being said, I still have to explain why I wasn’t blown away with NvV, and that mostly comes down to the script.  There are pop-culture references throughout, which I enjoy, but you can only make so many TWILIGHT jokes before it becomes old.  Unless I just wasn’t paying attention, there were plot holes where stuff just kind of happens (e.g., how did Manson get into the basement?  I understand he didn’t have to be invited, but can he teleport?  Did he tiptoe by in the background when no one was looking?) and is never really explained.  Other times, the stuff that happens is way off from what seems should happen (e.g., the vampires live in a mansion, but can only afford a heavy black blanket as sun protection?).  And my biggest issue with the script was the dialogue; while it was occasionally witty and quotable, it was often flat and just “got the job done.”

Part of the flat-ness described above comes from the written word itself, but part of that aspect comes from the fact that the acting quality varied.  The main characters were, in general, good but not awesome, with a few exceptions.   Seth, the main vampire, was seemingly hired for his muscles (because his acting left a lot to be desired), and his lackluster performance was exacerbated by the fact that the best performance in the film came from his sidekick, Lorna.  She was the perfect adolescent vampire girl: cute but creepy, bubbly and brutal.

Overall I enjoyed NvV, just not as much as I THOUGHT I would enjoy NvV!  It was an entertaining mash-up of two fun low-budget genre staples that brought the action and the comedy with a bit of horror here and there.  With some tweaks to the script and some touch-ups to the performances, it could have been awesome.  I’ll look forward to checking out the hinted-at third film in the series, NINJAS VS. MONSTERS, to see if what was good in this one matures into being great.

Overall 6.5 / 10

NvV on the IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1748134/

NvV for sale: http://www.shop.breakingglasspictures.com/Ninjas-vs-Vampires-853937002636.htm

NvV site: http://ninjasvsvampires.com/

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