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  • technically - (sound / camera / scenery / lights) this is not the greatest effort ever but the film has so much going for it! In the not too distant future youngsters play ninja/paintball games in an abandoned power station by night, and during the day they attend their studies which include martial arts lessons with a former member of the military You can watch the film just on those terms and go no deeper;

    * or you can look at the theme of the "passing of the flame" from the martial arts teacher to his students; karate starts and ends with courtesy, it is not for killing someone in a fit of temper);

    * or you can watch the film for some wonderful martial arts fight sequences. (arguably the VERY BEST KENDO sequence I have EVER seen in any film)

    * or watch the film as a historical effort from early in Nicole Kidman's career.

    The casting of Vince Martin is nothing short of a stroke of cinematographic genius This movie gets a definite thumbs up!!
  • Really a shame, poor direction ruined what could have been a far better film. Solid, believable performances from a very young Nicole Kidman and a fine martial-arts actor, Tom Jennings, just aren't enough to save this. The screenplay didn't quite realize the basic concept of a bunch of older kids staying up all night to play Ninja war games in an abandoned power plant, much to the neglect of their school work. It was, to say the least, a bit muddled. There were some good futuristic elements thrown in, but not convincingly enough to play true. As to what year of school these "kids" were in, it's hard to guess. They're clearly too mature for an American high school, but then again, it's an Australian movie, set in the future.

    With better editing, this movie could have been a bit more watchable, but I suspect there just wasn't enough footage shot that the editor had much choice. Some sequences were reused in pointless mini-flashbacks that really didn't belong in the film. This makes me wonder if it wasn't being padded to play on television. And the director just didn't seem to be able to tell a story. He did frame the occasional dramatic picture, but not often enough to achieve the artsy effect I think he was going for. Besides, without being able to accomplish the basics, you should be careful with the frills.

    However, it's a treat to see the young Kidman. Despite the bad direction, muddled script, all the martial arts sequences executed in the dark, and her thick Australian accent, you can see what everyone saw in her, even then. Tom Jennings wasn't bad either, seemed to show a lot of potential, but I wonder what happened to him. According to IMDB, he made one more movie in '88 and then dropped out of sight.

    I wouldn't recommend you go out of your way to see this one, but it lapsed into the public domain and is available very cheaply from a number of sources. I can only think of two reasons to see this: 1) You're a die-hard Kidman fan who would watch ANYTHING if she was in it, or 2) You're lazy and dishonest and looking for an obscure script to recycle for a student film project.
  • sol-kay24 December 2004
    ***SPOILERS*** Futueristic movie about a number of Austrailien collage students playing Ninja games all night then attending karate/physical classes at 5:AM and by the time they go to their regular classes are too knocked out to really learn anything. Their karate instructor Steve Beck, Vince Martin,has a very strong grip on the students to the point of almost killing themselves in their Ninja night games to impress him. Steve's best student and his biggest admirer is young Robby Mason, Tom Jennings, who Steve is guiding to the champion karate/boxing finals.

    A very impressionable young man Robby lost his father at an early age and Steve was the perfect father-figure that he needed so badly at this time. One of Robby's teachers Sonia Spane, Joanne Samuel,is very concerned by her students, especially Robby, being so infatuated with Steve. Sonia knows some things about Steve, by being his former lover, that they don't and those thing can be fatal to both the students as well as Steve.

    A highly decorated war veteran Steve is the only survivor of his army unit and has developed very deep emotional as well as psychical scares to the point where he can show no human feelings other then anger and violence to hide the fact he was the only one to survive. Steve put all this violence and aggression into his karate/boxing classes and Sonia sees that those students who are so impressed by Steve are slowly turning into the violent and brutal person that Steve is.

    Steve also developed a drug habit in the army and is being supplied with his daily dose by local drug dealer and all around sleaze ball Guy Duncan, Craig Pearce, who also is blackmailing him. Sonia trying to get Robby away from Steve before he's caught up with Steve's secret life that can destroy him as well as Steve. As hard as she tries Sonia can't budge Robby away from his hero worshiping of Steve and it took an incident the night of the big karate/boxing Champiship that Robby was to participate in that finally open his eyes to just what kind of person Steve really is.

    Very interesting movie with a young 20 year old Nicole Kidman playing Robby's girlfriend Amy Gabriel who caught on to Steve early in the movie when she saw him and Guy exchanging money for drugs and it almost cost her life for finding that out. The real star in the movie is Tom Jennings who was both strong and sensitive, what ever happened to him?, in his part of Robby Madson. In the end Robby had to face the truth, as well as the fists and kicks, of the person he looked up to for so long.

    Robby battles Steve in the abandoned warehouse that he and Steve's students practice on their Ninja/Karate skills that Steve thought them at the end of the film. The movie is hard to follow due to the very dark photography in it making it very difficult to tell who's who in the very thrilling fight sequence between Robby and Steve at the conclusion of the film but if you give it a chance and overlook that you may very well like it.
  • Killa426 November 2011
    Do you like 80s action-drama films with weird plots that kind drag, but are interesting nonetheless? Than this is for you! Do not be mislead by the fact that it's one of Nicole Kidman's first films and by that get the impression that this is something else. This movie is more like American Ninja than a drama. Only, this is Australian Ninja. I really enjoyed the movie because it had an original plot and a good moral in the end. I was moreover pleased with the conclusion and how the writer tied all things together in the end, leaving zero holes and answers all questions brought about. The other reviewers seem to be displeased because they were expecting something else. But if you go in knowing that you're about to view an 80s action-drama, you might just enjoy this.
  • This one makes more sense than most Ninja movies, but that's not saying much is it? A fun one if you like the bad movies.

    Actually, the Australian Teenage Movie has become one of my favorite bad movie genres. OK, we got kids involved in dangerous secret stuff at night, but also involved with "good" activities at school. Of course there's a caring female teacher who reaches out to help a troubled young man (and the ensuing titillation). And we must also have the bad mentor, showing the kids the wrong way.

    Best of all, Nicole Kidman running around in a dark factory in a Ninja suit! Also hysterical is the way they keep referring to the frumpy schoolteacher as a real looker! Wait till she shows up on her motorcycle. Also featuring painful 80's rock at local club, and sudden dream sequences.

    The pacing of this movie is pretty good, and with a little more care, could have been a better film. Nonetheless very entertaining. If you like this, you'll gotta see the Aussie teen flick, Street Hero.
  • Have you ever had one of those dreams where you seem to know everybody around and all the places you were at, but somehow it didn't match up? For instance, you're at the Raiders game with your grandmother and a drug dealer and you're singing Christmas carols. Doesn't quite go together very well.

    That is what this movie is like. I couldn't tell if the characters were at their school, martial arts gymnastics dojo or some big boiler room or if they were all the same place. At one point I got the distinct feeling that I was in the Cobra Kai dojo from the Karate Kid.

    The lack of any plot, it seems, makes this movie totally uninteresting in even the slightest manner.

    I do realize that this review doesn't make much sense, but that is because this movie makes no sense either. It's just hard to explain.

    I did, however, watch a young Nicole Kidman pretty closely. She looked so different and yet, still just as recognizable. She definitely has "It", even at such a young age. She is the only thing that kept this movie from being unwatchable.

    Even despite Kidman, I give this movie 3 stars out of 10. Not recommended at all.
  • Not because of similar plots, but because of the similar way that a) it's clearly for teens and b)I really don't understand what the plot is, I was reminded of the movie City Limits. There's a ninja Fight Club thing going on, and I can see them ninja-ing in the dark to the detriment of their studies and health, but I haven't a clue why they are. There's a drug dealer and some other daytime sports scenes with a coach who gives me a creepy peek-at-the-boys-in-the-shower vibe (though I don't think that's part of the plot), a chronically angry "good teacher," a made-for-TV drug dealer, and a guy in a wheelchair ... but these details don't all add up to anything that makes sense. I have a suspicion that the director said to his buddy, "Hey, we have access to a bar, a school, and an abandoned factory next month. Let's make a movie!" and then tried to come up with a plot to fit those locations. I think they needed an extra month on that script.

    This gets a star for being a baby-faced Kidman's first role--and really, none of the actors are terrible, but 50% of my stars go to the music, a sort of no-particular-decade rock that I thought was pretty good. Had I been 16 and Australian in 1987, I would have wanted the soundtrack.
  • loz4cs23 October 2004
    I wasn't sure at first whether or not it was a convincing plot - however the acting is very good. Kidman is freshfaced and delivers her role very well, despite there not really being a complexed plot to work with.

    Tom Jennings is very convincing too, not seen him in any-thing else at all actually which is a shame. If any-one has any more info on him would be grateful.

    The film is set within a school where kidman and jennings are both members of what seems to be a martial arts club. They're both trained by their master who much to their dismay a drug dependent loony who in anger kills one of their fellow pupils. Yes extreme but subtly done - as it is quite randomly fragmented. (ie His dream sequence) However for a unique Australian gemstone of a film you have to watch it - the dubbing of the martial arts sequences are pitiful but to see kidman and jennings running about in ninja suits is truly priceless
  • I just bought a DVD player, and this was one of the free movies thoughtfully supplied with it. Even at that price, I was overcharged. The plot (such as it was) was muddled, character development was nonexistent and the martial arts sequences were poor to say the least. I've given this 2 on the strength of Nicole Kidman alone, who at one point actually did some acting, and for the one interesting scene where the Older Woman turns up on a motorbike to save Our Hero. One for the "why was this ever made?" bin, for me.
  • this is an interesting film, set in australia, with nicole kidman and tom jennings. the film is a little offbeat, and viewers would need to enjoy australian films. if american style of films is your preference, then this might be for you, but i (as an australian) thoroughly enjoyed it.
  • I just bought a DVD player, and this was one of the free movies thoughtfully supplied with it.

    Very interesting movie with a young 20 year old Nicole Kidman playing Robby's girlfriend Amy Gabriel who caught on to Steve early in the movie when she saw him and Guy exchanging money for drugs and it almost cost her life for finding that out. The real star in the movie is Tom Jennings who was both strong and sensitive, what ever happened to him?, in his part of Robby Madson. In the end Robby had to face the truth, as well as the fists and kicks, of the person he looked up to for so long.

    Robby battles Steve in the abandoned warehouse that he and Steve's students practice on their Ninja/Karate skills that Steve thought them at the end of the film. The movie is hard to follow due to the very dark photography in it making it very difficult to tell who's who in the very thrilling fight sequence between Robby and Steve at the conclusion of the film but if you give it a chance and overlook that you may very well like it.
  • ss3361 November 2006
    Warning: Spoilers
    This is a very entertaining film. The paranoid, defensive hero of the movie is shown to have serious underlying psychological defects, but somehow his sexual insecurities and strange delusions coupled with a predisposition to always be ready to inflict violence are held up to the light as shining examples of moral conduct.

    The hero has a profound rage and hatred towards his romantic rival who happens to be a drug dealer, and he reacts violently whenever they meet. In his mind, he imagines his martial arts teacher (!?), his love rival and his girlfriend in his own living quarters, in a drug-fuelled sexual orgy. On account of such dark thoughts, he is unable to sleep. This and other instances of fantasy blending with reality (especially at the end of the film, where multiple endings are shown and in which the girlfriend is subjected to various demises and the student and teacher have several "final confrontations") turn the whole film into a particularly insightful and compelling piece of psychological drama. This is quite inconsistent with the quality of other parts of the film. For instance, most of the actors' performances are weak bordering on pathetic, and there are strange inconsistencies in the plot devices regarding the attitudes to drugs (i.e. the girlfriend is suggested to have been a drug user at some point, but she remains one of the "in" crowd despite that the drug dealer is universally shunned socially on account of having black, slicked-back hair).

    The adults of the film both male and female are shown as commandeering and competent. Only the kids have overt insecurities. However, there are strange irreconcilable behaviours at times. For instance, the martial arts teacher is said to be an illicit drug user because he has PTSD on account of being a war veteran, and when his secret is accidentally discovered he inexplicably steps up his deviant behaviour several notches by threatening to kill a schoolgirl, then violently killing his dealer, and then trying to kill his own best student. He chooses these actions instead of seeking out help, which seems odd within the film because he's shown to be a competent, assertive character who would probably be able to kick any drug habit.. It's all part of the strange 1980s fascination and moralising about drugs. Reefer madness..

    All-in-all, this is a fascinating film and well worth seeing for a trip back into the 1980s, with the ninja preoccupation of that period, and its skillful depiction of adolescent angst. There's a cheesy moment for everyone to enjoy! However, it is not in the same class at classic 80s flicks such as Big Trouble in Little China or Death Machines, so having the wrong expectations it may disappoint. 6 out of 10.