I bought this DVD for a friend who is a Robert Z'Dar completeist. I was morbidly curious, so I watched it first. That was a major lapse of judgment. My first challenge was in trying to play the DVD: the main menu is so poorly designed as to make it hard to figure out how to get the movie to start; unfortunately I was a bit too tenacious and actually was able to get the film to play.
This film is one of the most amateurish films ever made (I am not the first reviewer to notice this,) making such Mogadore, Ohio classics as "Chickboxer" and "Galaxy of the Dinosaurs" look like Oscar winners by comparison. The movie stars a long haired karate instructor (think Roger Daltry in a bathrobe) and three annoying kids. This concept was far more skillfully executed by Hulk Hogan in "3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain." I am somewhat ashamed to be able to thoughtfully compare the two.
The teacher is the "White Dragon" who patrols the streets of gang-infested Los Angeles by night. He has supernatural powers (the "gift of the dragon") which he passes along to his three young proteges, who get red, gold, and black dragon masks of their own. (When you see the Red Dragon, note how he looks like an almost perfect cross between Gene Simmons in costume and Boy George.) The enemy is Cobra Khan played by Robert Z'Dar, who along with his son, Cubby Khan, run the looting and pillaging gangs.
The kids adore their teacher, and they practice with him daily. In fact, the huge preponderance of the film is taken up by karate practice (they wish they were as good as the cast of "Chickboxer" but they aren't) and annoying electronic music. Not only are they small ninjas (hence the title,) they rollerblade to their fights. There are subplots about environmental damage and fish poisonings, a comic book written in "Canadian" instead of English (rendering it illegible to the ninjas,) and fantasy action vignettes in which Robert Z'Dar actually gets to play patty cake and do a Tarzan impression that frightens off clowns. (I am not making this up.) Of all subplots, though, the most disconcerting is the one in which the moody ninja's mom is romantically interested in the karate teacher. When she bakes him cookies there are voiceovers where we get to explore what they are thinking about each other. Samples include "Nice muscles" and "Her hair is like a waterfall gleaming in the moonlight." That's not too far off, actually: her hair is quite large.
Cubby Khan and his minions finally duke it out in a warehouse, and engage the ninjas in a virtual reality game to determine the winner. This is perhaps the worst few minutes of film I have ever sat through in my entire life. Between the "Sonic Virtual Reality" special effects and Robert Z'Dar being enveloped in silly string, very little else compares to this in wretchedness.
One thing to note as the film ends: absolutely no plots are resolved. None. This film is notable for its utter lack of resolution. Are the gang problems solved? Do the karate teacher and the ninja's mom hook up? Is the fish poisoning stopped? We have no idea (and we don't care.) That shouldn't really be a problem for the target audience of this film, but even children will be unentertained by this drivel. This is not so bad it's good, it's just bad. If you want to see a better performance by Robert Z'Dar, I recommend "Guns of El Chupacabra," which, while awful, is still better than this. Actually I would recommend any of Robert Z'Dar's movies in preference to this, now that I think about it.
Pocket Ninjas: even the kids will just say no.