You're Just Bitter Because You Got Shot: Ninja Cheerleaders (2008)

I always think I will get to a point in my viewing of films where I will no longer be expressly disturbed by a terrible film, one whose very existence defies all logic or explanation, even if it were to be independently produced.  Indeed, there are bad movies that have a noticeable degree of earnestness abut them that afford them a cult status, works like The Room, Birdemic and even Plan 9 from Outer Space are wonderful because their filmmakers did not detach themselves ironically from the work, but genuinely thought they were producing something of high art.  Nothing is worse in my book than a bad filmmaker who has a detached sense of irony about the work they are producing.  Ninja Cheerleaders is one such work, wherein, the filmmaker, David Presley, wants to show how god damn well he "gets" his material, in the process, sacrificing any sense of enjoyability and on a very basic level watchability.  I mean a film about community college girls who hope to strip their way to an Ivy League school that also happen to moonlight as ninjas is the stuff of exploitation cult cinema that could work in almost any directors hands, were they to even remotely consider it a narrative that could be told without constantly drawing their "cleverness" out within the narrative.  The further shame of the film is that there are components that do genuinely work, particularly whoever was hired as the film's set designer, because they clearly have a feel for mise-en-scene, tragically, it is lost in the focus on the three girls being sexy and smart to the point of being seemingly unstoppable.  Presley clearly wanted his film to be cool, right down to his predictable music choices and already dated stylistic choices, mind you the film came out only five years ago and it manages to feel like an early 2000's episode of Real World, a look that is not countered in the slightest by the very real casting of a former Real World member in the cast.  Of course, the biggest injustice of the film is incorporating George Takei into your film and not providing him a space to deliver his campy acting in all its glory.  Indeed, if the rest of the movie reflected anything close to Takei's zealous over-the-top line delivery it might have become a contemporary exploitation classic.  It appears as though Presley though he was directing a low-fi version of Kill Bill, but the result is something more indicative of a freshman film students flailing attempt to recreate his favorite scenes from Tarantino films.

Ninja Cheerleaders focus on a clique of "attractive" white girls whose life at a rundown Los Angeles community college are only made bearable by the idea that they will eventually be able to leave for Brown.  The three girls include the voracious and brooding April (Ginny Weirick), the clearly too old for community college, but wants to live the dream of being young again Courtney (Trishelle Cannattella) and the ditzy to the point of nausea Monica (Maitland McConnell).  Of course, Brown is an expensive and decidedly inclusive school, although the three are exemplary students at the community college, all holding the difficult to attain 4.0, which is enough academically to earn the three acceptance.  The money is still an issue though, considering that they all come from working class families, although their style and maintenance would suggest otherwise, therefore, they find a means of success working as go-go dancers for a local strip club, where they are the favorite of customers.  Furthermore, they have also entered a stripping contest which, if they win first place will provided them with another fifty thousand dollars towards their tuition.  The strip club they work at is run by the aging Hiroshi (George Takei) who also happens to serve as a sensei to the three girls that are training in the dark martial arts of ninja.  Things finally seem to have fallen into place when the girls get the last bit of necessary money, only to have a group of mobsters step into the picture and raid Hiroshi's club, shooting him, ransacking the place and more tragically stealing the girls' hard earned money from the club vault.  This act leads the girls on a wild vendetta where they hunt down the various mobsters and systematically move their way to the top man in the operation, who is apparently only attempting to challenge the club because he wants to reinvigorate the name of his family in the city.  Realizing the power of the three girls, he hires a ninja from the black clan in Japan named Kinji (Natasha Chang), who proves a formidable opponent for the girls, but not or Hiroshi when he steps in to deliver the fatal blow to the mob's hired hand.  In the end the three girls obtain their money and are able to move forward with their dreams of living it up as strippers turned assassins turned Ivy Leaguers.

This movie is so unwatchable, that I found myself strongly considering banging my head against the wall in protest.  I kid you not, I placed my forehead against the wall and thought that it would at least help me to forget about its grueling existence.  I guess though instead of elaborating on my thoughts of self-destruction brought on by this film, it is perhaps better to point out some of its flaws.  First off, the acting in this film is next to impossible not to hate.  Excluding, George Takei who is essentially playing himself and the minor scene involving Erice Stonestreet everybody else is clearly failing from a lack of acting direction, or even basic understanding of how to deliver a line for film.  Indeed there are moments when I could pick up Trishelle Cannatella actually staring vapidly at the screen, as though she were completely unaware that she needs to act when part of a scene.  It was not an acting choice in the slightest, but a clear misunderstanding of the presence of a camera, particularly inexcusable since she was a cast member on a show that help set a standard for how evasive the filmic image could be in one's personal life.  The second factor that became infuriating at a certain point was the editing between scenes, which involved combinations of events which had occurred in scenes prior, layering images of guns and strippers as if to remind viewers where the film had previously gone, a repetitive act that the editor attempts to make less so by the use of the most obvious of after effects possible, even incorporating a rotating cube, which, if I am not mistaken, might be the default option in Final Cut when you decide to incorporate such effects.  If the narrative were more well-formulated or not so short these unnecessary cut scenes would not have been a problem, but I am almost certain that if you cut out the amount of time spent on these moments, the film would clock in at below feature length, because it happens that much.  Finally, this is more of a frustration on the part of naming, because I included Ninja Cheerleaders in the list solely to fill a slot on the kung fu marathon, with what I though would be a wild bit of post-genre nonsense, but that was not the case.  Neither the act of cheerleader or ninjas really factor into the film.  Instead it is about how terrible community college is and a backwards attempt to consider the life of young women who choose to engage in exotic dancing.  Just in case you think that it works on any of these levels, let me assure you that it fail miserably on all accounts.

Key Scene:  The fleeting moment with Eric Stonestreet is worth watching, but he is also a great actor so that says little for the remainder of the film.

Do not watch this movie.  I will, undoubtedly, suffer for days from this experience and do not wish the same upon you.

1 comment:

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