Remember that level in Streets of Rage where you battle a horde of bad guys on a lift as you make your way up to the final boss? That's what Ninja Apocalypse reminded me of. But without the awesomeness. Obviously. Ninja Apocalypse isn't a bad film by any stretch of the imagination, it's just not a very good one either. Directed by Lloyd Lee Barnett, who has worked on the visual effects for big budget pictures like Avatar, Spiderman and The Lord of the Rings, Ninja Apocalypse reads like a goofy concept on paper but takes itself far too seriously for that.
Thankfully, as you would expect considering his track record in the industry, Barnett does conjure up some nifty effects work along the way. It's not much but it certainly takes the focus away from the lukewarm action choreography. Framed for assassinating Grandmaster Fumitaka (Shang Tsung from Mortal Kombat), the Lost Ninja Clan must battle its way through an underground nuclear bunker filled with supernatural enemies.
All the while, pursued by Hiroshi's (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II) unstoppable Ninja army, with orders to hunt them down. Trapped a thousand feet below the Earth's crust, the Lost Clan must first defeat the shoddy writing, weak acting and unforgivable lack of laughs if they are to emerge from the bunker (and the movie) unscathed.
I'd never heard of Christian Oliver before this, but he's been around the block a few times, working with the likes of Steven Soderbergh in The Good German, Brian Singer in Valkyrie and the Wachowski Brothers in Speed Racer. He's a personality vacuum though. In fact, none of the characters are memorable and the storyline has been done to death. But then, you don't come to movies called Ninja Apocalypse for compelling storytelling.
The action sequences are competent enough and there's plenty of CGI blood, but there's nothing new to see here, and had it not been for the creative use of effects I would've given up sooner. Ninja Apocalypse is largely forgettable then. A few more laughs and a charismatic lead would've kept it from lurking in the shadows, but I'll be sticking with Scott Adkins for my low-budget action kicks for now.