Watch 3 Ninjas Knuckle Up

"Tum Tum, Colt and Rocky are back for all new non-stop Ninja action!"

By the time that teen action movies had become a genre all to themselves in the 1990s the combination of young protagonists and martial arts was a proven winner. The Three Ninjas series, detailing the adventures of three brothers (all fitting the white, Suburban teen look) who were trained by their Japanese grandfather combined just the right amounts of fantasy and fighting without the real risk to life and limb seen in adult action films to become an enduring hit. It even took a page right out of Steven Seagal's action hero book in the film "Three Ninjas Knuckle Up."

By the time Knuckle Up was being filmed the series had been going on long enough that it was embracing tropes and trying to figure out how to up the stakes without putting the brothers in real, someone's-going-to-get-killed danger. It also had to find a way to justify putting three juvenile delinquents with the skills of ancient assassins (who never actually killed anyone) into the spot of the hero even as they're breaking bones and the law. The solution was to put them up against a figure so oppressive and corrupt that the law can't do anything about him.

Our villain in "Three Ninjas Knuckle Up" is a stand in for big business and the corruption that spreads out from corporations with deep pockets and no concern for the environment. A toxic waste polluter, he's destroying the environment and, to add insult to injury, he's also causing problems for the local native American tribe the brothers have befriended. So since the villain has the police in his pocket and gangs of heavily muscled bikers for back up, the brothers decide that the only way to fix this is to use the arts of the ninja to steal a disc containing information on the illegal practices of the villain and to turn it over to the proper authorities outside of the town to bring the full force fo the federal government down onto him.

A miniaturized version of "On Deadly Ground" with teenage twists, "Three Ninjas Knuckle Up" is a serviceable movie that you can watch any time. Geared for a younger generation and definitely filmed with 90s effects and fashion, that hasn't stopped the series from remaining popular in some circles.

| 1995 | 1 hr 25 min | 4.2/10 | 39/100
Victor Wong, Charles Napier, Michael Treanor, Max Elliott Slade
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Sang-ok Shin, Simon S. Sheen

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