I haven’t had a vacation in 17 months, amongst other things, and I am in need of some serious laughs(?).
– Lieutenant Spence
The Set Up
The Surf Ninjas Munch night was a special request from Stella (a friend of Ben’s), who had been begging us to do this movie for Munch. We will let her introduce the post.
When Ben told me that this movie was next in the Munch queue, I just about lost my mind. Surf Ninjas was a capstone of my childhood – I was OBSESSED with this movie growing up. Sadly, it never achieved mainstream commercial or critical success, which is a mystery to me. A movie about long-lost princes who also happen to be So Cal surf bros rescuing their fictional southeast Asian/Pacific Island nation from a tyrant with a cyborg arm (played by Leslie Nielsen!!!!!!) isn’t exactly a tough sell… But maybe that’s just me. That being said, Surf Ninjas is one of those movies that seemingly everyone and no one has seen. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a cult classic, but it’s hard to reference one of the many awesome throwaway lines in this movie without getting the occasional “DUDE, YOU’VE SEEN SURF NINJAS TOO!?” and officially Having A Moment.
Despite its idiosyncrasies – or what perhaps less open-minded people might call “flaws” – I firmly believe that this film was ahead of its time. If my research is correct, Surf Ninjas is the first movie to have an accompanying video game developed alongside the movie. (It’s absolutely genius marketing – this movie made me want a Sega Game Gear so that I, too, could predict the future.) I also suspect that Tone Loc’s appearance in this movie paved the way for hip hop artists providing comic relief in an ensemble cast. It might not be a stretch to say without Surf Ninjas the world may have never been blessed with Ludacris and Tyrese’s performances in the Fast and the Furious. I don’t want to live in that world.
We cooked up a sun-soaked surf-inspired menu for this movie. We started off with wax beans, because, like, you wax a surfboard, right? Get it? Kwan-tsu! With a little bit of kick from a red chili and an ambiguously asian flavor, these beans slid easily into our stomachs. These wax beans were about as likely to enter the water as Rob Schneiders’ waxed surfboard… That’s a Surf Ninjas joke.
Next, we made barbequed salmon, a traditional dish from Patusan. We don’t know that for sure, but according to Surf Ninjas, you can say anything is traditional in Patusan, whether it is actually traditional in Vietnam, Thailand, or some other Asian country, and it’s totally cool, dudes! Kwan-tsu! The fish itself was a delicious copper river sockeye that we marinated, seasoned with a rub, and threw onto the barbecue. Finally to top it all off we made a mango salsa with a little bit of habanero in it to add a roundhouse kick the tastebuds with every bite. Overall, this was the perfect combination of surf and ninja.
For dessert, we made Pineapple Dole Whip. This is another traditional dish that originated in Disneyland, and coincidentally, is also quite popular in Patusan. Again, we just decided that, but it’s like, totally kwan-tsu, dudes! Because half of the movie takes place in Los Angeles/California (or possibly Spain but who really knows) we wanted to evoke that while again adding our own ninja kick to the dish. We topped it with a little bit of Tajin: a citrusy, spicy flavor that is a popular addition to fruits and vegetables.
Surf’s up! We made a half gallon of the drink California Surfer for the evening. For those of you who aren’t familiar with traditional surfer drinks, California Surfers are a mix of pineapple juice, Jagermeister, and Malibu. We were all a little weary of how the Jagermeister was going to fit into the concoction, but just like a ninja, we didn’t even know it was there. It’s dangerously easy to drink.
- Drink when someone says “kwan-tsu.”
- Drink when the Sega Game Gear predicts the future.
- Drink when someone says “psych!”
- Special Stella bonus rule: Finish your drink whenever someone makes fun of Zatch’s eye patch. (This ended up being a very dangerous rule… Our livers make like ninjas and got out of there in a puff of smoke.)
If we could sum up Surf Ninjas in two words, we wouldn’t pick “surf” or “ninjas” because surfing is as inconsequential to the plot as ninjas are. Instead, our two words would be “kwan-tsu” because the movie is a state of mind – it cannot be defined. I’m sure the creators saw Surf Ninjas as a coming-of-age ninja power fantasy surf dramedy, but at it’s heart, Surf Ninjas is really nothing more than a bad idea that worked out in the best way possible.
Surf Ninjas pretends to be the tale of Johnny, a warrior prince who discovers his fate and brings it to fruition, but it’s really the story of Lieutenant Spence, played by Tone Loc. Spence is an average cop who really needs a vacation. This poor cop hasn’t had a vacation for 17 months, amongst other things, and is in need of some serious laughs (although there were some questions about whether or not he actually said “laughs”). If he needed laughs, though, he couldn’t have picked a worse group to hang out with than Johnny, his seer brother (who looks a lot like a young Andre and who will henceforth be referred to as “Tiny Andre” from now on), and Rob Schneider. Every joke those three tell falls flat. Honestly, this movie needed a laugh track because we had no idea where we were supposed to laugh.
You see it too, right?
Oh, and if any of the writers of Surf Ninjas are reading this, there are a couple of loose ends that were never revisited in the movie that we want some closure on:
- What happened to Rob Schnieder’s parents that lived in the biodome in Arizona?
- Are you planning on making a Surf Ninjas spin-off about the biodome in Arizona?
- How do you plan on working Lieutenant Spence into the spin-off about the biodome in Arizona?
- Was the movie always about Lieutenant Spence or did you decide it was halfway through, and is that why Lieutenant Spence is hardly in the first half at all?
- Why did Lieutenant Spence get all of the good lines the good line?
- Did Spence say he was in need of “some serious laughs” or…?
- What happened to Lieutenant Spence after the final battle?
- Where is Lieutenant Spence during the final battle?
- Why did the main character, Lieutenant Spence, only get four minutes of screen time?
(½) “How’d you get those handcuffs off?”
“I had a key.”
“Where? We searched you?”
“I swallowed a key last Tuesday.”— Munch (@getmunchedup)
(2/2) “Whoa, how’d you know you were gonna need it?”
“I swallow one every Tuesday.”— Munch (@getmunchedup)
- What traumatic event caused Lieutenant Spence to decide to start swallowing keys every Tuesday?
- Why Tuesday?
- Seriously, why every Tuesday?
- Is Lieutenant Spence’s digestive tract… okay?
— Munch (@getmunchedup)
- When did Los Angeles move to Spain?
- How was Los Angeles moved to Spain?
- Why, in the movie, do they only speak English in the Spanish city of Los Angeles?
- Why did you think this movie was a good idea?
- Who told you this movie was a good idea?
- Are you still friends with the people who told you this movie was a good idea?
Finally, before we close out here we need to talk about the distinct lack of women in this film. To put it lightly, this was a dude salad of a movie and the only woman present is purely as a love interest for Johnny to marry. She has a limited number of lines, and was largely absent throughout the entirety of the film. There were moments in this film that showed that she could have been a strong driving force, whether it be when she asserts her independence saying she may not necessarily want to marry Johnny, or when she shows herself to be a very talented fighter, taking on multiple enemies (a moment that is over as soon as it starts).
Andre: Hang 8/10. Surf Ninjas was oh-so-close to being a perfect movie. The only thing holding it back was poor writing, directing, acting, and editing. Or maybe the poor writing, directing, acting, and editing was what made the movie so enjoyable. Now that I think about it, a better crafted movie about Surf Ninjas wouldn’t be as fun to laugh at and I don’t necessarily want to watch a “well done” movie about Surf Ninjas, so I guess Surf Ninjas was just right for what it was.
Leanna: On a scale of the Sega Game Gear to a PlayStation 4, I give this movie a Wii. Watching this movie was a very weird experience for me considering it felt like I was watching a high-budget home movie starring a young Andre. I also wrongly assumed that Rob Schnieder, being one of the most recognizable actors in this film, would be the main character or at least have a more integral part. In fact, he was pretty much entirely inconsequential. This may make it sound like I didn’t like the movie, and to be honest, I did not have high expectations. I had very low expectations. And, like Ben, I was pleasantly surprised when a single scene which may appear entirely unimportant to anyone else, caused all of us to fall into uncontrollable laughter as rewatched it again and again trying to decipher the dialogue. Surf Ninjas was a surprisingly fun watch – good suggestion, Stella!
Ben: 65%. For what is undeniably a terrible movie, I had much more fun watching this film than I had any right to. Also, thus far this is probably the hardest I have ever laughed for any of the Munch movies. Now that isn’t necessarily the movie’s humor and more the result of multiple viewings of a single scene in the movie and the unfortunate misheard word. But it was a wonderful time as a whole, and I am extremely glad Stella suggested that we watch this film. It will have a special place in my heart.