He comes from the mighty Kingdom of Tonga (pop: 105,600, principal export: baby squash). He is trained in the ancient art of ninjitsu. He is, unsurprisingly, TONGAN NINJA, and now his story can be told.
Ever since his father was eaten by a fish, Sione was brought up to follow the way of the ninja. Now he must journey toward his greatest challenge and defend the beautiful Miss Lee and her restaurant from Mr Big and the Syndicate. These men will stop at nothing to get their hands on an ethnic hospitality establishment servicing the central business district.
Only his fists and his long years of training in Tonga will help him face Gun Man (he’s good with guns), Knife Man (good with knives), Henchman (good with henches), Chef Guy (you get the idea) and Asian Sidekick. Finally, he must confront his ultimate nemesis - Action Fighter. Will love, and a great deal of physical violence, triumph in the end? You work it out.
Shot in stunning yet convenient locations, Tongan Ninja features exciting new sound and special effects techniques designed to fool the extremely gullible into thinking it was done for real.
Tongan Ninja is something special, something different, something that gives the phrase “this film is yet to be classified” a disturbing new meaning. People who love musicals, people who like sophisticated comedy, devotees of the best Hong Kong action films, foley artists, all will want to corner the makers of Tongan Ninja in a darkened alley and ask “Why?” Tongan Ninja – the film you didn’t know you wanted, until you wanted it.
Director, Jason Stutter, has always loved movies, especially comedy and action pictures. While making one of his early short films, Gun Lovers he needed a clip of an action film to play in the background of one of the scenes. The intention being that the action in the closing moments of the short film would imitate the action of the promo. The promo he shot was called Tongan Ninja. Stutter recalls that when they shot the promo, “we all laughed about how one day we’d make this film”. Several years later the feature version of Tongan Ninja went into production.
“Tongan Ninja proved a pleasure to shoot”, recalls Stutter, “this was a labour of love”. Made with the goodwill of his friends and his own resources, everyone involved in making Tongan Ninja loved the idea and the characters. Stutter says, “There was a very fun and silly atmosphere throughout the shoot, which is clearly evident in the end result”. He adds, “You can’t take things too seriously when you’ve got a night club full of dancing Ninjas”.
Following the tradition of many martial arts films, Stutter decided to over-dub all of the dialogue in the film. This became a useful device when shooting at noisy locations. It also later allowed for a great deal of creative freedom for the final dialogue of the film.
Stutter says, “the story of Tongan Ninja was a lot of fun to dream up”. He chose to take all the usual story turning points of an action film and use them in an original way. The intention was to follow the classic three-act structure but avoid making the comedy become secondary to the plot.
As the film developed, it seemed natural to Stutter to break out of the martial arts plot and introduce some musical moments. Collaborator, Jemaine Clement (ACTION FIGHTER) along with Bret McKenzie and composers Plan 9 wrote some original songs to fit the movie. Stutter comments, “this was a fun device, and one I’m sure Bruce Lee would have used if he was still with us today”.
With a cast and crew who are all fans of Hong Kong actioners, they worked towards creating a celebration of the genre. Stutter uses the action sequences in Tongan Ninja to parody favourite moments of other action films. Stutter says, “we’ve all seen the good guy avoid bullets while being pursued by a trigger happy baddy. The truth of the matter is bad guys can’t shoot straight… at least they can’t in the world of Tongan Ninja.”
Hawaii, Warsaw, Hof, Puchon, Brussels Fantasy Festival, India
Colour, 35mm, Dolby Digital