Let me introduce you to Ed Glaser. He is the owner and executive producer of Dark Maze Studios, an independent producer of films and web series which prides itself on the micro budgets of its production.
The latest offering from Dark Maze Studios is the 10 part web series Ninja the Mission Force. To explain this series I first have to provide some background.
In the 1980s there was a film maker named Godfrey Ho. Ho would obtain the rights to distribute various unreleased Asian action movies. To improve the U.S. appeal for these films he would shoot footage of caucasian actors dressed as ninjas and edited them into the films and then overdub everything to attempt to make them mesh as one story. What resulted was series of movies with a high WTF factor.
Glaser took this concept and ran with it.
The main plot of NTMF is a battle between Gordon (a ninja working for Interpol) and Bruce (leader of the Evil Ninja Empire) to gain control of the seven avian ninja warrior statues (seven rubber ducks in ninja costumes) that will grant the possessor of all seven ultimate ninja power.
Gordon (played by Glaser) is also dealing with the mysterious disappearance of his wife (played by Sarah Lewis) years ago. This is mitigated somewhat by a virtual avatar of her he interacts with through her self-videotaping project she completed before she vanished.
Bruce (Played by Brad Jones, better known as internet reviewer The Cinema Snob) has anger management issues. Every time one of his minions disappoints him (fails to defeat Gordon, loses the formula to create a zombie horde, gets his lunch order wrong, etc.) he feeds them to his just off screen tiger.
Both have agents that are out in the world searching for the avian ninja warrior statues. These agents are represented through scenes form public domain movies that are edited into each episode. Taking it a step further than Ho, the movies used are often as far from a ninja movie as you can get, including Orson Wells’ The Stranger, John Travolta’s Boy in the Plastic Bubble, and the original Night of the Living Dead. The new dubbed dialog takes these in new directions. The scenes from Boy in the Plastic Bubble are the set up for the Zombie horde and Night of the Living Dead features dogs whose brains have been put into human bodies and set after Gordon’s agents. In keeping with the spirit of the Ho movies, every episode has the word “ninja” in the title.
The overall tone of the show is absurd camp. The ninja fights are staged to highlight the fact that none of the actors have any martial arts training, and yet are presented as master fighters. The first episode features Gordon fighting a cheese ninja and overcoming him using his knowledge of bacon fu.
Each episode is 10 to 15 minutes long. This allows them to move the story along, tell their jokes, and not wear out their welcome.
The biggest strength of the show is also its greatest weakness. The over the top campiness will endear it to some and turn off others.
Overall I find Ninja the Mission force to be an excellent example of a web series. It combines it low budget and campy nature, with some cleaver writing and total commitment by the cast to create a unique program.
Final grade for Ninja the mission for is B+