We’ve long past the point of over-saturation with zombies with AMC soon going to have three different zombie shows, tons of zombie video games still coming out, various comic series and more that you really have to do something unique to stand out. If you couldn’t tell from the title, the team behind Zombie Ninjas decided to throw some martial arts into the mix and the result is a fun mashup action movie.
In a setup inspired by classics like Die Hard, the Saisei Industries headquarters is locked down when a group of reanimated mercenaries escapes their lab and kills almost everyone. A special ops team is sent in to clean up and hide any evidence while Dillon, who is on site for a job interview to become a Saisei security contractor, is caught in between. The title of the movie is basically all you need to know about the plot, as the zombie ninjas whittle down the black ops team but there are some wrenches thrown in where the leader of black ops team, AK, becomes a secondary antagonist as he refuses to bend his orders to kill all witnesses and Dillon is stuck protecting a scientist, Mali, who provides some background on what these zombie ninjas actually are. If you are a zombie traditionalist, you’re probably going to be disappointed with the portrayal of zombies here, as the only traditional elements are the zombie ninjas needing to be killed by head trauma and their relentless attacking.
Action wise, the movie is basically a chain of fight scenes and they all manage to be fun, with the ZNs (Zombie Ninjas) moving with insane speed and are invulnerable to pretty much everything and the stuntmen playing the ZNs, especially Ken Low, do a fantastic job of displaying the crazy martial arts abilities these undead mercenaries possess. My one gripe is that the choreography on the fights feels the same for a lot of them, as the same beats and moments are repeated with only slight variations for most of the movie and most of the fights are 1 on 1 with a black ops member or Dillon vs a single ZN. It would have been fun to see more fights with multiple characters or more use of the environment. The movie is also surprisingly light on gore as well. It feels like almost a given at this point that zombie movies or TV shows are full of crazy kills and, while they explain why in the movie, it would have added to the fun of the movie, especially if movie like Die Hard or The Raid were the inspiration.
Considering what the budget was, the team behind Zombie Ninjas vs Black Ops should be commended for both trying to do some legit martial arts action and also for trying to shake up the tired zombie genre. You obviously are not going to get the choreography of something like John Wick or The Raid but it’s still worth checking out and supporting the team behind it, so maybe they could get a bigger budget a really deliver something crazy and awesome.
(Check out the movie and the animated webcomic at http://www.zombieninjascomic.com/)