3 Ninjas (1992)

PG | 84 mins | Comedy | 1 August 1992

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HISTORY

The three boys, who constantly interrupt each other, begin the film with a voice-over explanation of how they spent the previous summer “the way we always do, at our Grandpa’s cabin…learning old-fashioned, really cool ninja stuff from our Japanese grandfather. Most days begin the same way. Every morning he would wake us up with a different test. Grandpa is kind of a goofball in a way, but when it comes to martial arts and stuff, he’s pretty cool.… Anyway, we’ve been training since we were really little. Summer was ending and we were ready to go back to school, but by now we all thought we were ready to be ninjas. It was good that we were, because that was the summer we would never forget.”
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, Korean filmmaker Sang Okk Sheen and writing partner Kenny Kim developed the story, wrote a first draft, and translated the script into English before screenwriter Edward Emanuel was hired to restructure it for American audiences. They attended many martial arts championship competitions in Southern CA and interviewed over 100 children to find three leads with “strong martial arts skills and acting ability.” Victor Wong, who plays “Grandpa,” trained with the boys for several weeks before production, and they all received additional instruction in tai chi and the use of martial arts weapons. Principal photography began Nov 1991, using Los Angeles-area locations. Grandpa’s house was located in Topanga Canyon near the San Fernando Valley, and the Douglas family’s suburban home was in Agoura Hills. The villain’s ship scenes were filmed on the S.S. Lane Victory, docked in San Pedro harbor.
       Originally titled 3 ... More Less

The three boys, who constantly interrupt each other, begin the film with a voice-over explanation of how they spent the previous summer “the way we always do, at our Grandpa’s cabin…learning old-fashioned, really cool ninja stuff from our Japanese grandfather. Most days begin the same way. Every morning he would wake us up with a different test. Grandpa is kind of a goofball in a way, but when it comes to martial arts and stuff, he’s pretty cool.… Anyway, we’ve been training since we were really little. Summer was ending and we were ready to go back to school, but by now we all thought we were ready to be ninjas. It was good that we were, because that was the summer we would never forget.”
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, Korean filmmaker Sang Okk Sheen and writing partner Kenny Kim developed the story, wrote a first draft, and translated the script into English before screenwriter Edward Emanuel was hired to restructure it for American audiences. They attended many martial arts championship competitions in Southern CA and interviewed over 100 children to find three leads with “strong martial arts skills and acting ability.” Victor Wong, who plays “Grandpa,” trained with the boys for several weeks before production, and they all received additional instruction in tai chi and the use of martial arts weapons. Principal photography began Nov 1991, using Los Angeles-area locations. Grandpa’s house was located in Topanga Canyon near the San Fernando Valley, and the Douglas family’s suburban home was in Agoura Hills. The villain’s ship scenes were filmed on the S.S. Lane Victory, docked in San Pedro harbor.
       Originally titled 3 Ninja Kids, the film was changed to 3 Ninjas shortly after The Walt Disney Company paid $2 million for North American rights, as stated in a 7 Aug 1992 St. Petersburg Times article.
       3 Ninjas was accompanied in theaters by a Walt Disney Television Animation short film called Petal to the Metal, starring a bobcat named Bonkers.
       Critics remarked about the film’s formulaic and derivative story, but admired its entertainment value for children. The creators freely admitted they borrowed heavily from The Karate Kid (1984, see entry), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990, see entry), and Home Alone (1990, see entry), among others.
       End credits contain the following acknowledgments: “Special thanks: Tony Alda; Joannie Avery; Mr. Griffith; Oak Hills Elementary School; Jessica Stevens; Shannon Chang; Bruce Franklin; crew & volunteers of the S.S. Lane Victory; Michael Melby; Justin Berfield; Lorne Berfield; Troy Power; Jun Chung; Bradley Solomon; Jon Turtle and Richard Halsey.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Nov 1992.
---
Daily Variety
3 Aug 1992
p. 14
Hollywood Reporter
3 Aug 1992
p. 6, 20
Long Beach Press-Telegram
10 Aug 1992
Section F, p. 5
Los Angeles Times
4 Aug 1992
Calendar, p. 2
Los Angeles Times
7 Aug 1992
Calendar, p. 8
New York Times
7 Aug 1992
p. 5
Screen International
15 May 1992.
---
Screen International
29 May 1992.
---
St. Petersburg Times (FL)
7 Aug 1992
p. 8
Variety
10 Aug 1992
pp. 55-56
Variety
24 Aug 1992
p. 83
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Starring:
as Grandpa
as Sam Douglas
as Jessica Douglas
as Emily
as Brown
as Rushmore
as Marcus
[and]
as Hammer
Co-Starring:
as The Bully
[and]
as The Bully
Featuring:
as Babysitter
as store owner
[and]
as FBI Agent Green
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Touchstone Pictures Presents
In association with Global Venture Hollywood, Inc.
A Film by Jon Turteltaub
A Global Venture Hollywood Production in association with Sheen Productions, Inc.
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc.
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Co-prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Co-exec prod
Line prod
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Addl photog
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Cam loader
Cam asst
Steadicam op
[Steadi]cam asst
Gaffer
Best boy
Elec/Generator
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Stills photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dir
Asst to Petruccelli
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dresser
Lead person
Const coord
Prop master
Asst props
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward supv
Set costumer
MUSIC
Mus performed and mixed by
Orch
Asst mus eng
SOUND
Prod services by
Boom man
Post-prod sd facility
Digital dial ed
Foley rec
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley artist
ADR rec
Supv sd ed
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Sd ed
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Dubbing rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff coord
Digital eff ed
Digital eff ed
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Swing makeup/Hair
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Project consultant
Unit coord
Scr supv
Prod coord
Asst coord
Prod assoc
Loc mgr
Asst loc
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Honeywagon driver
Studio teacher
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Asst to prods
First aid
First aid, Rescues Unlimited
Helicopter pilot
Dollies provided by
Prod equip provided by
STAND INS
Stunt coord
2d stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Prints by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Kid Power," written by Rick Marvin & William Griffin, song performed by Will Roc.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Series:
Alternate Title:
3 Ninja Kids
Release Date:
1 August 1992
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles preview: 1 August 1992
Los Angeles opening: 7 August 1992
New York opening: 7 August 1992
Copyright Claimant:
Global Film Enterprises, Inc.
Copyright Date:
23 February 1993
Copyright Number:
PA620753
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Duration(in mins):
84
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
South Korea, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31916
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Brothers Samuel, Jeffrey, and Michael Douglas spend the summer at the cabin of their Japanese grandfather, Mori Tanaka, who has trained them in ninja martial arts. To prove their mettle, the Douglas boys ambush their grandfather’s car as he returns home, but he outwits them and jumps into a tree. One day, Grandpa gives each boy a ninja mask and assigns ninja names, just as his father once did for him. Samuel becomes “Rocky,” Jeffrey “Colt,” and Michael “Tum Tum.” The boys ask if their father, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent Sam Douglas, will be home when they return the next day, and Grandpa explains that his son-in-law is a busy man in a “troublesome job.” Meanwhile, Sam Douglas and other FBI agents are working undercover, buying munitions from illegal arms dealer Hugo Snyder. When they try to arrest him, Snyder’s team of ninjas intervenes, enabling him to escape. Returning to his base, Snyder tells his minion, Brown, that he needs to enlist Mori Tanaka, a former business partner, to train new and better ninjas. At Mori’s cabin, Jeffrey “Colt” Douglas looks at a photograph of his Japanese grandfather and blonde grandmother, and sees the hand of a third person in the picture. He asks his grandfather who it belongs to, but Mori Tanaka is busy talking on the telephone to his daughter, Jessica Douglas. At dinner, Grandpa quizzes the boys on ninja codes and they repeat what they have learned: A ninja uses whatever is around him to trick his enemies; he is honest and good; his mind, body, and spirit are joined as one; he has discipline and self-control; he loves nature; he never fights a ... +


Brothers Samuel, Jeffrey, and Michael Douglas spend the summer at the cabin of their Japanese grandfather, Mori Tanaka, who has trained them in ninja martial arts. To prove their mettle, the Douglas boys ambush their grandfather’s car as he returns home, but he outwits them and jumps into a tree. One day, Grandpa gives each boy a ninja mask and assigns ninja names, just as his father once did for him. Samuel becomes “Rocky,” Jeffrey “Colt,” and Michael “Tum Tum.” The boys ask if their father, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent Sam Douglas, will be home when they return the next day, and Grandpa explains that his son-in-law is a busy man in a “troublesome job.” Meanwhile, Sam Douglas and other FBI agents are working undercover, buying munitions from illegal arms dealer Hugo Snyder. When they try to arrest him, Snyder’s team of ninjas intervenes, enabling him to escape. Returning to his base, Snyder tells his minion, Brown, that he needs to enlist Mori Tanaka, a former business partner, to train new and better ninjas. At Mori’s cabin, Jeffrey “Colt” Douglas looks at a photograph of his Japanese grandfather and blonde grandmother, and sees the hand of a third person in the picture. He asks his grandfather who it belongs to, but Mori Tanaka is busy talking on the telephone to his daughter, Jessica Douglas. At dinner, Grandpa quizzes the boys on ninja codes and they repeat what they have learned: A ninja uses whatever is around him to trick his enemies; he is honest and good; his mind, body, and spirit are joined as one; he has discipline and self-control; he loves nature; he never fights a battle he cannot win; he never uses his power on those weaker than himself. And he is never overconfident. A limousine arrives and several ninjas surround Mori Tanaka as Hugo Snyder approaches. When Grandpa and the three boys defeat the ninjas, Snyder offers Mori a “fortune” to teach his fighters. However, he warns Mori that the life and honor of his daughter, Jessica Douglas, may be in danger if her husband, Sam, does not cease his investigation. Out of earshot, Rocky, Colt, and Tum Tum watch as the two adults discuss their father, and hug Grandpa after Snyder leaves. Mori teaches the boys a special technique that can be used only in defense of their lives. He explains there are secret places on the body where a blow can stop the enemy in his tracks and make him forget what happened. The boys practice on a dummy whose eyes light up whenever a fist or foot hits the pressure points. Mori drives the boys home to their parents’ suburban neighborhood, and Rocky’s girl friend, Emily, is there to greet them. Rocky, Colt, and Tum Tum are anxious to tell their father about their new ninja identities, but Sam Douglas is distracted by his job and has to leave with his partner, Agent Kurl. Emily tries to rekindle her relationship with Rocky, but he is shy and awkward. Meanwhile, Hugo Snyder plots to hold the children hostage until he has completed his mission, shipping missiles to Colonel Ferq. Since the FBI has his operation under constant surveillance, he needs free-lance kidnappers. Brown offers his sister’s son, Fester, who has done messenger work for Snyder’s operation in the past. When Brown contacts Fester, the young man is robbing a convenience store with his “surfer-dude” cronies, Marcus and Hammer. Fester and his friends drive to the Douglas home, but are frightened away when they see several federal agents. The next morning, the would-be kidnappers try to snatch the brothers as they ride their bicycles to school, but Fester bumps his van into a police car. Meanwhile, two local bullies steal Emily’s bicycle. At the school playground, Rocky and Colt challenge the thieves to a basketball game to win back the bike, and defeat them handily with ninja teamwork. When Fester telephones Brown to report that he still has not nabbed the boys, Hugo Snyder orders him to complete his mission before midnight. Later, Mori Tanaka follows Hugo Snyder and his ninjas to a ship at the harbor and takes photographs. That evening, a babysitter arrives at the Douglas house and Jessica Douglas goes to dinner with her husband. Colt finds a photograph in his father’s file folder that matches the image of his grandparents at Grandpa’s cabin, but the third person is fully visible. Colt recognizes him as the man who came to Grandpa’s cabin, Hugo Snyder. The brothers cannot believe their grandfather is in business with a criminal, but fear that if they tell their father, he will no longer let them visit Grandpa. Later, Fester, Hammer, and Marcus rob a pizza man, deliver the food to the Douglas house, and lock the babysitter in the closet. Rocky, Colt, and Tum Tum fend them off with booby traps, oil, jellybeans, hot sauce, liquid laxative, and other household items, in addition to a few ninja kicks. Fester lures next-door neighbor Emily to the house and grabs her, but the laxative sends two of the would-be kidnappers running for the bathroom, and the ninja brothers knock the third unconscious. However, Rushmore, Snyder's large Asian henchman, arrives with a band of ninjas and takes the boys prisoner. When Sam and Jessica arrive home, Emily gives them a note from the kidnappers, which reads: “Lay off Snyder.” At that moment, Grandpa Mori arrives in ninja gear, saying the bad guys have a ship in the harbor. Sam already knows, as his agents followed Mori during his investigation of Snyder. Rocky, Colt, and Tum Tum are taken to a cargo ship, where a hundred ninjas are training. Brown reveals that their grandfather was Snyder’s ninja teacher. Outside the ship, Mori disarms sentries and climbs aboard on mooring ropes. The brothers lure a guard into their room, knock him unconscious, and run through the corridors, fighting Snyder’s ninjas. Grandpa joins the battle, and Brown renders himself unconscious by running into a pipe. The boys meet their match when the huge Asian henchman, Rushmore, challenges them. Grandpa appears on a catwalk above and tells them to remember the dummy training. The boys kick Rushmore in the secret places and he becomes disoriented. As ninjas attack, Grandpa dives into the action and challenges Hugo Snyder to a personal battle. Tum Tum gives his grandfather jellybeans for luck. Mori Tanaka and Hugo Snyder fight to the death with swords. Snyder blinds Mori with a pepper bomb, but the old Japanese ninja jams jellybeans in Snyder’s mouth and knocks him down. As Snyder grabs a gun, FBI agents, led by Sam Douglas, rush in for an arrest. Afterward, Sam assures his sons that they can still spend their summers with Grandpa. The Douglas family, including Grandpa, goes out for pizza. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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