The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were the staple of my childhood. I remember watching them during my Saturday morning cartoon regimen growing up. For those of you unfamiliar with the series, it was a cartoon about these…well… teenage mutant ninja turtles that were human sized, and pretty epic fighters. They lived in the sewers, fought crime, and ate pizza.
In the late 80's, early 90's, they turned this cartoon series into a live action film…or…two…or three. To be honest, it wasn’t half bad. It had major plot holes, and was a little disturbing in that the live action ninja turtles freaked me out. However, it was fun to watch my cartoon come to life.
As you can imagine, these movies contained an incredible amount of stage combat. The fight scene I chose is the opening sequence for the second movie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. Check it out:
This fight is a serious fight gone gimmick. What is a gimmick fight? It’s basically any fight that contains some sort of main component that is a gag or mockery that turns what would ordinarily be incredibly serious, into more of joke. For instance, throughout this entire fight, you see the Ninja Turtles, fighting with yo-yos, pretending to be an inflatable punching bag, and yelling things like, “Combat Cold Cuts!” (as seen at 4:21). There is nothing wrong with a gimmick fight, especially when it is done correctly. This one was definitely well put-together.
What I like most about this fight is that they don’t leave anything unexplained. Sometimes, you’ll see a fight where there are people visibly “waiting” for the next move so they can continue with the choreography. But in this fight, even when there are fighters standing still, you can tell what is going on internally to make them stop in their tracks. For example, at 3:05, the bad guys stop and watch as Michelangelo shows them a trick with his yo-yo. While ordinarily this would not necessarily stop someone who is trying to kill you, within the context of the story, it makes sense. These bad guys are clearly not smart. In fact, one of them even takes their mask off when they are first told that they are “under arrest” (see 1:03). Not to mention the fact that they just left their trucks open for the world to see. (see 0:37) This suggests these criminals are complete idiots. So, why not stop when someone tells them to, in order to watch a trick?
I also really enjoyed watching the very first segment where the Pizza Guy wins his fight with three of the criminals. His attacks are all real martial arts moves, his form is good, and the timing of when he hits the bad guys and when they react is perfect. Also, as stated before, not once is there a moment where a bad guy is just standing around because he is waiting for the next move.
While the plot line in this movie is cheesy, it’s worth the watch just to see the fighting. It’s a very classic approach to stage combat with a twist of humor.