Norwegian Ninja (UK - DVD R2)
Marcus isn't too sure what this odd Norwegian movie is all about really...
Norwegian Ninja is the skewed vision of Arne Treholt, the Norwegian politician and diplomat who in 1985 was convicted of high treason and espionage. Later a book was released by Thomas Cappelen Malling (the director of this movie by the way), called Ninja Technique II: Invisibility, which was said to be a military manual written by Treholt. Of course something this odd gained a bit of a cult following and now we have the movie.
Made with a very authentic seventies visual style Norwegian Ninja is seventy five minutes of oddness. It didn’t help that I didn’t have a clue about the real story of Treholt, and even with the opening introduction to events I sort of felt set adrift from knowing what was really going on throughout this fairly short film.
The movie had the feel of a Life Aquatic affair (though nowhere near as good). There’s a whole cast of oddballs, a whole slew of weird ninja-esq visuals and some very weird feeling spy antics. Some of it was quite amusing but most of the time I just found myself scratching my head. It could have been the language barrier and missing the timing of the ‘jokes’ but the mood of Norwegian Ninja seemed to be taking itself uber seriously with the absurdity of it all being what made it funny.
By the end of the short run time I didn’t really know how I felt about this one—it just sort of washed over me. There were some amusing parts but overall I felt like I’d missed the gag a lot of the time and despite wanting the weirdness to take hold of me and for me to ‘get it’ that revelation never really arrived.
Well with an authentic seventies feel to the visuals it’s hard to say the transfer here was good, beyond its attention to detail being spot on. Colours are pretty awful (intentionally), the image is soft and grimy (intentionally) and of course there’s the odd bit of bleeding and murkiness (the opening under water scene is so iffy it’s not always easy to make out exactly what the hell is going on).
Norwegian Ninja feels like a seventies instructional video for most of the first half. It slips into a more modern filmmaking feel in the second half with cleaner brighter visuals but to look all polished and modern is not the agenda here at all and overall authenticity wins out to sell the visual style.
The repetitive score sounds great within the mix and there’s the odd spark of atmospheric effects that really do seem to come out of nowhere, so really, Norwegian Ninja is quite impressive on the audio front.
Dialogue is pretty good and strong and there’s a good level of bass throughout, especially in the more action based scenes. It’s not exactly a show off title but I have to say I noticed the highlights here whenever the movie had its little show off moments.
The disc opens with trailers for Fair Game and N.E.D.S., then hits the movie specific stuff with just over seven minutes worth of deleted scenes, as well as six extra scenes ranging from a minute to six minutes long. There’s also the B-roll footage (03:16), TV spots (00:34), teasers (01:54) and trailer (01:46) to get us started.
Moving into the featurettes we have ‘Fight Choreography’ (08:27), which is typical stuff for this sort of featurette really, ‘Kielland’ (04:47), which looks at the movie's model work, ‘Music Studio’ (06:49), which looks at the making of the score, as well as ‘Skycar’ (02:02) and ‘Torpedo’ (3:58), which look at a couple of the vehicles in the movie and some of the clever tricks a small budget movie can pull out of the bag.
The only extra here that really sparked my interest was the ‘Interview’ (13:35) which has the makers discussing the history of the project in front of an audience which was quite funny and sort of warmed me to the movie a little more than I had after watching it.
I can see a lot in Norwegian Ninja that a small cult audience might eat up but for me it felt like I’d missed the joke a little bit and as the movie went on I felt myself distancing more and more from it.
The disc itself has an okay selection of features and okay A/V so it’s worth a look for those of you wanting something offbeat but those less inclined to go with something celebrating oddness won’t get much from this one.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 18th April 2011
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Norwegian, Stereo 2.0 Norwegian
Extras: Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Bonus Scenes, B-Roll, Trailers, Music Video, Interview
Easter Egg: No
Director: Thomas Cappelen Malling
Cast: Mads Ousdal, Jon Øigarden, Linn Stokke. Amund Maarud
Genre: Action, Comedy and Drama
Length: 75 minutes
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