Screener Review: ZOMBIE NINJAS VS. BLACK OPS (2015)

Along with all the absurd Sharknado movies, I'm not really keen on a lot of mashups unless one garners my attention. Zombie Ninjas vs. Black Ops just so happens to be one of those, if not for a mere appeal to the martial arts genre by way of said ninjas, and offers another noticeable effort in combining thrilling action and suspenseful horror, even in the company of its fair share of silly moments.

Aussie film duo, writer Kylie Claude and directo Rody Claude present the story of Dillon, played by Adam T. Perkins. Burned out by war and the lack of a decent paycheck for his family, he still looks to protect and serve with less risk through Saisei Security, a private security and arms company. Little does he know of what really goes on past the lush walls and big bi-weekly payday until he and others find themselves amidst a swarm of reanimated and seemingly invincible black-clad killers, and his former black-ops colleagues on the scene and under orders less noble than desire. With time running out, the death toll increasing and danger lurking in every corner, it's up to Dillon to protect a young scientist and the secrets she carries, or the next moment will be their last.

From top to bottom, Zombie Ninjas VS. Black Ops is an all-out gonzo bit of fanfare for the B-movie crowd, rich with all the necessary tropes of a horror movie, including the occasional silliness and obviousness of its death scenes. The action makes it slightly more fun to enjoy with key performances by Perkins and actors Korum Ellis and Jason Britz, actor and stuntman Kenny Low and UFC heavyweight familiar, actor Soa “The Hulk” Palelei to name a few.

Collectively though, I will say that the action overall makes the film half-and-half; Perhaps the biggest moment representive of the title comes from Ellis's own sequences in which he shines best at the start of the third act, thus doing his own supporting role much justice. However, by the start of the final action piece, we get shortchanged with a sequence meant largely to be suggestive through the music score as a tool for dramatic intensity. No foley effects, no gun shots or other fight sounds, nothing, which really feels like a huge letdown, and mainly because at the end of the day, what you want to do most with a small scale indie action film is make the most of it. Instead, what we get for but a few minutes of the final act is a wasted opportunity, and gladly this isn't to say that the film is not without its other merits.

Perkins bodes nicely in the role of Dillon with Britza playing a menacing A.K., a black-ops squad leader who ends up at odds with our hero over their unresolved past. The rest of the acting from our cast left just a tad more to be desired to say the least apart from Kira Lee Caine whose own character is limited to nothing more than a damsel in distress with exception to a just few sturdy moments throughout.

The film makes great use of its sets to avoid feeling and looking claustrophobic, and the overall pacing of the story tends to lag a few times here and there. Thankfully though, we're not too inebriated by the film's intentionally slower moments before the action picks up. Our titular zombie ninjas are lighting-fast - perhaps something that didn't need a whole lot of frenetic camrera work in a few key sequences - and add to the fervor that comes with cheering on our living protaginists no matter how evil a few of them are.

Zombie Ninjas VS. Black Ops was a film I wanted to love, as I genuinely wish to with most independent action movies. It's an outright silly film with some forgiveable flaws, but suffers the misfortune of stumbling hard on its final fight scene and ultimately throwing off the tone of the action. The remainder of the film, however, is full of spectacle and gore, and fun to enjoy and relax the brain to, and in that regard, if you're into independent action and horror with a dose of martial arts and a bit of the ridiculous, Zombie Ninjas VS. Black Ops is definitely your speed.

The film is now available on VoD in the U.S. and Canada wherever movies are sold. Head over to the official website for more info.


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