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Tongan Ninja is a 2002 martial arts/musical parody, co-written by and starring Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords fame. It's plot is loosely based on the 1972 Bruce Lee movie Way of the Dragon, and along the way it playfully spoofs just about every martial arts trope in existence.
The story begins when a young boy named Sione (Sam Manu) survives a plane crash and finds himself stranded on an uncharted pacific island. After seeing his father tragically eaten by fish, the boy was trained by the locals in the art of Ninjitsu and grew to become the most dangerous ninja alive. Upon learning that the peaceful owners of a New Zealand eatery have been targeted by Mr Big's "So-Called-Syndicate", Sione's wise old mentor Mr Magasaki sends him to combat this terrifying threat. The Tongan Ninja must work his way through a host of formidable foes, including Knife Man ("he's good with knives!"), Gun Man ("he's good with guns!") and Hench Man ("he's good with...henches.") before battling the dreaded - and very hairy - Action Fighter (aka Marvin), his childhood nemesis and all-round Jerkass, who turns out to be the long-lost son of crime-boss Mr Big.
This movie contains the following tropes:
- Affectionate Parody: Of the entire martial arts genre.
- Arch Enemy: Marvin/Action Fighter is this to Sione.
- Battle Strip
- Big Bad: The aptly-named "Mr Big".
- Bound and Gagged: "I'd like to see you escape now you've got tape on your mouth Miss Lee!"
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: When he's fighting Gun Man, Sione actually grabs the Visible Boom Mic (that's been dangling in shot for a while) and starts deflecting bullets with it.
- Bond Villain Stupidity
- Captain Obvious: About 95% of the dialogue qualifies.
Action Fighter: Yes, he is my father, and whats more...I am his son!
- everyone gasps*
- Carpet of Virility: Parodied when Action Fighter takes off his shirt and reveals a bizarre and very copious formation of chest hair.
Mr Big: Just like his mother...
- Chase Scene: When Sione rides in hot pursuit of Mr Big's Mooks, and seems to be pre-empting their every move:
- Chop Sockey: Parodied, of course.
- Deceased Parents Are the Best: Sione's loving father was eaten by a fish. Also, Miss Lee's parents were squished by Godzilla, leaving her to be raised by her uncle.
- Diabolical Mastermind: Mr Big, supposedly.
- Distressed Damsel: Miss Lee.
- Elvis Impersonator: Action Fighter in the opening credits, quite inexplicably.
- Enfant Terrible: Marvin. Doubles up as Evil Former Friend, assuming he and Sione were friends (and that's the most obvious explanation for Marvin being brought on the plane ride with Sione and his dad in the first place - aside from Rule of Funny).
- Evil All Along: Chef Guy! And very Obviously Evil from the beginning at that.
- Eye Scream: Action Fighter references this: "So I gouged this guy's eyes out, then I swapped them round and replaced them...as a joke."
- Fake Nationality: Played for laughs with the obviously white guys playing "Chinese" waiters.
- Fish Out of Water: Sione when he visits New Zealand, being completely unfamiliar with modern civilisation and technology.
- Freudian Excuse: During the final standoff, Action Fighter actually admits that the reason he's such a jerkass is because he's always been jealous of Sione (specifically Sione's close relationship with his father). It looks for a second like he's about to pull a Heel Face Turn, but it turns out Sione simply zoned out for a minute and wasn't listening at all. The fight then continues as if nothing had happened.
- Funny Bruce Lee Noises
- Giggling Villain: Asian Sidekick
- Gosh Dang It to Heck: Played for laughs with Mr Big and his mooks, who all go to baffling lengths to avoid swearing.
Mr Big: What the flup did you say?!
- Groin Attack
- The Hero: Sione, obviously.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Most notably Jemaine Clement as Action Fighter.
- Hong Kong Dub: Taken to absurd levels. Quite often full lines of dialogue will be issuing from a character's closed mouth.
- Info Dump
- Tongan Mind Trick
- Kensington Gore: Parodied. When Sione has blood coming from his mouth, it's pink.
- Knife Nut: Knife Man, naturally.
- Large Ham: Action Fighter
- Like Father, Like Son:
Mr Big: Make my coffee extra strong.
Action Fighter: I also take my coffee...extra strong!
Asian Sidekick: It is as foretold in the prophecy!
- Lip Lock
- All Devouring Black Hole Loan Sharks: The So-Called-Syndicate.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: And whats more...Luke is his son.
- Musical: The movie is sort of a musical, although the songs are infrequent enough that each one feels like a Big Lipped Alligator Moment. Especially the Chef's "Chop Suey" song, where a bunch of brightly-dressed dancers and backing vocalists appear out of nowhere and then abruptly disappear afterwards.
- Off with His Head: Sione manages to decapitate a guy by kicking him in the head.
- Old Master: Mr Magasaki
- Overlord, Jr.: Action Fighter
- Parental Substitute: Miss Lee's uncle, and Mr Magasaki to Sione.
- Power Glows
- Raised by Natives: Sione and Marvin.
- Slippery Skid: A variation, wherein the villains try to sabotage Sione's vehicle by dropping a single drawing pin on the road behind them, and then a pebble.
- The Syndicate: The Nebulous Evil Organisation is literally named "The So-Called Syndicate".
- Title Theme Tune: "The Tale of the Tongan Ninja", a spoof of the archetypal Bond themes, features Action Fighter writhing around in an Elvis costume, spouting some truly bizarre lyrics (they were written by Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie so that's to be expected).
- There Are No Police: Lampshaded. The So-Called Syndicate owns the Police. Somehow.
- Too Dumb to Live: Practially everyone. The entire plot relies upon the fact that the protagonists and villains are all equally ridiculous and dim-witted.
- Troubled Backstory Flashback: When Sione catches sight of a pond, he's reminded of his father's death and starts to angst.
- Vehicular Sabotage: Backfires massively.
- What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous?: As a child, Action Fighter used to put spiders in Sione's futon! What a bastard! (He also deliberately caused the plane crash that stranded them on the island and laughed as Sione's father was eaten by fish, but it was those damn spiders that really got on Sione's nerves)
- What the Fu Are You Doing?
- You Fight Like a Cow: "You fight like a baby...a dead baby!"