Review By: Gringo
First of all came the bog-standard review of the movie itself, complete with wacky pictures. Then, more out of desperation than having something worth writing, came my next Ninja Academy review, this time of the movie's soundtrack. Ever since then, I've been wanting to write another article about the movie, simply because it left such an imprint on my damaged mind. After all, the movie review was one of this site's first ever articles, so it's got a lot to answer for.
I doubt you've been waiting in anticipation, but here is the news! I finally managed to come up with an idea for a third article based around the low-budget comedy movie Ninja Academy. Excitement in your pants! As the title suggests, it's a look at what happened after the movie was released.
Or, more precisely, what happened to the lead actors. This old guy played Chiba, the owner of the academy and a grumpy old sort. I'm only going to focus on the academy's staff and the freaks who enrolled, because I want to. Anyway, Mr. Okamura managed to maintain some level of employment after the movie, albeit mostly in martial arts-related fluff like 9½ Ninjas and L.E.T.H.A.L. Ladies: Return To Savage Beach. He's even got his own website, and it's fair to say he's the one actor from the movie that's survived in the movie industry. Even if nobody wants to watch any of his movies.
The poor, magnificent bastard. Mr. Egan played spoilt rich kid Josh, and I've already celebrated the fact he made this, another shit movie called Glitch! (it's not hyperbole when I say that movie is quite possibly the worst creation ever) and then disappeared. After making Ninja Academy, he was an extra twice on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Now he's either dead, not working in the movie industry anymore. Or maybe he still wanders the streets of Hollywood, clutching a bottle of whisky and reminiscing over his quality lines like "I'm a great believer in exercise...I used to have the butler jogging for me back home".
Kelly Randall - who played Chiba's assistant and daughter, Gail - seems to have vanished after making this movie. Sadly, as you'll see from the rest of this list, it's something that happened to quite a few of the actors. Mysterious! Still, I'd disappear if I saw the comments freaks went on to make after the movie's release. Well, one freak anyway. Over at Amazon, one of the user's reviews for this movie simply says, "A real funny movie, Kelly Randall was beautiful in the movie". Oh, and the person gives their review the header "fun! fun! fun!" One fun is not enough! Kelly Randall's probably been in hiding since reading that review.
And still the failed movie careers continue to spawn from the hellish mess that was Ninja Academy. After playing the secret agent 007-11 (no, really) in this movie, Michael David probably had high hopes of stardom, perhaps even his own spin-off movie, 007-11 In Venice...Italy. Sorry, you won't get that joke unless you watch the movie. Haha! Got you at last! You go rent Ninja Academy now! Anyway, his career went nowhere fast. This was his only movie. The IMDB got confused and credited him with a role in 1999's blockbuster Planet Patrol, but that was another guy called Michael David, and it was soon fixed, leaving him with just Ninja Academy to his name. Take that, 007-11!
I think Jeff Robinson was perhaps the best actor in the entire movie. Mostly because he only had one line (he played a mime, after all), and it was "That's one dumb son of a bitch." For the rest of the movie, he managed to be a mime that (a) was funny and (b) didn't want to make me punch him in the face. Considering how much I normally hate mimes, that's pretty good work. Amazingly for a Ninja Academy cast member, Mr. Robinson is still doing well in the acting world, and seems like an all-round decent guy. He even gave us an interview, to update you all on his life, so go read it!
This woman was only in the movie to have her 'assets' (yes, her big breasts, you thick sod) shown off. Don't believe me? Look at her credits following this movie. She played Hooker (not a surname, but exactly what you think it means) in Good Girls Don't. I have no idea what the movie's like, but it's a safe bet the rest of the title reads 'watch fucking shit like this'. Ms. Stevens must have run off to a nunnery after making that pile of crap, because she's effectively disappeared! Oh, Ninja Academy! How can you claim so many careers? So evil!
What the fuck? Someone from the cast who's still working in Hollywood? But it's true! This woman - called Lisa, remember this important fact - played a character called...Lisa. That movie! So crazy! And you know something? She's still making movies! Not in a Gerald Okamura two-a-week way, but still enough to prove she's not dead. Okay, so she's playing characters with names like Enola Rubinstein (in that seminal classic Billboard Dad), but at least she shook off the academy curse. Success!
Personally, I don't think this guy, who played amateur gung-ho survivalist George, did too badly for himself. He's had a steady career off-camera on the stage in Los Angeles' many theatres, writes some of his own productions, and also gave us an interview quite some time ago. Breaking the curse of Ninja Academy must be very difficult, but it's nice to know that along with Mr. Okamura, there's still some people who were involved with this movie that are out there, making a living for themselves. I like him, so I won't say anything sarcastic, I'm afraid. On with the next person!
This guy played Claude, the bumbling oaf who goes to the academy to build up his confidence. Instead, he ends up knocking lots of stuff over. Hilarious! You could say it's funny that he's not been in a movie since 1995, but it's really quite sad. However, don't get upset, because this is another success story! Seems Mr. Freiberger is quite the stage star, getting good reviews for his one-man show, They Call Me Mister Fry. Although I saw a picture from the show of him wielding a sword made out of balloons. You be the judge.
Well, there you have it. The relatively incomplete story of what happened to the main cast of Ninja Academy after the movie's straight-to-video release. I could have included Art Camacho, who played the bad guy Addleman's sidekick, but then it would have become a long, boring list of everyone involved with the movie, even down to the guy whose sole contribution was to get thrown off a balcony. As it is, it's just a short, boring list.
Believe me, I like a lot about this movie in a dumb sort of way (minus the pointless nudity thrown in for the 1980's video audience) and it's sad that almost no one on this list went anywhere fast after making Ninja Academy. As you've seen, several of them disappeared completely. In fact, being in this movie seems to have been something of a curse. Except for Jonathan Gift, the writer of the movie, who seems to be doing well for himself, so I guess he was one of the lucky ones.
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