Afro Ninja: Destiny (DVD Review)11 Mar, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Stars Mark Hicks, Jim Kelly, Marla Gibbs, Jim Black, Natascha Hopkins.
Tired of being hailed as “the guy who falls flat on his face on the Internet,” veteran stuntman Mark Hicks gets the last laugh by taking an embarrassing 13-second YouTube clip (that reportedly generated 80 million hits) of himself from a failed 2004 Nike commercial audition and turns it into a workable feature-length film.
Hicks (who won three stuntman awards for Rush Hour 2) plays hapless postal-store employee Reggie, who stumbles upon a 30-year-old package from Japan containing magic Nunchaku sticks that transform him into Afro Ninja, complete with 1970s Afro hair.
Carson’s girlfriend, Sandra (stuntwoman Natascha Hopkins, who is destined for greater roles), quickly warms to her newly confident (and buff) boyfriend. Together, the two take on a corrupt mayor who is on the take from local martial arts mobster Black Lightning (James Black from “The Starter Wife”).
The plot is goofball, with production values and acting straight out of a ‘B’-movie playbook. To its credit, however, the movie does not resort to cliché stereotypes, and Hicks is charismatic and engaging. You want him to succeed, and he does with aplomb in the martial arts fight scenes that are well choreographed and realistic.
A fan of Bruce Lee karate films, Hicks also cast ’70s martial arts star Jim Kelly (Enter the Dragon) as his father, Cleavon.