MOVIE REVIEW : '3 Ninjas' Knuckle Up to an Eco Enemy

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The new "3 Ninjas Knuckle Up" brings back those three martial-arts whizzes, the brothers Rocky (Michael Treanor), Colt (Max Elliott Slade) and Tum Tum (Chad Power) for a decidedly elementary but also lively family action-adventure.

Trained by their lovable grandfather (Victor Wong), these youthful do-gooders this time take on a suitably ruthless villain (Charles Napier, amusing as always) who is dumping into a landfill toxic wastes that are commencing to claim the lives of a Native American community.

Things get very nasty, but our trio remains undaunted, even taking on at one point a large gang of outlaw bikers holed up in a old Western town set. (The credits list no fewer than 80 stunt persons.)

Director Simon S. Sheen maintains a breakneck pace, and he and writer Alex S. Kim neatly balance the serious issue at stake with plenty of humor along with the derring-do.

The martial-arts sequences are zesty, a description that applies to this well-crafted movie as a whole.

* MPAA rating: PG-13, for nonstop ninja action. Times guidelines: Although the action is in fact nearly constant, it is not excessively violent, except for the very young .

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

'3 Ninjas Knuckle Up'

Victor Wong: Grandpa

Charles Napier: S Jack

Michael Treanor: Rocky

Max Elliott Slade: Colt

A TriStar Pictures presentation. Director Simon S. Sheen. Producer Martha Chang. Executive producer James Kang. Screenplay by Alex S. Kim. Cinematographer Eugene Shlugleit. Editor Pam Choules. Costumes Scillia A. Hernandez. Music Gary Stevan Scott. Production designer Don Dayna Mayhew. Art director Phil Brandes. Set decorator Shirley Starks. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.

* In general release throughout Southern California.

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