Beverly Hills Ninja [1997]

A slapstick comedy starring Chris Farley, Beverly Hills Ninja is part prop-gag movie and part testament to the late comedian's physical comedic abilities. As a baby, Haru (Farley) appeared on the coastal shores of Japan. Legend has it that a foreigner would arrive and become the greatest ninja ever, known as the "Great White Ninja." As Haru grew, it became apparent: he was not the one. But when a beautiful stranger named Sally (Nicollette Sheridan) appears at the dojo seeking a ninja's help, Haru finds his calling. Through a series of mix-ups (generally caused by Haru himself), Haru is framed for murder and he follows Sally to Beverly Hills to set things right. Finding out Sally's boyfriend is a counterfeiter and murderer, Haru with the help of hotel bellboy Joey (Chris Rock) and unknowingly with the help of his ninja brother Gobei (Robin Shou) takes down the counterfeit ring and finds his place among the ninja clan. Beverly Hills Ninja is full of individual comic gags that are hilarious in their purity--call it sadistic, but sometimes it's just plain funny watching a guy unwittingly walk into a lamppost while carrying on a conversation. Farley was a master at these tried-and-true gags, which reach right back into the origins of comedy. But it's not all slapstick; a scene where Haru is so taken by dancers at a local strip bar that he joins in is reminiscent of the mud-wrestling scene from Stripes. Beverly Hills Ninja may be considered a low-brow romp, but a romp it is nonetheless. --Shannon Gee

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