HOFF 2011: Norwegian Ninja
Here is what is true about Norwegian Ninja. In 1984 Norwegian diplomat Arne Treholt was convicted of high treason and selling state secrets. He was convicted to a twenty year prison term and served eight of them before being pardoned in 1992. Treholt has been living in exile on the island of Cyprus ever since. He has always maintained his innocence regarding the charges he faced.
What is also true is that around that time during the Cold War period NATO and the CIA secretly operated what are known as Stay-Behind Forces throughout Europe. The intention for these groups were that they were to be a built-in resistance should the Russians invade. What happened was either there was an itch that needed to be scratched or they were following orders but some of these groups carried out terrorist attacks on friendly soil. The purpose was to stoke fear of Soviet invasion and allow the military and secret services influence across the region. So, in 1978 Norwegian police discovered a large cache of weapons on the property of Hans Otto Meyer. Meyer was a Norwegian Intelligence Service officer and believed to be the head of the Norwegian Stay Behind Force.
So Thomas Malling takes these two documented accounts and molds them into one story. Then he finds a fair share of archival footage which shows how real those circumstances were and how real the fear was. Then he creates a story about a commune of Ninjas, who live on an island protected by Feng Shui, who were sanctioned by the King to protect Norway and her interests. Malling pits Treholt and Meyer against each other, making their stories one. One wants the Ninjas disbanded, the other wants to expose the other's corruption.
Take the real life accounts of a Norwegian diplomat using archival footage and ask a simple question, 'What if Treholt was a Ninja and these events were all part of a greater scheme and plan?' Suddenly the true life accounts take on these fantastical elements, like discovering that if you stand on the seat of a playground swing your life changes. Yeah, the story is the same; it just became much more awesome though. I mean, NINJAS! Norwegian Ninja walks the fine line between fiction and fantasy. So well, and so convincing is the director's vision, that you could almost believe it to be true. If it weren't for such things as the miniature practical effects, which pay homage to the most popular Norwegian film of all time, the stop animated film Flåklypa Grand Prix, you might just do so.
Though the film feels a touch clunky at times and flow of the narrative suffers a slight bit as a result Norwegian Ninja still delivers plenty laughs and excitement. I'd write more about it but Todd is punching me in either shoulder blade and my arms are beginning to numb up. Someone's been taking Ninja lessons from Malling.
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