I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze

tn_tmnt2summer2016originsTEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES II: THE SECRET OF THE OOZE finds the four rubber turtle people (now with different voices, but I only noticed because Corey Feldman was missing) and their master Splinter the rat co-habitating with locally famous human TV reporter April O’Neil (now played by Paige Turco [THE STEPFATHER, The 100] instead of Judith Hoag). They make a mess of her apartment, order stacks of pizza all day and hang up a swimsuit babe poster. They’re still trying to keep their existence a secret from other humans, but in the opening a young pizza boy named Keno (Ernie Reyes Jr.) witnesses them stopping a robbery, and helps them using his own martial arts skills.

It seems like a pizza deliverer would be the most desirable possible friend for these turtles, because you see they love pizza is one of the main things we have learned about these characters through years of development in many different mediums, from years of comic books, several different animated series, one live action series, one animated movie, two live action(ish) movie franchises and a live tour. Still, they brush him off and return to Splinter-prescribed secrecy until Keno spots them in the apartment while delivering more pizzas. Splinter gives him some fighting and meditation training but tells him to stay out of their fight against Shredder. Keno completely ignores this, and there are no negative consequences. You don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about, rat. Who oozed and made you talk, anyway?

If I remember right, Shredder was savagely murdered in part 1. Now he’s alive again and henchmanned by a guy named Tatsu (Toshishiro Obata) and an army of bug-eyed ninja called The Foot Clan, who are still supposed to be troubled teens (with martial arts training) recruited off the streets. When somebody says “at risk youth,” this is what they mean, they are at risk of becoming mindless ninjas who don’t know what they’re doing and get beaten badly by wisecracking turtle people.

mp_tmnt2This time Shredder steals the last remaining container of “ooze,” the industrial waste that transformed ordinary sewer turtles into musclebound anthropomorphic junk food enthusiasts. His brilliant plan is to use it to turn 2 (two) animals – a turtle and a wolf – into monsters. What better to defeat four highly trained and experienced warrior mutant animals than two that were just born? It can’t fail!

The turtles find a new home in an abandoned subway station and team with a scientist (David Warner, MONEY TALKS) who explains, like, all the scientifical shit about ooze and what not. And puts the ooze into a Bart Simpson glass.

I can respect that they mostly treat this “human sized talking fighting turtles” concept matter of factly. They are weird animal people, but they do action hero things, and have areas of expertise and stuff. There’s a part where one of the turtles (purple?) is hacking into a computer, and they do a good job of not showing how he is typing with three bulbous fingers. Just believe in it and it is real.

Like the first one this is a Golden Harvest production, and it’s impressive to see these elaborate Jim Henson suits doing flips and choreographed fights. This one also has a few notable action people appearing:

*Reyes was a martial arts prodigy, joining his father’s demo team at the age of 6 and co-starring in THE LAST DRAGON and RED SONJA at 13. He also starred as a young karate master with magic powers in the TV show Sidekicks with Gil Gerard. He was the fight double for Donatello in the first TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES and this time got to be out of the rubber suit. Good for him.

As an adult he had a part in THE RUNDOWN and can be spotted in RUSH HOUR 2 and as the skeleton-painted dude that attacks them in the cemetery in INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL. Check that one out by the way. Fun movie, I’m sure almost anybody would enjoy it.

*The wrestler Kevin Nash (THE PUNISHER, DOA: DEAD OR ALIVE, MAGIC MIKE, JOHN WICK) made his movie debut as Super Shredder, the giant version of Shredder. He drinks the ooze to turn himself larger and also somehow it makes his armor grow larger and spikier. This kinda shit is why we seriously need to stop pollution.

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*Toshishiro Obata plays Tatsu, Shredder’s henchman who takes over the Foot Clan for approximately two seconds before Shredder turns up still alive. Tough luck, Tatsu. Obata is the founder of the Shinkendo sword fighting system. According to the bio on its websight, in 1994 he set a world record for splitting a helmet in half. He coordinated swordfighting for AMERICAN YAKUZA and appeared in BLACK RAIN, CHINA O’BRIEN, SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO, RAGE AND HONOR, DEMOLITION MAN and THE HUNTED.

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*Oh yeah, and a baby-faced Michael Jai White appears as one of the youths who show up for the ninja audition.

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If he’s in it after this scene I didn’t spot him, which is too bad. You never see him doing any martial arts even though that must be why they hired him.

*Fight choreographer Pat E. Johnson is a 9th degree black belt in American Tang Soo Do who trained under Chuck Norris and did stunts in ENTER THE DRAGON and BLACK BELT JONES. He choreographed the original four KARATE KID pictures (where he also plays the referee) and the first MORTAL KOMBAT. He also got a story credit on Norris’s A FORCE OF ONE.

*Vanilla Ice is the star of COOL AS ICE.

Yes, the most famous part of the movie is when the battle makes its way into “The Dockshore Club,” where Vanilla Ice is performing. So the turtles are in the middle of the dance floor fighting these monsters, and there are various “jokes” about the clubgoers thinking the club went all out to make the show exciting, etc. Vanilla sees what’s going on and improvises the song “Ninja Rap” about it. And still the least believable part of these scene is that a bunch of grown adults would get dressed up and go to a club to see Vanilla Ice.

I remember the first time I saw a picture of the ninja turtles they reminded me of Howard the Duck, so it’s fitting that here we have the turtles inexplicably on stage performing with a ridiculous band, keytar and all.

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(After their film careers, by the way, the Turtles had a career as a touring rock band.)

In other dated music news, the end credits have some more cheeseball early ’90s dance music, including a song called “Awesome (You Are My Hero)” by Ya Kid K (famous for being featured on Technotronic’s “Pump Up the Jam.”)

The opening scene is interestingly dated. After a montage of people enjoying pizza all around New York City (somebody should cut the intro of Louie into this) we meet Keno in uniform at Roy’s Pizza, going to his scooter to make a delivery. There are some young women talking on the sidewalk, and he says to them, “Hey ladies. Which one of you lucky girls gets to ride with me tonight?”

“Dream on, dweeb,” one of them says.

“Yeah, okay…”

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So that’s two things in a row that aren’t considered cool anymore: hitting on random strangers and fat-shaming. Three if you count mugging. But this was a different time. Like part 1, most of the things that you can tell are humor are pretty befuddling. Most of the jokes are along the lines of, like… Ha ha, they are gonna totally pig out on potato chips!

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Or, Ha ha, these animals like to jerk off to photos of humans!

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But also sometimes it’s like, “I know who Ralph Nader is and I’m gonna make a reference to him.”

Anyway, at the end it’s Keno who throws the garbage can through the window of Roy’s Pizza, starting the riot. Makes you think. There are no easy answers.

At 15 syllables this is the longest title for a movie directed by Michael Pressman, and that’s saying something.

runners up:
TO GILLIAN ON HER 37TH BIRTHDAY (12 syllables)
MAN AGAINST THE MOB: THE CHINATOWN MURDERS (11 syllables)
THE BAD NEWS BEARS IN BREAKING TRAINING (9 syllables)
THE GREAT TEXAS DYNAMITE CHASE (8 syllables)

The screenplay is by the same guy as the first one, Wonder Years writer Todd W. Langen.

History: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a comic book created in 1984 that was adapted into a surprise hit cartoon and toy empire in 1987, before becoming three live action movies and a live action series and another animated series and another animated series after that and an unrelated animated movie and an unrelated live action with animation movie which had a sequel this summer.

 

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 5th, 2016 at 9:30 am and is filed under Action, Comic strips/Super heroes, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

25 Responses to “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze”

  1. PAIGE TURCO IS IN THIS? Well hell, between her and David Warner and Jai White and “Go ninja, go ninja go”, now I’ll have to watch it again.

    Good write-up and image juxtapositions, as well as gratuitous Oprah episode insertion. I’m sure she’s very proud of that moment in her career, right next to that one where she gave everybody in the audience a car.

    True story: the TMNT bought me my first house back in the ’90s. I had a stack of bagged comics up to my knee that I sold to a head shop, which included the first printings of issues TMNT 1-8 from back before Kevin met Julie Strain and had other things on his mind. They fetched enough money for a down payment on a liddle bitty house in the midwest. That was pre-internet and of course, those issues would now pull 20x that amount easy. But cess la vee and all that bullshit.

  2. I watched this not long ago and it’s pretty terrible. I guess the first one was so offensive to parents that they purposely made this one have less fights and it’s totally noticeable.

  3. I re-watched this just a while ago and got a chuckle out of how hard they tried to make this movie more kid friendly after the often pretty dark first one. But even for me it doesn’t really work as anything else besides being time capsule fluff.

    It’s interesting how the current TMNT movie series reflects the progression of the 90s one. In both cases the first movie doesn’t really seem to be sure if it wants to be a light hearted kids movie or a more darker and edgy thing for teenagers. (Also both are directed and have production values like a movie for a grown up audience.) And both part 2s are way more sillier, cartoonier and all in all obviously made with only the kid audience in mind. (Also both feature wrestlers and Shredder has two not too bright mutated animal henchman.)

  4. I watched it recently too and surprisingly found a lot of it funny as fuck. Still the greatest thing about this one is that when I saw it at the cinema we also saw OUT FOR JUSTICE right behind it. So to me it’s legacy is as part of the coolest double bill that my 7 year old counterpart was exposed to in 1991.

  5. CJ – Here’s hoping that if the next one is time travel based it doesn’t end up as boring as Golden Harvest’s TMNT III.

  6. Fred Dekker should have went after the guaranteed hit of Turtles 2 instead of Robocop 3. The studio mandated drop from PG-13 action to PG would have been more acceptable to Turtle fans than the studio mandated drop from R to PG-13 was to Robocop fans. The opening of Night if the Creeps alien is a practice Krang and obviously Monster Squad should have put Dekker way ahead of the Doctor Detroit guy who got the job on what ever directors list the studio had.

  7. Re-watched these about 3 or so years back. One of my awful 80s/90s kid moment is still having a soft spot for the first movie. I’m pretty sure it is mostly nostalgia talking but I still dig it’s utter weirdness (at least at the time it was made). This one I loved as a kid because kids are stupid but the nostalgia levels aren’t high enough for me to be forgiving on this one. I wish they would have gone even weirder than the first (like this year’s Ninja Turtle sequel did) but they just went kid-friendlier instead. Them not having an actual fight/climx with Super Shredder pissed me off then and it pisses me off now, so my young self and myself now have an agreement on that one.

  8. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 Intro And Louie Mashup

    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Secret of the Ooze and Louie credits mashup

    Here you go Vern

  9. Thanks Michael! That was fast!

  10. That might be the first time Louis CK had made me laugh since POOTIE TANG.

  11. Actually, Michelangelo (orange) and Leonardo (blue) are voiced by the same actors as part 1. Raphael has a new voice who sounds similar, but the new Donatello voice is just glaring, and even though I loved the first one and was still a dumb kid, it put me off to this movie immediately. Otherwise . . . it had some good martial arts, but mainly with Keno. I tried to like this one but never did.

    This was also the first movie to eulogize Jim Henson, I’m pretty sure.

    Interested to know what you think of part 3, should you ever decide to review it, Vern. Feldman returns as the voice of Donny, and Elias Koteas returns as Casey! The costumes are terrible but the story and action are better (I think) than part 2.

  12. TMNT is one of those nostalgia artifacts that hilariously throws the nerdosphere into a tizzy now and again. Remember when the internet was up in arms over the fact that in the new movies the Turtles were supposed to be aliens? People acted like Michael Bay and company had just taken a piss on the Mona Lisa. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t allowed to watch TMNT when I was a kid, but I just can’t understand having that much of an attachment to some stupid anthropomorphic turtles.

    Also, I enjoy Louis CK’s stand up but for whatever reason kind of hated his TV show (at least the one season of it I watched).

  13. George Sanderson

    July 5th, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    I grew up in a small town in New Zealand that received only two terrestrial TV channels, neither of which screened the ninja turtle (this is the 80s/early 90s version I’m talking about).
    I only knew about them because my cousin got me a lunchbox and drink bottle set for my birthday with pictures of the turtles all over them.
    Those two bits of merchandise were bough to make me fall in love with the idea of these turtles even though I knew nothing more about them than that they were teenaged turtles who were mutated and trained as ninjas, or something.
    My Dad took me to the first movie when in a trip to the city and I really loved it. Haven’t seen it since – and I kind of don’t want to – but I remember being distraught when Raphael got beaten up on the rooftop by all those Foot soldiers.
    I also remember being an apologist for this film even though I was disappointed that Shredder’s two mutant pals weren’t Bebop and Rocksteady (why did the choose to mutate another turtle? Is the inclusion of a snapping turtle really that exciting?).
    At the time, for me, any TMNT action I could get was most welcome. I need to watch them again to see how discerning nine-year-old me really was, but little outside the Vanilla Ice finale really comes to mind.
    I hear that the rebooted comic series that started a few years ago is really strong.

  14. Wow Vern, from those last six paragraphs you just kept one upping yourself. Great work.

    I always thought the fact that martial artists could actually perform real Kung Fu in turtle suits was way cooler than anything tmnt related. So I love both Henson movies.

  15. The second one wasn’t really a Henson movie, though.

    @George Sanderson, I think the first TMNT holds up fairly well. Vern was not too impressed, but the fighting is the best of the series, the tone is the most serious, it is the closest adaptation of the (violent) graphic novel, the turtles look the best, and there is just some great puppetteering.

  16. Man this was a funny review. This was also the first movie I ever blind-bought because I liked the first one so much, so of course I ended up not liking this one. Keno is alright but no Casey Jones, and the kid-friendlier vibe just feels kinda lame, even though I was like 11 when this came out so i should have loved it. Plus the climax is terrible – Super Shredder gets introduced and it’s like “oh shit”, then he inexplicably destroys himself for who knows what reason. And I still don’t get the Ralph Nader joke, if someone could explain it to me that’d be nice.

    But most importantly, this was a formative movie for me since it inspired many a playground discussion on who was the hotter April O’Neil. (The answer today would be the pornstar named April O’Neil). And I like that the general consensus, even amongst kids, was that Paige Turco was more classically attractive than Judith Hoag, but Hoag was more likable and sexier. We were kids so I’m sure we phrased all of this more like assholes.

    Also, I’m not sure of the ethnicity of Turco, but if she’s Asian which I thought she was, would this be one of the first instances of color-blind re-casting in movies?

  17. It’s funny to think about it now, but I’m pretty sure that the original creative impulse for the TMNT was to take the piss out of the massively successful Claremont run of XMEN comics in the ’80s. So it would be awesome if the new run of TMNT movies were commenting on the present day XMEN flicks in some way, shape, or form — but I’m pretty sure that’s not happening. I wouldn’t know because I haven’t seen the new ones since the previews alone made me violently ill.

    Fred, that IS pretty incredible that people were doing kung fu in those suits. It’s hard enough to do a leg kick over your head with pants on, let alone completely encased in a foam rubber (?) suit. The people wearing costumes at Disney World need people to lead them around the park BY THE HAND because they can barely move – so obviously, they should be hiring martial artists to dress up like Mickie and Minny Mouse. THEN they could do double-duty as security when the shit goes down. All we need is a viral video of Donald Duck taking out 5 terrorists next to the Dumbo ride, and those parks will be the Safest Places On Earth.

  18. Mr. Shemp, I think you just stumbled on what should be the plot for Sudden Death 2.

  19. Christof, I thought the suits in ii were Henson too. In the third there noticeably cheaper and less articulate.

    Now I want to see kung fu Disney theme parks.

  20. Wouldn’t that be cool? Maybe they’ll do it at Disneyland Japan or China first to see how it goes. It would probably never happen here in the States because the insurance companies don’t ever let us have any fun.

  21. Fred, you are technically correct. Jim Henson Studios did the outfits . . . but Henson had died before production began. You can tell they used the same molds for the characters, but they didn’t look as good as part one and I have always attributed that to the loss of Henson.

    Man are the costumes bad in part 3…

  22. It’s all worth it for this:

    Shredder's Babies

    Taken from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The secret of the Ooze. I do not own this material. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 ©New Line Cinema, Golden Harves...

  23. I believe that Jim Henson wasn’t heavily involved in the first TURTLES movie (and reportedly had some reservations about its morality and violence), but Brian Henson was and IIRC was much less or not at all involved in the second.

    The third movie was the first movie I ever anticipated, and crappy or not I’m pleased to say 6 year old me did not find it a disappointment, nor did I really notice the lesser animatronics (although even then I realised Splinter’s closing, er, “gag” was a clunker). The whole time scepter/time travel, feudal Japan theme of the movie really captured my imagination at the time. And its a hard-hearted soul indeed who can’t find some room in his heart for a film which extended the lifespan of Baltimora’s TARZAN BOY.

  24. From what I’ve heard, despite Henson’s original hesitation to join the project (he thought it was too dark and violent), he was, like the true innovator that he was, fully invested in it, because he loved the challenge of creating the suits. (Believe it or not, but when the movie came out, the actors wore the most technologically advanced animatronic suits ever put on film!)

    About part 3: It has some huge flaws (just like the first two) but interesting enough, it’s the one of the three that works best as a “real” movie. Not a perfect movie, though. It is kinda mediocre, but it has a script that tells a complete story and they actually gave Elias Koteas the chance to show off some of his acting chops. I really don’t hate it as much as most other fans do.

  25. Part 3 has some of the funniest writing, too. And a decent score.

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