Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (fight 2 of 3)

“I do hope there’s more of them.”

There’s always more, buddy.

[Note: It was very difficult for me to find any pictures of this battle online. Therefore I’m going just going to share unrelated images from the movie which I find amusing.]

Here’s Raphael being comatose in a bathtub.

2) TMNT vs Foot Clan (rematch)

The Fighters:

  • Leonardo. Leads. Played by David Forman and Brian Tochi.
  • Raphael. Cool but rude. Played by Josh Pais.
  • Michelangelo. A party dude. Played by Michelan Sisti and Robbie Rist.
  • Donatello. Does machines. Played by Leif Tilden and Corey Feldman.
  • The Foot Clan. Hapless conscripts in Shredder’s ninja-thief-army-family. Played by various stunt men in black clothes.

They’re all armed the same as before. As a side dish, Casey Jones (Elias Koteas) has a brief tangle with Master Tatsu (Toshishiro Obata) while rescuing Splinter.

The Setup: Fully recovered and filled with renewed purpose, the four turtles have come back from their rural retreat and reclaimed their home in preparation to hunt down the Foot. The Foot, of course, has been looking for them, and an impromptu visit from a conflicted Danny inadvertently tips off the Shredder that the Turtles are back in town. The Foot arrive in full force but their amphibian adversaries seems to have anticipated their arrival (when they woke up and saw that Danny was missing, I suppose? Even sewer-dwelling mutants know not to trust a ginger), and are ready to give their opponents a surprise.

Meanwhile, with nearly all of the official Foot soldiers cleared out of their warehouse headquarters, Danny and Casey Jones (who followed Danny out there) are left to free Splinter before his ordered execution.

The Fight: There’s a great build-up here with several shots of the Foot Clan streaming en masse into the sewers from multiple entrances. About a dozen of them converge on the turtles’ lair but find it seemingly empty, until the surrounding pipes mysteriously burst open and flood the area in steam. When it clears, the Foot are all knocked out and the four heroes are standing about, cockily– Raph in particular seems fittingly pleased to be turning the tables on his erstwhile tormentors. It’s a good reminder that the heroes are not just martial artists but ninjas, cleverly utilizing their environment and striking foes from the proverbial shadows.

The second wave arrives just as the scene cuts away to Casey and Danny freeing Splinter, and the musical score does a neat trick here where it dies down just as the scene changes, making you think that we’re cutting away from excitement… only to build back up again as Casey’s scene becomes more important, especially when he turns to find Tatsu waiting behind him with a whole crowd of punks (including a young Sam Rockwell!) as backup.

Here’s Donatello spitting water.

When we rejoin the sewer battle (not right where we left off; it’s clear some time has passed), it’s all over the place– in a good way. The turtles are having merry fun with their prey, and unlike what happened in April’s apartment, their confidence is warranted: here, they’re in control, the four fighting as one once again and on their home turf. They even take time to indulge and play some more, with antics including Michelangelo lining up one chump juuuuuust right so that April can give him a gratuitous conk on the head.

The action cuts again to Casey getting positively walloped by Tatsu– Jones is a good brawler, but he’s little match for a seasoned veteran like Tatsu. He gets beaten so badly (Koteas sells the pain as well as the comedy, acting alternately defiant and confused), but turns things around with two quick moves after he stumbles across a golf club. Bludgeon-ready sports equipment is to Casey Jones what spinach is to Popeye.

When the action revisits the turtles the fight has expanded to the tunnels outside the sewers, with the enemy scrambled and on the defensive. They have such control of the battle they’re even doing stupid stuff like having Don bash foes left & right while zooming along on a skateboard (I can only imagine how hard that was to film with that costume). There’s a brief switch back to the aftermath of the warehouse fight for a dramatic beat, and when we return the Foot are in full-fledged retreat, pouring out of the same entrances in panic that they had marched through confidently not so long ago. The music even switches up to the group’s main theme (it played early in the movie as they returned home), the tune’s casual nature underscoring just how effortless and fun this is for our heroes. The streets are oddly empty even for this time of night– isn’t New York supposed to be the city that never sleeps? I don’t think even Wilmington, North Carolina (where this was actually filmed; I’ve been there and it rules) is this empty in the early morning, but then I suppose it’s plausible anyone who was around when they saw a ninja army fighting four karate monsters quite wisely decided to leave the area. And, in a nice touch I hadn’t remembered/noticed earlier, the garbage truck that will play a role later in the climax can be seen pulling up in the background of one part of the scene.

Here's Judith Hoag making a funny face.

Here’s Judith Hoag making a funny face.

All that cutting back & forth between this fight and the Casey/Splinter/Tatsu stuff served a secondary purpose of masking geographical transitions. Every time we return to the turtles’ fight, they’re on different terrain: they steadily push back their enemy from their lair to the sewer tunnels to the surface streets and now finally to the roof of a nearby building. A very smart cinematic play that conveys once again how much the Turtles are in control, while also giving the sense of the battle going on for an unknown amount of time longer than what we see on screen. I wondered this time watching it if the Foot’s retreat was actually deliberate and part of a plan to lure the turtles to where Shredder was waiting, but based on how much of a whooping they all take there’s no reason to suspect the pushback isn’t exactly what it looks like. Shredder could have confronted them earlier if he’d wanted.

The gradual climb up the rooftop is fun too, showcasing the action now happening on separate planes as the turtles drive the Foot upwards via the fire escapes. Reuniting on the roof they finish off the last of the stragglers and seem actively disappointed that there’s not more misguided teens to beat up. Little do they know they’re in for the boss fight.

Although the stakes are low in this one it’s hard not to have a good time watching it. The heroes’ enthusiasm is infectious as they kick ass across multiple stories, the choreography is pretty sharp & creative, and the aforementioned cross-cutting works well.

Grade: B+

Coming Attractions: Shredding.

Here’s the world’s lamest Shredder costume.

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One comment on “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (fight 2 of 3)

  1. […] Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (fight 2 of 3) (gradingfightscenes.com) […]

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