Beverly Hills Ninja

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Beverly Hills Ninja
Beverly Hills Ninja poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDennis Dugan
Produced by
  • Bradley Jenkel
  • Brad Krevoy
  • Steven Stabler
  • Mitch Klebanoff
Written by
  • Mark Feldberg
  • Mitch Klebanoff
Music byGeorge S. Clinton
CinematographyArthur Albert
Edited byJeff Gourson
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing
Release date
  • January 17, 1997 (1997-01-17)
Running time
88 minutes
CountryUnited States
  • English
  • Japanese
Budget$18 million
Box office$31.5 million[1]

Beverly Hills Ninja is a 1997 American martial arts comedy film directed by Dennis Dugan, written by Mark Feldberg and Mitch Klebanoff. The film stars Chris Farley, Nicollette Sheridan, Nathaniel Parker, with Chris Rock, and Robin Shou. The main plot revolves around Haru (portrayed by Farley), a white orphan boy who is found by a clan of ninjas as an infant in an abandoned treasure chest and is raised by them.

Haru never quite conforms to their culture and never acquires the skills of a ninja, but is nonetheless good natured, and persevering in his personal ambitions. His first mission brings him to Beverly Hills to investigate a murder mystery. It was the last film starring Farley to be released in his lifetime, as he died eleven months after its release.[2]


A clan of ninjas finds an abandoned chest that has been washed onto shore with a white baby inside. One of their ancient legends spoke of a foreign white male who would come among them and become a master like no other would. The boy, Haru, is raised amongst the ninja, with the expectation that he may become the legendary master. As Haru grows into adulthood, doubts are quickly cast over this, as he is clumsy and lacking in ninja skills, and so fails to graduate as a ninja with the rest of his class.

Left alone to protect the temple while the clan are on a mission, Haru disguises himself as a ninja when an American, Sally Jones, comes to the temple seeking assistance. Sally says she is suspicious of her boyfriend, Martin Tanley, and asks Haru to investigate. Haru discovers that Tanley and his bodyguard, Nobu, are involved in a money counterfeiting business, but is unable to inform Sally before she leaves.

Haru leaves Tokyo and goes to Beverly Hills in search of Sally. Gobei, Haru's adoptive brother, is sent by the clan's sensei to secretly watch over and protect Haru.

Haru checks in at a Beverly Hills hotel, where he befriends bellboy Joey Washington, and teaches him some ninja lessons. Unaware that Gobei is helping him, Haru manages to find Sally. Haru tracks Tanley and Nobu to a night club in Little Tokyo, where they are attempting to retrieve a set of counterfeiting plates from their rival gang.

The gangs fight, resulting in the deaths of two of the rival gang members, for which Haru finds himself the suspect. After receiving guidance from his sensei, Haru resumes his search for Sally, and locates Tanley's mansion. Haru finds Sally and discovers her real name is Alison Page. Alison informs him that Tanley murdered her sister, and that she is dating Tanley while using a fake name in order to get evidence.

Haru disguises himself as a chef at a Japanese restaurant, and discovers Tanley will be hiring an ink specialist named Chet Walters to help counterfeit money. Haru then disguises himself as Walters and infiltrates Tanley's warehouse. Haru's identity is exposed after failing to properly counterfeit the money and Tanley captures him. While Tanley succeeds in obtaining the other half of the plates from the rival gang, Alison rescues Haru, only to be kidnapped by Tanley herself. The next day Haru enlists Joey's help in finding the warehouse. Gobei intervenes without Haru's knowledge and leads them back to the warehouse.

Tanley locks Alison in a room with a bomb. Haru attempts to intervene but is overwhelmed by guards. Gobei reveals himself to Haru, and manages to distract the guards, allowing Haru to rescue Alison. Haru attempts to defuse the bomb but fails. On hearing Gobei become inundated by the guards, Haru goes to assist him.

Haru snaps and suddenly demonstrates amazing martial arts moves, stunning Gobei. Haru saves Gobei's life and successfully defeats several guards himself. Haru and Gobei are left facing off Nobu and two guards. Joey, attempting to enter the building, crashes through a window and knocks himself and one of the guards unconscious. Haru and Gobei defeat Nobu and the remaining guard. Tanley then confronts Haru and Gobei.

In the fight that follows, Haru accidentally knocks Gobei unconscious by hitting him in the head with a sheave, but forces Tanley to flee afterwards. Haru returns to attempt to rescue Alison. Using a large harpoon gun mounted on a cart, Haru shoots a harpoon through the room which inadvertently lands in the back of a truck in which Tanley is trying to escape. The harpoon drags the bomb into Tanley's truck and explodes. Haru successfully rescues Alison, then Tanley and his surviving hitmen are arrested by the LAPD.

Sometime later back in Japan, Haru informs his sensei he will be returning to Beverly Hills to live with his girlfriend Alison. Haru and Alison leave together on a bus. A grappling hook tied to a rope has fallen from the bus and hooks into Gobei's wheelchair, causing him to be thrown into the ocean. Haru shouts an apology to Gobei.



Beverly Hills Ninja received generally negative reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 14% based on reviews from 28 critics. The site's consensus states: "Far from silent but comedically deadly, Beverly Hills Ninja proves painfully unfunny."[3] On Metacritic it has a score of 27 out of 100 based on reviews from 11 critics.[4] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade B+ on scale of A to F.[5]

James Berardinelli panned the film, stating that "Beverly Hills Ninja is essentially a one-joke film. That joke has to do with Chris Farley [...], who plays one of the clumsiest men on Earth, crashing into objects or having things fall on his head" and concluded that it "isn't just juvenile, it's lackluster and unfunny."[6]

Bruce Fretts of Entertainment Weekly also criticized the film, complaining it had "...a yawner plot about Farley busting up a yen counterfeiting ring" and that "...when the writers run out of ideas, they simply have Farley walk into a lamppost, or cop from old SNL skits."[7]

A favorable review came from Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle who wrote that it is "not the kind of picture that gets respect from New York critics, but it's funny. [...] This is a movie in which the audience knows half the gags in advance, but thanks to director Dennis Dugan's timing and Farley's execution, the audience doesn't just laugh anyway, but laughs harder... he's too good, too funny and too in control of his out-of-controlness to be a mere buffoon."[8] Leonard Klady of Variety magazine wrote: "This sweet saga of an underachiever who makes good is surprisingly appealing and sure to broaden the portly comic's fan base."[9]


Beverly Hills Ninja
Soundtrack album to Beverly Hills Ninja
ReleasedJanuary 14, 1997
LabelEMI Records
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic2/5 stars[10]
Track listing
  1. "You're a Ninja?..." – Chris Farley, Chris Rock
  2. "Kung Fu Fighting" – Patti Rothberg
  3. "One Way or Another" – Blondie
  4. "...We Are in Danger..." – Chris Farley, Nathaniel Parker
  5. "Tsugihagi Boogie Woogie" – Ulfuls
  6. "Low Rider" – War
  7. "The blackness of my belt..." – Chris Farley, Chris Rock
  8. "Tarzan Boy" – Baltimora
  9. " identity must remain mysterious..." – Chris Farley, Curtis Blanck
  10. "Turning Japanese" – The Hazies
  11. "You're the big, fat Ninja, aren't you?" – Chris Farley, Nathaniel Parker
  12. "Kung Fu Fighting" – Carl Douglas
  13. "I'm Too Sexy" – Right Said Fred
  14. "...close to the temple, not inside" – Chris Farley, Nicollette Sheridan
  15. "I Think We're Alone Now" (Japanese version) – Lene Lovich
  16. "Finally Got It" – Little John
  17. "...Yes, I guess I did" – Chris Farley, Soon-Tek Oh
  18. "The End" – George Clinton & Buckethead


Beverly Hills Ninja 2, a sequel written by Mitch Klebanoff and co directed by Klebanoff and Kelly Sandefur. The film would feature David Hasselhoff and Lucas Grabeel, and began shooting scenes in South Korea in October 2008.[11] During filming, the name was changed to Dancing Ninja, and was released in 2010.[12]


  1. ^ "Beverly Hills Ninja". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
  2. ^ ""Beverly Hills Ninja" Tops Beverly Hills Cop". Chicago Tribune. January 20, 1997.
  3. ^ "Beverly Hills Ninja". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2020-05-04.
  4. ^ "Beverly Hills Ninja". Metacritic. Retrieved 2020-05-04.
  5. ^ "BEVERLY HILLS NINJA (1997) B+". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on 2018-12-20.
  6. ^ "Beverly Hills Ninja - A Film Review by James Berardinelli". Retrieved 2012-03-30.
  7. ^ "Beverly Hills Ninja - Reviewed by Bruce Fretts". January 31, 1997. Retrieved 2020-05-04.
  8. ^ Lasalle, Mick (January 18, 1997). "Beverly Hills Ninja - FILM REVIEW". Retrieved 2020-05-04.
  9. ^ Klady, Leonard (26 January 1997). "Beverly Hills Ninja". Variety.
  10. ^ Beverly Hills Ninja at AllMusic
  11. ^ Han Sunhee (September 16, 2008). "'Ninja 2' to shoot in South Korea". Variety. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
  12. ^ "The Dancing Ninja (Beverly Hills Ninja 2)". Archived from the original on March 30, 2012. Retrieved August 19, 2011.

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