3 Ninjas Kick Back Is The Third Entry - But Was Released Second

3 ninjas kick back poster

3 Ninjas Kick Back was the second movie in the franchise to hit cinemas - despite technically being the third entry. The original 3 Ninjas was released in 1992, and followed the titular characters, who are three brothers trained in martial arts by their grandfather Mori (Victor Wong, Big Trouble In Little China). Their father is also an FBI agent chasing a dangerous criminal called Snyder - who also happens to have some ninja henchmen. Snyder eventually tries to kidnap the boys, which puts their fighting skills to the test.

3 Ninjas was inspired by the success of 1990's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Home Alone, with the film even featuring a scene where the three leads fend off home invaders with cartoonish traps. The movie proved to be a surprise hit with younger viewers and grossed nearly $30 million in the U.S. alone. The film was also helmed by Jon Turteltaub, who would eventually direct both National Treasure movies and The Meg with Jason Statham.

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The original 3 Ninjas was made on a low-budget, meaning a sequel was almost a given. A follow-up arrived in the form of 3 Ninjas Kick Back in 1994, where Colt, Tum-Tum, and Rocky travel to Japan with their grandfather. Despite an increase in budget and scale, the movie was a box-office dud and received mostly bad reviews. Fans of the original movie may have noticed that only Max Elliott Slade (Parenthood) returned as Colt, while Tum-Tum and Rocky were recast. This is especially strange since the next entry - 3 Ninjas Knuckle Up - featured all three of the original actors returning. That's because 3 Ninjas Knuckle Up was actually shot in 1992, shortly after the release of the first movie.

3 ninja kick back sequel

Distribution issues with 3 Ninjas Knuckle Up meant it was shelved and ultimately released in 1995, a full three years after it was shot. So, despite being the second movie released, 3 Ninjas Kick Back is really the third entry in the series overall. It was also the only entry to receive a video game adaptation, which was released for the Sega Mega Drive, SNES, and even the Sega 3D. 3 Ninjas Knuckle Up didn't fare much better at the box-office upon release either and quickly slipped out of cinemas.

The series came to an end with 1998's 3 Ninjas: High Noon At Mega Mountain, which brought some star power in the form of Hulk Hogan (The A-Team), but the fourth entry was the lowest-grossing of the series. The release of 3 Ninjas Kick Back before the actual second movie is an odd blip in the franchise's history - especially for those viewing the series back to back - but considering none of the sequels were very good, that's probably the only noteworthy thing about them.

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