Though a different kind of Ninja Turtle movie, it continues the fun of the previous films...
I will admit one thing. To this day, I am not sure why the writers for the third Ninja Turtle movie thought of a story taking place in ancient Japan. These heroes live and fight in New York City. On the other hand, ninjitsu is a Japanese martial art, so the setting of Japan may not be a bad idea for a Turtle movie. I still like the movie as much as the other Turtle movies, even if the story in this movie only aims to do something different without necessarily coming up with something original and fitting to the series.
Basically, the Turtles are just hanging out in their sewer home when their friend, April O'Neill (Paige Turco), brings an ancient Japanese scepter from an antique shop. Unexpectedly, they discover a magical power within. As April holds the scepter, she disappears into it, replaced by a Japanese man wearing her clothes. The Turtles go after her by holding the scepter themselves, magically disappearing and being replaced by four Japanese men.
As they discover, it's a time-traveling device. The Turtles find themselves on horseback in the middle of battle (Michelangelo, by the way, is riding backwards). Meanwhile, April is a prisoner at a castle, and Casey Jones (Elias Koteas), another friend of the Turtles, plays babysitter back in New York with the visitors from Japan. When you look at it, the story is mostly about an unexpected situation for the characters to find their way out of. It's still an adventure for the Turtles. Just not the kind the fans would expect.
At the same time, the characteristic humor and action are there. The Turtles do fight many warriors in various settings. Ultimately, they deal with the warlord Norinaga and the pirate Walker. Neither villain is like the Shredder, the true nemesis of the Turtles, but their presence still makes the movie better than one without any villains at all. However, one thing is definitely missing: pizza. Being in Japan, the Turtles have no access to their favorite food.
I am in the minority when I say that this movie still works. Many would disagree and I can see why. It's more of an historical adventure that features the Ninja Turtles, not a sci-fi action film that features the Ninja Turtles. I guess the reason I liked the movie is because I look at the Turtles as adventurers. It doesn't matter where they are or what they do. As long as they do their stuff with ninjitsu to save the day, that's good enough.
For more information about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my reviews for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, and TMNT.