Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a 1990 American superhero action comedy film directed by Steve Barron, based on the comic book characters of the same name. Released to the cinemas in the USA on March 30, 1990, the film presents the origin story of Splinter and the Turtles, their meeting April O'Neil and Casey Jones, and their first confrontation with Shredder and his Foot Clan. It stars Judith Hoag, Elias Koteas, and the voices of Brian Tochi, Robbie Rist, Corey Feldman, and Josh Pais as the four title characters. The turtle costumes were developed by Jim Henson's Creature Shop, and was one of the last projects that Henson was involved in prior to his death.
When the New York City Police Department is unable to stop a severe crime wave caused by the Foot Clan, four mutated turtles — Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael — come forth to save the city. Under the leadership of mutated rat, Splinter, and together with their new-found allies April O'Neil and Casey Jones, they fight back and take the battle to The Shredder. The film kept very close to the dark feel of the original comics, and is a direct adaptation of the comic book storyline involving the defeat of Shredder, with several elements also taken from the 1987 TV series that was airing at the time, such as April being a news reporter, and the turtles having different-colored masks, as opposed to the uniform red masks of the comic.
The film became the highest-grossing independent film of all time, the ninth-highest-grossing film worldwide of 1990, and the most successful film in the series until the 2014 reboot. It was followed by two sequels, The Secret of the Ooze in 1991 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III in 1993.
As a crime wave rises in New York City, reporter April O'Neil covers the mysterious ninja Foot Clan. The Shredder, the Foot leader, orders April silenced. She is attacked by the Foot in a subway and knocked unconscious. Raphael, one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, emerges from the shadows, defeats the Foot, and carries her to the turtles' hideout, unaware that one of the Foot is following him. Splinter, their rat master, explains to April that he and the turtles were once ordinary animals, but were mutated into intelligent creatures by toxic waste. After the turtles escort April home, they find their hideout ransacked and Splinter kidnapped. They return to April's apartment and spend the night there.
Danny Pennington, the delinquent son of April's supervisor Charles Pennington, is recruited by the Foot. After bailing Danny out of jail for robbery, Charles stops at April's apartment, where Danny glimpses one of the turtles hiding. He reports this to Shredder.
At April's apartment, Raphael and Leonardo argue. Raphael goes to the roof, where the Foot ambush him. He is knocked unconscious and the turtles scramble to defend themselves, assisted by the vigilante Casey Jones. The building catches fire during the melee, and the turtles retreat to a farm belonging to April's family. Raphael recovers and the turtles train while April and Casey fall in love. Leo contacts Splinter through meditation, and the turtles return to New York to rescue him.
Danny has secretly been taking counsel from Splinter, who tells him the story of his master Hamato Yoshi's murder by a rival ninja, Oroku Saki, over the love of a woman, while Splinter was an ordinary rat. During the struggle, Splinter's cage was broken and he lunged at Saki's face, clawing and biting him. Saki, enraged, sliced off part of his ear with a katana. When Danny learns Shredder intends to have Splinter killed, he and Casey set him free.
The turtles engage the Foot in battle, but the Shredder defeats them. As the Shredder prepares to kill Leonardo, Splinter appears and challenges him to a fight. Splinter names Shredder as Oroku Saki; Saki removes his mask and touches his scar, remembering how Splinter gave it to him. He charges Splinter, who ensnares the Shredder's yari with Michelangelo's nunchaku, leaving him dangling over the roof's edge. Shredder throws a knife from his belt, but when Splinter reaches to catch it, his grip is released and Saki falls into a garbage truck. Casey pulls the lever to activate the compactor, crushing the Shredder. As the police arrive, the teens tell them where the stolen goods are. Reunited with Splinter, the turtles watch as April and Casey kiss.