More pretty B&W shinobi action today, courtesy of Toshikazu Kouno‘s 1964 Toei actioner Daisan no Ninja(The Third Ninja).
Brief synopsis (anything longer would be spoiler-heavy): Two competing ninja, one an obedient servant, the other an upstart looking for a job, are given the task of hunting down Takeda Shingen’s deadliest assassin Chidoken. The winner becomes #1 Resident Suppa, the loser gets the axe. Along the way, the tenuous duo encounter a third ninja with a grudge against their target, and the game is on. Commando-style invasions of booby-trapped houses and ninja-on-ninja weapons fights ensue, with a couple of surprise reveals making for a truly dramatic (and blood soaked) end.
I really dig The Third Ninja. It doesn’t miss a trick of the genre: cat burglar skills, shuriken fights, close-quarter short-sword duels, disguises, traps, it’s ALL here. Grim, gritty, gory – it’s a tough tale and there are some truly wretched characters on both sides of the morally ambiguous goings-on.
Again, GREAT photography at times here. This is certainly on the short list of movies that prove B&W to be the superior artistic vehicle for shinobi cinema. The Hajime Kaburagi score is great too, lots of haunting harmonica work to support the noir-ish visuals and somber themes.