Five Days of FIVE ELEMENT NINJAS: Day 4

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BACK IN BLACK!

Gold, brown, blue, red and beige schemes aside, FEN also has a damn nifty commando raid where a platoon of black-clad ninja adeptly bypass the kung-fu compound’s ample defenses and lay waste to the remaining students. It is probably the best tactical ninja action in any Hong Kong / Chinese movie.

It all starts with a seemingly innocent damsel in distress, who is actually...
...a spy laden with a covert arsenal, like this bow and arrows used to shoot messages out of the compound. The school has been 'ninja-proofed' and its her job to clue-in her brethren to the new defenses.
Her oral skills come in handy on more than one occasion.
This snake in the grass sheds her angelic disguise in favor of more traditional kunoichi-cutie coture. Although a conflicted soul, Senshi's purpose in the film is to embody an even more despicable level of Japanese underhandedness and amorality. And if you know your Shaw Bros., you know the survivability rate of evil women.
A good example of a genuine tool (a thief's door drill, used to bore into and unhook locking bars) from historical reference, but the prop guys had no sense of scale for the thing.
This manriki is also too big and way too long to be practical.
With booby traps neutralized and perimeter guards eliminated, the bloodbath begins.

The shinobi surprise attack is all about underhanded gang tactics on outnumbered foes, punctuated with a sadistically inventive method of killing off the kung-fu grandmaster.
However those who live by the hidden sword...
...are doomed to die by it.

The garishly colored elemental ninja may be the gimmick of FEN, but the overall commentary on the Japanese and what is heavy-handedly portrayed as their insidious martial art is actually better embodied in these black-clad shinobi segments. It really is as simple as black and white in the end, save for the copious red gore of course, as more and more kung-fu heroes throw their lives away defending the honorable notions of the Chinese martial world.

Tomorrow wraps up Five Days of FEN with a look at the Tokyo Shock DVD release vs. previously available versions, and some final thoughts on why this movie worked, but ultimately didn’t work, for the studio.

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