Around the interwebs…

posted in: 7 - Ninja Miscelany | 9

There’s been some nifty stuff on other sites I’ve been remiss in plugging.

New stuff at Kurotokagigumi this month, including the climax of Kage no Gundan Bakumatsu Hen (Shadow Warriors 5).

Way out there vintage Polish poster forย Yojimbo, spotted byย Wildgrounds. While there, the Japanese doco on katana choreography is pretty damn cool, too.

There’s no better place for a martial arts film fan to waste some surfing time than Scott Adkins Fanz YouTube channel, which includes his 2010 fight reel. God almighty this guy is the savior of the MA action star!

Adkins is, of course, the star of our highly recommended fave of the recent shinobi-cinema spat Ninja, and the absolutely excellent Undisputed III. He’s filming a movie called “Weapon” in Romania right now with Jean Claude Van Damme. PASS THAT TORCH, JCVD! This is your Black Eagle

Schoolgirl Milky Crisis has a great article on the recent Kamui live action film and some questions on the very existence of ninja in the first place. Highly recommended write up! Not so much a recommended movie. Guess I should write a review of this at some point, but then I’d have to watch it again. Huh… guess that last statement was my review.

Check out Amber Skowronski‘s great illo of the cast of Legendary Weapons of China. Not a lot of people realize the ninja connection in this Shaw classic…

Teleport City‘s review of High Kick Girl is right on. I recommend seeing this movie — there are some absolutely awesome female fighters throughout — but man can it be a frustrating watch…

Speaking of not-so-ninja martial arts films (and I’m often frustrated I don’t have a less niche forum in which to do so) I want to give an absolutely GUSHING, loving plug to an absolutely terrific Korean martial arts tournament flick most of the world has overlooked. Geochilmaru (aka The Showdown) is a near zero-budget movie with a large cast of legit martial artists. They go to a remote location and get in a LOT of fights. No digital, no wires, no bullshit. Great actors? No. Groundbreaking new ideas? No. Totally satisfying indie kick flick that leans on its strengths? HELL YES! This is a movie that is really about martial arts, and I just adore it!

9 Responses

  1. RG

    I thought Ninja was a horribly bad film. The plot with Illuminati (or whatever) was just completely idiotic for a serious film, and the awkard final fight in the night-time city streets looked like the TV-show-themed derelict funhouse scene from Max Payne 2 (the game) in the sense it was clear it’s just a prop and not a real street.

  2. RG

    And Kamui live-action is actually good, if not simply great. Very faithful to the source material (not 100% though). I enjoyed this film very much, and my exceptions were high.

  3. RG

    Seriously, I’d like to hear how would you explain how anything is better in Ninja than in Kamui. Or how anything was any good in Ninja.

    Or just better than even (EVEN) in Ninja Assassin (which is very stupid, but not THAT much, and actually watchable). I didn’t even finish watching Ninja (what an imaginative title), the super-fake final fight of Good Ninja vs Bad Ninja vs Lame Illuminati just bored me too much.

    You know, I wanted this film to be good. I’d also never even hear about it if not this blog. I guess this film was just an another attempt of a cheap rip-off of an excepted blockbuster.

    Kamui is beautiful (in a grim way) and the story excitied me even as I knew the plot from the manga (it was changed a bit, but mostly followed it closely). I liked everything about this film, with the single exception of the distractingly unrealistic wire-fu-style “flying” in the trees. The film was pretty damn close to perfection. For me, along with the fantasy CG-fest of Goemon it was the best ninja film of 2009 for sure and one of the best of the decade, at the very least.

  4. RG

    And by “excited me” I meant I was emotionally engaged and I cared for the characters (even knowing who and how will die and who will survive). Oh, and I watched it with no subtitles (not knowing the Japanese).

    Which was not in the case of Ninja obviously. And I just can’t stress enough how idiotic its excuse for a plot was. It was on par with the Ameircan Ninja series, only about 20-30 years later. The Evil Quasimasonry Cult stuff was just painful, the girl was useless, I don’t really remember anything else. Production values reminded me of Last Rites (aka Gangs of the Dead), a 2006 straight-to-video zombie film (also stupid, fake-looking and boring). It was only marginally better than Mask of the Ninja. Not better than Ninja Assassin.

    I just check and some threads at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1182921/board are pretty amusing (“Movie of the year…and that year is 1986.” or “Scott VS Rain” – with the answer: “Kicking ass or boy-band-singing-and-dancing?”).

    So in short I’m really looking forward to your review of Kamui Gaiden, as well as a review of Ninja ๐Ÿ˜›

  5. krainville

    I think RG’s word count is higher than mine this this month…

    When assessing movies, I look at what they were trying to do vs. what came of those efforts and evaluate success based on how close they came to the target.

    NINJA was trying to be a mid 80’s Cannon homage and positively nailed it. If you hate 80’s fare, you’ll hate the film. If you’re over 30, it takes you back big time.

    I’m holding back full thoughts on KAMUI until I see it with a better translation, and until a domestic DVD is pending (plugging something largely unavailable frustrates the audience). Initial viewing of an HK boot left me un-moved. Mostly it shares the same weakness every Japanese ninja movie has since OWL’s CASTLE – too much reliance on digital effects, which even Japanese filmmakers admit are often not up to snuff.

    As for ‘reviews’ – I tend to avoid wasting space on stuff I’m not going to recommend, but I will do features on why I love some aspect of a movie or how I lament another that didn’t work, and there may be both in KAMUI eventually.

    As for a pending review of NINJA, I did a huge feature on it last year:
    https://vintageninja.net/?p=1909

    I’ve also said plenty about the inept digi-fu shitpile that was NINJA ASSASSIN, and GOEMON was about as watchable as CASSHERN. Can’t get behind you there…

  6. RG

    I guess we used the same subtitles then. When I’ve seen them I just blinked several times and then turned them off. I remembered the manga pretty well so there was not much problem. There are some new scenes, some scenes are removed, and some scenes are changed (especially the ending is bit different, I guess the original was too brutal or something), but there was no much problem for me.

    Btw, the first time I watched Shinobi no Mono the sub was apparently translated from Chinese to English by a Chinese guy who obviously didn’t speak English) Everyone had Chinese names, except a guy named “Sam” (unless it’s also Chinese).

    So I watched American Ninja (and also Octagon etc) in like um, 1991 or so, I wasn’t impressed back then, I didn’t like it now. And I was ~10 years old kid. It just wasn’t really impressive. For me the formulative time was playing The Last Ninja 1 & 2 on the C64 (with a 1541 floppy disk drive!) smuggled in by my dad from West Germany beyond the iron courtain in 1988, or the games in the local arcade (Shadow Warriors! …that is, Ninja Gaiden), then the GI Joe and other comics (like The Punisher’s Shadowmasters offshot) and TMNT (I was very disappointed by it but I kept watching, well I actually watched most cartoons back then, and we had only 3 channels of TV unless someone had a SAT so it wasn’t that hard) in the very early 1990s, then some more games but now for Amiga (Mortal Kombat!)… Then in the mid and late 1990s there was Ninja Scroll, Tenchu, and so on. (I sure missed out the early console games because PlayStation was the first popular console here. Also anime became known at all only in 1995.)

    Wow, my life story. Tl:dr: my 1980s childhood ninja was The Last Ninja. If you don’t like this theme you don’t know what’s good ๐Ÿ˜‰
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XZPflpw-ys

  7. krainville

    A valid argument that’s actually part of a large article I poke around with once in a while, and will certainly see the light of day somewhere here in the future.

    Ninja in pop culture are distinct by decade for one reason or another, and often the fans who cut their teeth one decade aren’t especially compatible with the previous or the next.

    I can image all sorts of ninja-as-colorful-wizard-kid fans didn’t like the Bond-compatible 60’s B&W fare, and 60’s fans might not have been too thrilled with 80’s flicks. I was a kid in the 70’s on Bruce Lee and a teen in the 80’s on Kosugi, but I have little or no interest in the Mortal Kombat-inspired 90’s ninja thing, and have a real hard time identifying with 2000’s Naruto fare. Those folk will undoubtedly resent wherever the idiom goes in the 2020’s…

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