• Ninja, a Band of Assassins

    Ninja, a Band of Assassins

    ★★★½

    For the first half or so of this, I was quite confused what was going on. Rather, I knew what the plot was and what the motivations of various characters were; but I was struggling to tell which faction we were watching at any given time.

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    There’s also some messy structuring on who we are supposed to be rooting for, even on the base level of if the Lord Nobunaga at the centre…

  • American Ninja

    American Ninja

    ★★★

    The only change in my thoughts upon rewatch is Dudikoff and Firstenberg’s direction actually sell the simple choreography very well. And that Steve James should’ve been a massive star, and also should’ve been a bigger part of this film. The same with the evil Black Star ninja: Yamashita. They had the parts but didn’t put the right focus on the greatest ones. Still amounts to a whole lot of fun though.

    And the scores to Cannon films always elevate the…

  • Babylon

    Babylon

    ★★½

    I feel I need to decipher my thoughts on this and figure what it is I just watched, but I also didn’t get engaged enough to do that much of a deep dive.

    I liked the performances, especially Robbie and Calva, and I enjoyed the general vibe and the comedic scenes. However, I found myself at around the halfway point questioning where the narrative thrust was.

    It fell into a haze of just witnessing things happen to these people, none…

  • Torawakamaru, the Koga Ninja

    Torawakamaru, the Koga Ninja

    ★★★

    At times ambitious and bold, others it’s quaint and small. The whole production feels like it takes place on a stage, with the only true signifier of it’s film craft is in the editing tricks to show off the ninja’s magic teleporting and transforming powers.

    It’s undeniably goofy when we have a duel between ninjas that is more like wizards doing a sideshow, complete with a man becoming an inanimate snake model or briefly a dragon head, but this is…

  • Sick

    Sick

    ★★★½

    A tight and tense home invasion thriller that rides the line right up to the edge on how engaging a COVID-based screenplay can be. For 80% of it’s runtime, the pandemic just feel like extra flavour and influence the plot in believable and at times darkly funny ways.

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    It’s only as we enter the third act that some people may outright reject the premise, but I don’t feel that’s on the film. I had a minute where I…

  • The Third Ninja

    The Third Ninja

    ★★★★

    A haunting yet beautiful wailing score in the vein of a Western, gorgeous B&W photography, confident and impactful blocking and composition, as well as a healthy dose of ninja missions and clashes make this a grand delight from start to finish.

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    What’s more, is I know this film successfully drew me in; as I wanted more time spent on these various ninjas who felt fully realised and complex in their relationships and goals.…

  • Warring Clans

    Warring Clans

    ★★★

    Perhaps too many clans were warring over these 300 muskets, as I don’t think I was entirely clear in the motivations or ideals of any group at any point. I got the gist and enjoyed the light comedy, the characters, small clashes and turns of the story; but I definitely did not fully embrace the film’s personality and plot.

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    Yuriko Hoshi’s Sughuri was my favourite addition, and I eagerly awaited the next time…

  • Heroes of the East

    Heroes of the East

    ★★★★½

    This is not just a delight, it is magnificent.
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    In almost every aspect it is exemplary, and proves to be ahead of its time in its progressive view on Nationalism, treatment of women, and the age-old lesson of learning to love and respect each other.

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    All that and a plethora of intricate and wonderfully dynamic choreography and camerawork, which not only amaze as feats of martial skill but are threaded…

  • Rage of Honor

    Rage of Honor

    ★★½

    There’s a quick moment in this where Kosugi lobs different items he finds in the scraps of a warehouse like shuriken, including a buzzsaw. That’s a highlight in a passable action film that mostly just chugs along at a commendable pace.

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    The plot almost feels made up as it goes, with the villain somehow knowing of the heroes yet also not having any meaty drama between the characters. Kosugi is on an angry…

  • Ninja: The Final Duel

    Ninja: The Final Duel

    ★★

    This sort of madness should be catnip to me, but I was mostly disinterested. The fights are mostly just fine, and even when they show off some energetic clashes, the editing either speeds it up or the camerawork is lacking to really make any of it pop.

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    The one true standout is Alice Tseng’s nude fight, and not just because of those stark reasons. It actually just has the best use of framing…

  • Revenge of the Ninja

    Revenge of the Ninja

    ★★★★

    This is my third viewing of this and I still don’t know the full story of what was going with these drug deals. I also don’t know why Kosugi and a random white guy beat up the Village People in a playground in front of a large crowd and can walk away after impaling their hands with knives and belt-buckle shuriken.

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    I also can’t believe I thought it was strange there was still…

  • Sakura Killers

    Sakura Killers

    ★★★

    This keeps tip-toeing up to ninja-schlock greatness, but then trips over the awkward, unconvincing and painfully uncharismatic lead actor, or the plot structure beginning and ending with the ability to transition to the next scene.

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    This is a ridiculously simple plot about a stolen videotape and evil ninjas, but the whole setup of the heroes and their connection to this adventure was eternally confounding. I still don’t know why our lead had to…