Sunday, 25 September 2011

The Kunoichi: Ninja Girl


Directed by: Seiji Chiba
Screenplay: Seiji Chiba
Starring: Rina Takeda, Mayu Onomura, Shiho Fujisawa, Kotono

Japanese writer and director Seiji Chiba sure is churning out these cheap and cheerful ninja flicks. From the over-the-top Alien Vs Ninja, to the rather quite good Rogue Ninja and to the awesomely titled Evil Ninja, Chiba certainly likes his ninja movies (he also wrote the awesome Death Trance starring Versus main man Tak Sakaguchi: track it down if you can) and usually that is no bad thing. Ninja movies: awesome. Lots of cool fight scenes: awesome. Plenty of over-the-top concepts and gore: awesome. Chiba’s films have often featured at least one, if not all, of these but unfortunately Ninja Girl might just be one quickie ninja flick too many.

Ok, so it’s not that bad and essentially more of the same. The film certainly has an over-the-top concept: some nasty male ninja dudes (who have had their genitals cut off for some inexplicable reason!!) are kidnapping women and delivering them to a nearby town to be used as tools of pleasure for the higher ranking officials (who still have their genitals: presumably). Some other evil ninja then kidnaps one of the said kidnapped women himself (!) and plans to get her infected with a horrible sexual disease (by some gross looking dude kept in a cave) and then have her infect the entire town she is being sent to (the town is home to a rival ninja clan he wants to wipe out). On top of this, the original evil dudes didn’t bank on one of the women they kidnapped being a badass ninja. She is and she’s Rina Takeda (from other high kicking films such as Karate Girl and High Kick Girl: awesome titles!) who, eventually, kicks everybody’s butt. That’s a lot to fit into 65 minutes.

And this is the problem: almost too much going on. Well, too much explanation of what is going on. The film only features two sets (a forest and that cave recycled from both Alien Vs Ninja and Rogue Ninja) and for a film clocking in at just over an hour (a B-movie runtime if there ever was one) there is an awful lot of exposition about how evil this person is and what evil plans this person has and what this evil person is going to do and so on and so on. While not particularly graphic there is also a rather misogynistic and perverse tone that ultimately mars the film from being outright fun. Sure, Chiba is at least doing something a little different with the ninja genre (than just fighters out for revenge or to regain honour) but what we want is high kicking, sword wielding action.

Thankfully there is at least one standout action sequence. Takeda takes on one of the bad dudes in an awesome brawl that is tightly choreographed, well filmed and features some wicked swordplay. The girl can fight and Chiba can certainly craft an action sequence. Unfortunately it’s all too little too late and makes Ninja Girl (awesome title again) a bit of a disappointment. Chiba is still an action writer/director to watch but this doesn’t have as much kick ass action as Rogue Ninja or the bonkers fun of Alien Vs Ninja.

No comments: