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Ninja Hunter (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 10, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Seiji Chiba’s “Ninja Hunter” has plenty of action scenes and will no doubt entertain popcorn action fans.  But as an overall film, it was an average film at best.

Images courtesy of © 2017 Funimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Ninja Hunter

FILM RELEASE: 2015

DURATION: 101 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 16:9, Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: November 14, 2017


Directed by Seiji Chiba

Executive Producer: Tadashi Osumi, Toshihiro Takahashi

Produced by Kazunori Moriguchi, Tetsuya Shimokado, Kiwamu Sato, Seiji Chiba

Line Producer: Koichi Maehashi, Koji Inagaki

Director of Photography: Kenji Tanabe and Atsushi Yoshida

Music: Kuniyuki Morohashi

Costume Designer: Sachi Harada/


Starring:

Masanori Mimoto as Tao

Mei Kurokawa as kei

Mickey Koga as Mitsuki Koga

Kentaro Shimazu

Kazuki Tsujimoto


Tao, a ninja from the Iga clan, wakes up in a cave surrounded by dead bodies, including a beautiful female ninja. Suffering from amnesia, he can’t remember how or why he’s there, or if he’s the one responsible for this massacre. His task at hand is to retrieve a document that will reveal the killer’s identity. Who is the killer? Was one of his clan a traitor? Who is the female ninja?

As Tao fights various other ninja, he begins to piece together his memories with their stories. But instead of solving the enigma, a web of betrayal unfolds.


 

From Seiji Chiba, the director of “Alien vs. Ninja” and “The Kunoichi: Ninja Girl” comes his 2015 film “Ninja-gari” (Ninja Hunter) which was released in November 2017 in the U.S. courtesy of Funimation.

The film stars Masanori Mimoto (“Alien vs. Ninja”, “Yakuza Apocalypse”) as Tao, a ninja from the Iga Clan.  When Tao wakes up he finds another ninja who tells him that he killed all the ninjas laying around and including a female ninja.

Suffering from amnesia, Tao doesn’t know what happened and those responsible for the massacre try to manipulate him into thinking that he was responsible.

But as Tao can’t believes that he could have killed Kei (portrayed by Mei Kurokawa), a female ninja that he cares about.  He slowly starts to regain his memories.


VIDEO:

“Ninja Hunter” is presented in 1080p High Definition and is a film that looks great in HD.   Makeup designers play a big part in the film in creating the scars of Tao and his enemies.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Ninja Hunter” is presented in Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, so this is a front-speaker driven soundtrack with crystal clear dialogue, a lot of sword clanging and music.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Ninja Hunter” comes with no special features but a trailer.

EXTRAS:

“Ninja Hunter” comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD version of the film.


Seiji Chiba knows how to make budget-based ninja films with a lot of action.

While h is films are far from being memorable ninja films, one can admit that he is able to direct numerous over-the-top ninja films such as “Alien vs. Ninja” and “The Kunoichi: Ninja Girl”.

“Ninja Hunter” was no doubt low budget.  Blood splatters are added digitally, despite no matter how many ninjas are slashed to death, there is no blood on the ground and even the female ninja, Kei has highlights in her hair.

Primarily shot inside a cave, the film relies heavily on fight choreography.

In fact, the film is mostly about the action and takes place inside the cave with the occasional shot of the ninjas in a forest area but you can see how Chiba was able to keep costs down by directing a film that lies primarily in one location, reusing a lot of actors to make it seem like there is an onslaught of ninjas.

The film no doubt feels like a B-movie that aims to satisfy popcorn action fans that want to see ninjas fight but I have to say “Ninja Hunter” was probably Chiba’s most action-driven film with awesome sword-fighting scenes but at the same time, story-wise, was among his weakest films in his oeuvre.

The Blu-ray is a barebones Blu-ray release with no special features but it does come with a Blu-ray and DVD.

Overall, Seiji Chiba’s “Ninja Hunter” has plenty of action scenes and will no doubt entertain popcorn action fans.  But as an overall film, it was an average film at best.

 

Alien vs. Ninja (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc)

February 25, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The concept may seem unusual but for a Sushi Typhoon film, it’s actually a pretty fun, anime-esque live action sci-fi/horror film.  Plenty of humor, violence and action… I found “Alien vs. Ninja” to be quite entertaining and hilarious.

 

Images courtesy of © 2011 FUNimation Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Alien vs. Ninja

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2010

DURATION: 81 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080i High Definition (16×9 – HD Native), Dolby TrueHD Japanese 5.1, Dolby TrueHD English 5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Nikkatsu/Sushi Typhoon, FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV MA

RELEASE DATE: February 22, 2011

Directed by Seiji Chiba

Produced by Seiji Chiba, Yoshinori Chiba

Executive Producer: Akifumi Sugihara

Cinematography by Tetsuya Kudo, Ryo Uematsu

Editing by Seiji Chiba

 

Starring:

Masanori Mimoto as Yamata

Mika Hijii as Rin

Shuji Kashiwabara as Jinnai

Donpei Tsuchihira as Nezumi

Yuki Oge

The fiercest ninjas of the Iga clan face their toughest enemies – and they aren’t from this planet! A fiery mass crashes in the forest and soon horrifyingly savage creatures reduce the warriors to tasty snacks. But these extraterrestrials have bitten off more than they can chew: swords and throwing stars may fail against unearthly goons, but ninja skills don’t stop at sharp stuff.

From the filmmakers behind “Tokyo Gore Police” and “The Machine Girl” join the Sushi Typhoon to bring a Japanese sci-fi, horror comedy for International audiences.

Director Seiji Chiba knnown for “Evil Ninja”, “Sengoku: Iga no Ran”, “Red Letters” returns with “Alien vs. Ninja”, a film that incorporates Western alien sci-films and anime-style action and bring them together for an alien attacks film that takes place in feudal Japan.  This time…the ninjas become the hunted!

The film begins with three ninjas who infiltrate a rival clan’s castle and blows it up.  The three are being pursued by ninja.  While they run, we are introduced to the team leader Jinnai (played by Shuji Kashiwabara), the cocky warrior Yamata (played by Masanori Mimoto) and the always scared but crafty weapons developer Nezumi (played by Donpei Tsuchihira).

Nezumi gives a weapon to Mimoto for him to use in battle and as the three are surrounded by enemy ninja, Yamata (played by Masanori Mimoto) easily defeats them in battle, while one is kept alive and Mimoto tests Nezumi’s spinning top. Unfortunately, the weapon does not work (as most of Nezumi’s weapons do not work) in battle.

But as they finish with their mission and are about to return home, a big fireball comes from the sky and lands near them.  Instead of investigating, the three head back home and Yamata is admonished by his clan’s administrative leaders and reminded that he was not born a ninja but was taken in by the clan.  All three are told to see their master who needs to talk to them.

Meanwhile, in the forest, another ninja clan is planning to head back home.  This one led by Rin (played by Mika Hijii, “Kamen Rider Blade”) who led several ninjas with her to investigate an intuition that she had but proved to be fruitless.  The group also sees a fireball flying over them and landing.

As Jinnai and his men meet with their master, they are told to investigate the fireball that has flown over and so, the three take off on another mission.  But before they go, Nezumi introduces a new weapon, a pistol that shoots out bullets, like a Western weapon.

As the three joke around and have fun, they run into Rin’s group and tell them that together, they need to investigate the fireball that landed near them.  And as the ninja travel towards the forest, they see a boy running and is bloodied.  They try to find out more details but the boy can’t speak.

Next thing you know, the ninjas are attacked as one by one, someone is literally eating them alive or tearing their body limps apart. They realize their opponent is a monster they have not seen before.

With the majority of the ninjas slaughtered, only the living…Jinnai, Yamata, Nezumi, Rin and one of her ninja from her group, along with the boy are the last ones living and they retreat.

As they retreat, one of the aliens shows up and we see small aliens coming out of its head and one of them going inside the nose of one of the wounded ninja.

Knowing that they are taking on an opponent that they have never come across that is so tough to beat, the living ninjas must decide if they are willing to fight or are willing to die fighting these killer monsters.

VIDEO:

“Alien vs. Ninja” is presented in 1080i High Definition (16×9, HD Native).  While it’s shot via digital, you can tell the difference of high quality digital and digital that is good enough.  For those familiar with Japanese indie films like “Alien vs. Ninja” (or the various horror/zombie films) will know what I mean about the quality. It’s digital, it’s good digital but not the same high end digital that delivers in amazing detail.  You do get good blacks but you will not see skin pores or major detail and it’s probably a good thing.

As the monsters does carry that Sentai feel of rubberized monster suits, the picture quality as is produces a better effect of not making the aliens look so rubbery.  Granted, the low budget alien monsters, its babies or symbiotes do look like something that you want to give to your dog as a chew toy, I suppose that since I’m so used to this genre and watching these type of Japanese films, I’m too used to it.  Otherwise, those who are not familiar with the genre and are more likely to complain how the monsters look cheap, will probably be disappointed.

I, on the other hand, watch “Alien vs. Ninja” and will say that compared to many of the Japanese zombie and indie horror films that I have seen in awhile, “Alien vs. Ninja” is among the better ones out there.

 

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Alien vs. Ninja” is presented in Dolby TrueHD Japanese and English 5.1.  Because I prefer to watch my live action Asian films in their original presentation, I preferred watching it in Japanese and could only listen to English for a short while.  First the English dub, I will say that because FUNimation Entertainment employs talent voice actors, the voice acting is much better than Dimension Films or from other companies.

But with that being said, the Japanese lossless soundtrack is good.  You can hear ambiance from the forest, the stomping of leaves, the clanging of steel on steel, the gun shots, Rin’s iron fists and various action-based sounds utilized through the surround channels.  Dialogue is crystal clear from the center and front channels and for the most part, I’m happy to see that an Indie film such as “Alien vs. Ninja” does utilize the surround channels.  It’s of course not immersive but still it is utilized throughout the film at times.

Subtitles are presented in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Alien vs. Ninja” comes with the following special features:

  • Alien vs. Ninja – Making Of – (19:32) Director Seiji Chiba and action director Yuji Shimomura talk about the film, how it came to be, the action used in the film, the talent also talk about their characters and participating in the film, plus Sochi Umezawa talks about the makeup and effects for the film.
  • Original Trailer– (3:07) The English trailer for the film.
  • Coming Soon – FUNimation Entertainment titles coming soon or are currently available.

EXTRAS:

“Alien vs. Ninja” comes with a slipcover case.

I literally grew up watching sentai and watching Japanese indie monster films and horror films that you pretty much expect rubbery suits, poorly executed decapitated heads and limbs, bad acting and some of the worst action that is only helped with the banal use of nude women and women in sexy outfits doing copious amounts of fan service.

With that being said, “Alien vs. Ninja” is not that type of film.  In fact, for an indie sci-fi, humor and horror driven storyline, it does have the rubbery suits, it does have hilarious moments and cheesy special effects but there is actually a storyline and the use of talent that are able to execute the moves.

First thing you will notice is how much of an anime-type feel “Alien vs. Ninja” tends to have and that is courtesy of writer and director Seiji Chiba who wanted the film to contain the Western elements of sci-fi but also utilizing over-the-top anime action.  And for ninjas, you expect guys that can fight and that is another major plus because for those who have seen Japanese indie films, typically the characters are so slow and can’t fight, it’s way too evident that a director hired his buddies, best friends or an adult actress to star in the role.

Not the case with “Alien vs. Ninja”.  Masanori Mimoto and Shuji Kashiwabara are effective in their role.  Kashiwabara as the calm, cool and collected leader Jinnai and Mimoto as the cocky ninja Yamata.  Both are involved in major fighting scenes and they give full effort in trying to make the film fun by seeing them kick some butt!

Granted, you have your obligatory goof ball and actor Donepi Tsuchihira fits the role of Nezumi perfectly.  He is so inept as the weapons-maker that you wonder how this bumbling character is going to survive… or will he?

But as a ninja film, don’t expect anything remotely connected to the style of ninjas.  The goal of director Seiji Chiba was to have this battle between alien vs. ninja take place but the ninjas being stylish and modern.  As for the aliens…

Granted, the things they are fighting most of the time are these aliens that look like half alien, half shark or whatever monster these aliens were inspired from, but they are essentially people wearing rubber monster suits.  You can see the rubber suits and no matter how much special makeup and design artist Sochi Umezawa had to mask it, because this is a low-budget indie film, you work within the budget and in this case, the aliens work.  And why it works is because if you have watched Ultraman, Godzilla, Gamera, Kamen Rider or any of the Sentai-related TV shows or films, you are used to the rubberized monsters.  it’s part of Japanese sci-fi and indie, campy goodness to be found in a film of this nature and it works!

And a big credit goes to using actress Mika Hijii for the role of Rin.  She is sexy, flexible and is put into various scenes showcasing her flexibility but also in many action scenes that don’t suck!  How many times have I watched a Japanese indie film where the female talent that may be as hot as hell but are literally slow as molasses.  And for the hardcore otaku and NEET’s who are hoping to see Mika show some skin, it’s not going to happen in this film.  But you will see her in tight vinyl showcasing her athleticism.

When it comes to indie sci-fi/horror films in Japan, I have to admit that most of the time, I end up feeling a bit underwhelmed.  But having seen them so many times, you expect the quality to be around the same.  Horror + campy comedy without any efficacy, just done for the sake of being created and churned out to the masses who want to see horror but I’m guessing, primarily nudity (as a lot of these films tend to star adult or gravure stars), but “Alien vs. Ninja”, although it retains campiness, the film is helped with people who look like they can fight, demonstrate it well on-screen and a storyline that believe it or not, works for this kind of film.  And with that being said, for an indie sci-fi/horror film, it’s one of the better ones I have seen come out of Japan in a long while and I thoroughly enjoyed it (and laughed a lot while watching this film).

If you enjoy these type of films and are familiar with how Japanese indie horror/sci-fi films are, then by all means, give “Alien vs. Ninja” a chance!

 

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