Thursday, January 19, 2012

Revenge of the Ninja

  Digging through old musty VHS bargain bins at out of the way pawn shops and old rental joints and you're likely to find plenty of 'Cannon' movies. A film studio that would produce hundreds of low to medium budget movies from 1963 to 1993.  These movies are cinematic junk food. Most made on a shoestring budget or on a quick money-grab whim. They aren't exactly synonymous with terms like 'good' or 'quality', god forbid the terms ever meet 'good quality'. To call anything in their lower rung of titles 'good quality' would be an insult to the adjectives themselves. However... you can definitely, and with clear conscience, attach 'fun' and 'carefree' to most of these flicks. Enter: Revenge of the Ninja.

  Starring martial arts, b-movie god Sho Kosugi as Cho Osaki a man who's hunted by ninjas who kill almost his entire family at his home in Japan, leaving only his mother and infant son alive. His friend Braden offers him a new and prosperous life in America for him, his son, and his mother. Cho agrees and leaves his life as a ninja behind. Six years later however, Osaki's life is being turned upside down as he discovers his new art gallery has been a front for smuggling drugs. As he begins to track down the corruption, he finds the root of it, is closer to home than he ever could've imagined. He must now avenge his family, restore his honor, and take justice into his own hands.

  Its not a bad plot. And for what it is, its not a bad movie either. But sometimes... its so corny that you can't help but laugh. Fortunately, and to its own credit, the tone isn't played for camp, and throughout the movie it actually does provide plenty of dramatic moments that can be taken completely seriously. However, if you're expecting a 'quality' movie, you're looking in the wrong place. This is a cheese fest, that just happens to have some surprisingly cool moments. Not to mention it feels like an ideal 80's ninja flick. Its action packed from start to finish and keeps a relentless pace throughout. Whether you've turned it into a drinking game, or you actually dig these kinds of corny 80's action shlock, its impossible to be bored with this movie.

  The acting ranges from momentarily great, to downright awful, but the lead, Sho Kosugi is pretty serviceable throughout. He's only really ever required to display two or three varying emotions, but he's convincing. Any other shortcomings is purely the script's fault.  If you came looking for ninjas, swords, and gore, pull up a chair and pop the popcorn- you're in for a treat. I had a pretty fun time with it. And in the big picture, its throwaway cinema. But who says that means it can't be fun?

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