Monday, January 9, 2017


   I don't appreciate Scott Adkins half as much as I should. He is the second coming of the quintessential 80's action star. He's part Michael Dudikoff, and part Sho Kosugi, but with Schwarzenegger muscles, and Van Damme skill. He puts all of this to good use, and then some, in Ninja, the most authentic 80's action movie not actually from the 80's. It's a non-stop ninja fest from the start, letting Adkins showcase his skill and his muscles. He might not have the charisma of a Dolph Van Dammezenegger, but he makes for a superb action figure.

   The movie amazingly doesn't open with the Cannon logo, which is surprisingly because there's not a frame of this movie that doesn't feel like something Cannon would've made nowadays if they were still around. Instead, this is a Nu Image production, and that also makes a world of sense. A quick look at the movies they've put out and everything clicks. In the 90's they put out a movie called Cyborg Cop and it's sequels. Then a few Shark Attack movies, and later on they would produce Stallone's love letters to violence, Rambo (2008) and The Expendables trilogy. They're still cranking out 'hits' with the Olympus/London Has Fallen movies, giving Gerard Butler some basic ass-kicking work.

   Yet, despite all that cumulative blood spilt, punches thrown, and bullets fired, Ninja and its sequel, are still the best Nu Image has to offer. This is a production company that is almost exclusively trying with each movie they produce to recapture the craziness and timelessness of 80's action movies, and Ninja does it better than any of their other titles. Hell, Ninja does it better than most throwback movies period. Director Isaac Florentine has a perfect handle on the material, proving his movies to be the modern answer to the American Ninja movies, and cementing himself as a latterday Sam Firstenberg- that is of course when he's not busy making perfect throwbacks to the Bloodsport genre as well with Undisputed II and III.

   Ninja effortlessly entertains because it's a no-nonsense movie. Sure its silly, and the acting is borderline at best, but the actors play to the strength of the movie itself. The plot rockets along at a breakneck pace, efficiently sowing the bloody seeds of a violent revenge story between the two male leads. The ideas behind Ninja aren't anything new, but that's part of the point. This is a little bit of The Challenge, and a whole lot of Revenge of the Ninja. It delivers on the crazy action packed set pieces, over and over. Scott Adkins leaps, kicks, punches and flexes his way through swarms of bad guys, and I'm in action movie heaven.

   If there's any caveat, it would be the CGI gore, and boy is there a lot of it. As an old school actioner, the powers that be should've known that fans are sticklers about this kindof thing. I'm pleased as punch that the movie is so relentlessly violent, bloody, and features more than one dude in actual ninja outfits (you'd be surprised how many Ninja titled movies never actually have ninjas in them) but I seriously missed the old fashioned blood spray. This was made all the more apparent because I've also been watching the Lone Wolf and Cub movies lately, and they are over-damn-flowing with fake blood.

   When you get down to it, Ninja is still a damn fun ninja movie, and it's a better movie than Ninja Assassin was all the way around. But Ninja is still held back by it's conservative budget, and Ninja Assassin featured hoards of ninjas and much better looking, albeit still computer generated, blood and gore. Both movies have their place, but Ninja is the throwback you've been looking for. It's so much fun and deserves a much better fate than being forgotten about in someone's Netflix instant queue or being passed over in a DVD bargain bin. If you're an action fan like me, treat yourself. Watch Ninja.

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