By collectdx on August 03, 2011No comments
What happens when you combine two of the most infamous internet memes into a single movie? Probably something you wouldn't expect, as no film has ever created an entire plot that revolves around these two popular subjects: aliens and ninjas. From the creative mind of Seiji Chiba, the director behind Evil Ninja and Sengoku: Iga no ran, comes Aliens vs Ninjas and yes, they are serious.
The story revolves around the Iga clan, a historic family of elite ninjas during Japan's feudal era. During a routine clandestine mission, a mysterious asteroid crashes in a ball of flames deep into a forest under the Iga clan's control. The clan's leader sends out his strongest warriors, Yamata and Jinnai, to examine the area and seize control of the mysterious object before any rival clans approach it.
Yamata and Jinnai, along with titular female Iga clan member Rin, rush to the scene. Not all is what it seems, as the group runs into something entirely out of this world, and quickly find themselves fighting for their lives against aliens with voracious appetites.
The majority of the team becomes dispatched on the spot, and the surviving members of the group must form a plan to counterattack against the oncoming onslaught, or risk becoming dinner for their extraterrestrial visitors.
Despite the easily predictable plot, Alien versus Ninja excels in one major way: action. There's no lack of adrenaline-infused fight scenes to be found here, so martial arts fans will be perfectly at home. The choreography is top-notch, complete with computer graphic effects, wire-fu, and stunts of every kind imaginable.
Some of the action is a little too much over the top - Rin has one particularly memorable scene that will definitely raise an eyebrow or two. The aliens themselves are no slouches either, and constantly bend the rules of conventional wisdom, raising the testosterone levels to ridiculous heights.
Despite what seems like a winning formula, Alien vs Ninja isn't without its flaws. The costumes and visual effects are, while flashy and visually tasteful on paper, clunky and unimpressive in action. The suits are uninspired and bear more than a passing resemblance to popular Sentai TV shows. The action scenes really seemed to bear credence to this, as often times the movie felt like an hour long TV special instead of a full-fledged movie.
The CG itself is pretty underwhelming. I certainly didn't expect anything on the same level as Avatar, but the cheesy effects stood out more than the action scenes themselves. There were too many awkwardly stiff edits that cut away from the action, cheapening the overall experience.
I remember a time when cult Japanese films were cult because of the excessive emphasis on plot devices and visual effects. Blame it on low budgets or blame it on studios, but the quality overall with regard to Japanese live-action films have dipped over the past decade. Alien vs Ninja isn't Oscar material, but nor is it intended to be. If you enjoy campy humor and fairly well done fight scenes, you might find something worthwhile in Alien vs Ninja.