My friends… it is a great day, because it has
all come full circle. Back in 1981 the White Guy Ninja
genre began with the amazingly awful 'Enter
the Ninja' and well over thirty years later we have the
borderline amazing film 'Ninja: Shadow of a Tear'.
'Enter' co-starred Sho Kosugi as the evil ninja the White Guy
Ninja had to lay waste to… and the circle closes with Sho's
baby boy Kane Kosugi showing his awesome skills to new
audience of White Guy Ninja fans. There is a tear in my
After surviving the harrowing events that occurred in the last
life is great for Casey Bowman (Scott Adkins). He is
living in Japan taking over his late Masters Dojo, but more
importantly he has wed and impregnated the achingly adorable
Ninjette, Namiko (Mika Hijii). Just look at how Casey
reacts as he looks longingly into her eyes, caresses her face,
touches the belly housing their unborn child, or tells her
over and over again he how much he loves her. Namiko's
eventual murder is about a rock solid a guarantee as a
guarantee can get. Even if this weren't in the synopsis,
tagline, and trailers… which it probably shouldn't have been…
this was a forgone conclusion.
Casey is crushed by the murder of his beloved, and when his
taller, better looking and silky smooth best friend Nakabara
(Kane Kosugi) shows up for the funeral, he lets Nakabara know
that the streets of Tokyo will run red until he finds out who
did this to his lady love… whomever the hell that might
be. I don't think Casey knows with any certainty who
might be responsible for this, but that's not going to stop
him from kicking people in the face and slicing throats.
So Casey should be good, right?
He's killed the people who he thinks killed his wife.
Thus he takes Nakabara up on his offer to hang out at his Dojo
in Thailand, but Casey is nowhere near good. He's still
miserable and angry and screwed up and still kicking people in
the face for
almost no reason which has Nakabara thinking
about rescinding his invite. Then some things happen
which indicate that maybe the dudes responsible for Namiko's
murder might still be alive, particularly the insanely brutal
Japanese drug lord Goro (Shun Sugata) and his signature barbed
wire star attack lance… or whatever the hell that thing was…
as Goro has had it out for Namiko's Clan ever since World War
II. Why he chose now, after all this time, to get his
revenge? Beats me, but that's an evil dude for you.
Now Casey has to go to Burma… I'm sorry… Myanmar, formerly
known Burma as the title card will repeatedly tell me in case
I didn't get it the first time, and Kill... Them… All.
And if Casey should survive this onslaught on Goro's compound,
Namiko will finally be Avenged! Or not. Who
knows? What we do know is folks are gonna seriously get
kicked in the face.
We really enjoyed director Isaac Florentine's first 'Ninja'
movie, with our only reservation in that film being that we
didn't think that Scott Adkins seemed very comfortable in the
role of a leading man. Kicking people in the face?
Man, this cat has probably got that down better than anybody
working today, not named Michael Jai White, but he looked
somewhat unsteady as the lead. That one minor
reservation has been summarily removed with the arrival of
'Ninja: Shadow of a Tear'… whatever the hell that means.
Now we're not saying that Scott is the second coming of Sir
Lawrence Oliver over here, but when it comes to this kind of
movie, I can't seriously fathom why this guy wouldn't be on
your short list of actors to put in your film. Kane
Kosugi should probably be pretty high on that short list too.
Like the first film, I'm thinking just about everything you
would want in your straight to VOD beatemup should be here…
tenfold. There's more action… better action even… the
film rarely slows down, and only occasionally does this so
Casey can imagine beautiful images of his dead wife, which
only makes him madder, which only leads to more people getting
kicked in the face or stabbed or sliced. And since this
movie was directed by Isaac Florentine we can rest assured
that the fight choreography, production values and
presentation are top notch with the final two fight sequences
being about as good as it gets for this day and age.
All that being said… however… and recognizing that we did
enjoy this movie an awful lot, the narrative supporting Casey
kicking people in the face was pretty out there, especially
once all is revealed to us, which puts this movie into the
realm of the Super Ridiculous. The narrative does
serve its main purpose in driving our hero relentlessly
forward on his path to destruction, but once this is over and
you play back the series of events that led to our hero taking
this path… just don't revisit it is all I can say. The
good thing is that if I'm deconstructing your action movie
story in the middle of your action movie, chances are I'm
watching a crap action movie. This one didn't cause us
to start deconstructing the narrative until it was over.
That's a good thing. And Scott Adkins still isn't much
of an actor. But to qualify this in context, the last
movie we saw directed by Isaac Florentine, before this one,
was called 'Assassins Bullet' starring Christian Slater and
Donald Sutherland. Are Christian Slater and Donald
Sutherland better actors than Scott Adkins? Sure they
are. But 'Assassins Bullet' was one of the worst movies
I'd seen that year. That movie needed somebody who could
kick someone in the face and make me believe it… not someone
who could act. I think Mr. Florentine has learned his
lesson with that one.
Regardless of all of that, the bottom line is that 'Ninja:
Shadow of a Tear'… whatever the hell that means… satisfied
most every base need that we require from our action
movies. Highly recommended.