The Ninja Wars (1982)

Iga_ninpochoThis next film was a very interesting choice for me. As far as foreign action films go, this film was quite a good one, with its blend of historical fantasy and martial arts action. Of course, since the film doesn’t have subtitles (or more accurately, because of my failure to find a dubbed or subtitled version), it is quite difficult to follow the story, but I gave it a try.

From what I could gather, a fortune teller has predicted that whoever marries the beautiful Ukio shall rule the world. Naturally, she attracts the attention of men vying for power, but none more so than the voraciously power-hungry Lord Donjo. Only the ninja Jotaru can stop him, but he must fight Donjo’s team of servants.

If you’re watching the original non-dubbed version, the main ways to follow the story are to either read up the synopsis on the Internet (which won’t serve you well), or pay attention to the way the characters act. You’ll see a lot of crazy sights in the film, including a ninja who attacks by spewing vomit which turns into foam (and who said you couldn’t be creative?), a magic soup that makes people horny (at least I think that’s happening), and a mannequin of Ukio that simply loses its head (it even looks like a mannequin’s head in the film).

Honestly, I thought it was really good despite not being able to fully understand what on Earth was going on. It’s the spectacle that was the most entertaining part, and that ultimately is how films like this can defy the language barrier. I also liked the acting to a certain extent. Of course the lines are all spoken in Japanese, but it was nice to hear the original language, and it’s certainly better than having a poorly translated dub over the original film (though that actually might have generated some accidental humour). Still, it would have been nice to have the option of subtitles available.

The film has very good production values on its side, with some really nice special effects from start to finish. I find that the film’s setting is very aesthetically pleasant, and most of the props look very good, though there are a few practical effects, such as the aforementioned mannequin head, look a bit fake. Apart from that, the visuals are very well-done. The action scenes are very well choreographed as well, with amazing fight scenes throughout the film, but there aren’t too many action scenes. There’s a nice mix of plot and action, in a similar fashion to other fantasy films, but I find that this film has a certain kind of character that makes it unique.

I actually like this film quite a bit, although I do think that there are ways in which there’s room for improvement, and I do wish I could have found a quality English dub. Other than that, I enjoyed the film very much, and would recommend this film to any film enthusiast looking for something different.

  • Score: 74%
  • Grade: C
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