Alien Vs Ninja DVD Review
Written and Directed by Seiji Chiba
2010, Region 2 (PAL), 81 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD released on 7th February 2011
Masanori Mimoto as Yamata
Shuuji Kashiwabara as Jinnai
Donpei Tsuchihira as Nezumi
Mika Hijii as Rin
Fresh from its 2010 festival run, Revolver Entertainment keeps its catalogue of eclectic oddities rolling with Seiji Chiba’s Alien vs. Ninja. From the title alone you can’t watch the movie expecting anything serious. Anecdotal reviews from those who have seen it with a festival audience are pretty good, and I can imagine that AvN would be a perfect crowd-pleaser at one of these events. That said, even in the solitude of one’s home, AvN delivers just over 80 minutes of arse-kicking, monsterislashing enjoyment that’s seldom experienced outside of the new-wave of Japanese action/gore cinema.
The film starts as the ninja from the Iga Clan are on a reconnaissance mission to scope out a castle belonging the the Koga Clan. I’m making the assumption that Iga is Japanese for ‘noisy bastards’, as the members of the group appear to be unable to make any movement without some kind of swooshing noise. And when they jump from a height, they land with all the grace and subtlety of a refrigerator being pushed from a first-floor window. As they head home they witness a fireball in the sky and are instructed by their master to go and investigate. We’ve covered ninja in the title, so you can guess what’s inside the fireball – men in rubber suits.
The Iga Clan, led by Yamata, starts off mob-handed. After its first encounter with the aliens the non-speaking background troops are quickly dispatched, leaving the core team of Jinnai (friendly rival of Yamata), Nezumi (bumbling, fool) and Rin (hot female ninja in figure-hugging catsuit). Nezumi is supposed to provide the comedy in the film, but falls into the typically Asian stereotype of being overweight, clumsy and stupid to get laughs (he doesn’t). He also plays on the fact he’s “old” when, in reality, he’s no older than his co-stars, he just has dyed blond hair and a few extra pounds round the midriff. But if we can buy the fact that a man in a rubber suit, with a head that’s a cross between a dolphin and a pepper-pot, is a dangerous xenomorph, then we can believe a chubby blonde Japanese guy is old.
As the group stands and surveys the assorted body parts that make up the remains of its troops, Yamata, perpetually ready to rumble, vows they will hunt down the creatures and get vengeance for their fallen brothers. It’s at this point they meet up with a young survivor, who witnessed his whole village murdered by the aliens and now wants revenge. Some kick-ass ninja skills would have been useful for him to tag along, but all he’s got is the ability to hide in the undergrowth when it all kicks off. Maybe he could teach Noisy Clan a thing or two about stealth, as he manages to go undetected in almost every battle.
Despite its obvious shortcomings, there’s something undeniably enjoyable about AvN. The action scenes are well choreographed and the swordplay is extremely impressive for a low-budget effort. The cast is reasonable, making the best of the preposterous scenario, and who wouldn’t enjoy watching a hot ninja chick strutting her stuff in a lycra suit? The pacing is right on the mark and with a fairly swift running time there’s little filler and plenty of showdowns between creature and clan.
If you’re a fan of other entries in the Japanese over-the-top action/gore category (someone really needs to invent a less verbose genre description for that one) then there’s plenty on offer here. Complete and utter nonsense that’s every bit as daft as the title suggests, but immensely satisfying escapist entertainment at the same time.
Video and Audio:
Crisp and cheerful picture quality with a pretty damn decent 5.1 Surround track that gets the job done well. Most of the action takes place during the day and the colours are crystal clear with no sign of any motion blur during the action sequences.
Not a sausage. Not even a trailer.