Review: NINJA: SHADOW OF A TEAR (2013)
I never heard of Scott Adkins until the 2012 movie, Universal Soldier: Day Of Reckoning. I never saw the movie (took in the trailer though) and only noticed Adkins when one of the forums I frequent started a thread on the movie saying it was pretty good. Most of the reviews I read after that concurred.
The first movie I watched with Adkins was The Expendables 2 (2012) where he played a despicable second in command bad guy to Van Damme’s main villain. One I was glad to watch die at the hands of Jason Statham.
Ninja: Shadow Of A Tear is the official credits title, even though it is a sequel to Adkins’ 2009 movie, Ninja, the II only exists on the DVD and blu-ray cover. And there are no opening credits; they are mixed in with the end credits. Pet peeve of mine, I actually like opening credits and am not a big fan of them when they appear after the movie is over.
Adkins is a hell of martial artist whose moves reminded me of Jackie Chan. Here he’s reprising his Casey Bowman character, living in Japan, teaching his martial arts and preparing to have a baby with his fiancé, Namiko Takeda (Mika Hijii), also reprising her role from the first film. One night while he’s out at a local market getting Namiko food to satiate her pregnant cravings someone breaks into their home and kills her. He naturally suspects the two punks who tried to rob him earlier that day and hunts them down and kills them.
He then heads on down to a martial arts retreat owned by his friend, Nakabara (Kane Kosugi) to try and get some closure on Namiko’s death, to work out his anger and grief, but it just doesn’t work. In the meantime, someone ends up killing a student there in the same fashion as his wife’s. Nakabara then fills him in on some kind of blood feud/revenge thing this man Goro had planned since he was a child, Casey’s father was on that list and apparently anyone related to the man is being murdered. Now, Casey has a new mission, get his ass to Burma to confront this now drug kingpin and get his own revenge.
A nice twist at the end reveals something more . . .
Not a bad movie. The action scenes are certainly breathtaking and violent. Oddly, though, the gore is incredibly restrained despite the R-rating. Not something I normally complain about, its just here there is a few slit throats and even a beheading at the end, which for the type of strength used the slit throats are very minor cuts, shed little blood but create death nonetheless; the decapitation has no blood spurting at all.
The movie itself reminded me of Chuck Norris’ Forced Vengeance (1982) and a little bit of American Ninja (1985). I have to admit I was slightly disappointed in it. Even though it’s a nice homage to those martial art films of the 80s, I was hoping for more ninja action, some ninja-on-ninja action actually, which there was none, just lone ninja Casey, who finally suits up at the end. It was infinitely better than Ninja Assassin (2009) which made them far too comic bookish. While I still wait for a closer homage to those ninja films Sho Kosugi did back in the 80s, this will have to do.
Millennium Films releases the movie on DVD and Blu-ray separately with a 1080p high definition 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer in blu that looks very good. The English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD is good, too. You can also choose an English 2.0 Stereo if you like.
The extra features consist of a general Featurette (7:15), a Cast And Crew Interviews (12:36) and a Behind-The-Scenes (5:23) featurette. The first two repeat a lot of information and up to now I had no idea Adkins was British. His American accent is flawless. And the last extra is just footage of the crew filming scenes and prepping shots.
Extras are carried over to the standard DVD.