Action Movie Fanatix Review: Ninja


A Silent Warrior.  A Lethal Mission.

Starring: Scott Adkins, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Mika Hijii, Togo Igawa

Director: Isaac Florentine

2004  |  92 Minutes  |  Rated R

“What you have is mine.” – Masazuka

“So come and get it.” – Casey Bowman

My first experience with Ninja wasn’t the best.  It had been recommended to me by a friend.  I tried watching it while not in the mood for a ninja movie (having just seen Ninja Assassin) and never finished it.  Since then I had become a big fan of Scott Adkins but had not yet come back to give Ninja a fair shot.  Boy am I glad I finally picked it back up.

Casey Bowman (Scott Adkins) is an American who was abandoned by his parents at a Japanese Ninjitsu dojo as a young boy.  He grew up in the dojo learning the ways of the ninja.  Masazuka (Tsuyoshi Ihara) is Casey’s rival at the school.  Masazuka is powerful and decisive while Casey is dedicated and focused.  Both students possess necessary skills of the ninja.  After Masazuka draws a real blade on Casey during a sparring session the sensei (Togo Igawa) kicks Masazuka out of his dojo.  The sensei names Casey as his successor but knows that Masazuka will return for the Yoroi Bitsu, an armored chest that contains the ancient weapons of the Koga Ninja.  Casey and the sensei’s daughter, Namiko (Mika Hijii), travel to New York to hide the chest.  Masazuka, who has since become a ninja assassin for hire, returns to kill the sensei before going after Casey & Namiko in New York.

If you have seen any of Scott Adkins’ previous work then you already know how good he is.  His acting has improved since Ninja but it isn’t too bad here.  Tsuyoshi Ihara also plays the part of the cocky entitled assassin very well.

Isaac Florentine knows how to shoot an action scene as well.  One particular scene has Casey & Namiko fighting off a group of cultish thugs while on a subway train.  It is as good if not better than any of the set piece fights that Jackie Chan or Jason Statham have done.  Between Scott Adkins’ martial arts skills and Isaac Florentine’s direction the fights all look realistic yet far beyond what any of us watching would be capable of.  The only complaint I have is the CG blood effects tend to look a little fake but this doesn’t bug me as much as I know it does some people.

Ninja is a great Americanized ninja/martial arts film.  You don’t have the mysticism or history in many of its Japanese counterparts (good or bad) but the top notch action and direction make this a must watch for any action fan.