Ninja Month: Shogun's Ninja
EBBC of a Million Zillion Ninjas
It's may be Labor day, but that doesn't mean we can't still Ninja Month it up! Sevenhertz is proud to present to you the finest in ninja based reviews, and this time we've got a movie that actually features damn-ass Ninjas. The third installment of Ninja Month is actually a movie that might be enjoyable enough for most to cleanse their pallate of the foul limberger taste of Ninja Wars, but still wholly and intrinsically flawed enough for the good old EBBC Treatment.
'What's this magic film that can be both good and bad, D.Davis,' I hear you murmuring under your breath in question. Doubting my very words. If I were a petty man, I wouldn't even tell you the name of it. However, since you've been so good to me in the past and we're good friends, and you did give me that ride down to the recycling center when I fused my wang to that aluminum siding wall. I trust you. So here it is, the title of the movie that you've been waiting for: The Shogun's Ninja.
On the face, that title doesn't make sense. As we all know in our fictional works of fantasy and flights of fancy, the shogun and the samurai are the sworn enemies of the ninja, wait a moment though, and I'll explain this movie to you like I've done so many times before in the past.
In the beginning, we are faced with the shogun of all Japan. He seems like an okay guy, a little bloodthirsty but you can respect that. He orders his right hand man to eliminate the entire Momochi Clan. I believe they call this guy Joegun or Dogan or they may call him Shogun. It's one of those things that's really hard to hear. He's got two assistants, and he believes that they are undefeatable for the most awesome of awesome reasons. "I raised them from birth, one is deaf, one is mute, they are unbeatable." This is good news for all you aspiring martial artists out there. To become invincible in combat, training is not essential. In fact, it's rather secondary. All you have to do is jam something very sharp into your ears until you pierce the drum, and have your friend do the same with his vocal cords. You could do it vice verse, but face it you've got good ideas and you want them to be heard.
They go off to kill Lord Momochi and his family, and when they get there to do it, they do it in again, the most awesomest of ways possible. The guy, who I'm going to call Dogan from now on, has his henchment jump onto his own head, until they are all standing on each other in a row in a move that can only be called the guyscraper. In this stance, they are a killing machine. They killed Lord Momochi, and then go on through his castle, ravaging the landscape with their deadly forces of death.
While they're off slaughtering the minions of Momochi, a retainer finds his wife and son, and tells her the news. In short order, Lord Momochi's wife takes her own life. Then, while the young Momochi is spirited away, some ninja in blue start descending on the place and they do their jobs the only way they know how. WITH VIOLENCE!
Then the credits begin. Now this movie is off the same exact DVD as NINJA WARS was. The same one, down to the third disc. Some things definitely got lost in the remastering and formatting of this film, as there are often times when things are cut off the sides of the screen, and the movie is already in letterbox format.
We're five minutes in. Ninjas seen: Like twenty man, it was amazing.
Now that we're into the meat of the plot, it's time to look at the back of the box for the synopsis. Third-Disc DVD gets shafted again with this gripping retelling:
SHOGUN'S NINJA: Bitter Rivalry between two Ninja clans has left countless dead over decades of fighting. During a critical point in their war with each other, one of the kings sends his ommander in search of two mystical daggers. 193/ Running time: 112 mins. / Rated: R for RAAAAAAAAAAAR NINJAS
That plot synopsis up there? Wholly inaccurate. You see, the mystical dagger is actually a sword, a sword that the young Momochi is given by his father's retainer at the beginning of the movie. More inaccuracies will be revealed, but let's discuss the return of TAKAMARU MOMOCHI for a MOMOMENT. You see, this guy was instantly familiar to me because he's HIROYUKI SANADA. If you haven't been paying attention. Jotaro from Ninja Wars. He sails into Japan from hiding out in China all these years, where a group of people discuss, in fake british peasantfolk accents, the delightful thief 'Itchy-ka Gammon'. Now, I know my crazy japanese historical figures that pop up in films and books all the time, and I'm pretty sure they're talking about Ichikawa Goemon. Everyone in this film calls him Itchy-Ka Gammon, though. It's one of the many weird audio things that go on in this film more often than not.
As Jotakuaruro gets further into port, some big goofy looking guy thrusts him in to the feudal japanese equivalent of a strip club. Part of this scene really spoke to me, as two hot asian chicks in kabuki facepaint kissed and embraced each other on the stage, before one undid the other's kimono and then...
Then some jackass ruined it. One of the Shogun's policemen jumped up on stage in an attempt to try and get a little bit of that
rape seduction that the Devil Monks were so fond of. This of course makes Takumaru flip out and start fighting them off with his chinese martial arts. He smacks them around silly, and escapes afterwards to the rooftops. Not before two people notice that he's carrying that sword. That mystical sword. Two people notice this. Big Goofy Guy, and Hattori Hanzo(Isao Natsuyagi). The person who gets to him first is Big Goofy guy, followed by two other guys from the port who were trying to sell a monkey show to the crowd. It turns out that these three are the remaining members of the Momochi Clan. While they're explaining that, the fourth survivor shows up. So these FOUR guys are the remaining members of the Momochi Clan.
This fourth guy wants to know why he should follow Takumaru, and to prove his mettle, Takumaru is willing to fight. Now. The fights in this movie are actually pretty good, I'm not going to begrudge them or say 'OH JESUS THAT WAS STUPID WHAT DID HE PULL OUT OF THAT GUYS HEAD' or 'WHERE DID THAT CLIFF COME FROM?'
I will say one thing though. 70s porn music. Let me say this once more so it sinks in. Nineteen-Seventies pornography music. Why do I think this bears repeating? Nearly the entire score for this movie is full of it. The wah-pedal is no stranger to this film. Every fight scene is almost a silent invitation for Ron Jeremey to burst through the wall with his nine-inch wang and fight off the entire Hiyoshi army with it.
After this fight, the FIFTH SURVIVOR of the Momochi Clan shows up, with a bunch of ninja who are also survivors of the Momochi Clan. You know, with results like these, I don't know why Shogun keeps Dogan around. It would seem to me that if I gave someone a job of Eliminating everyone in a certain clan, and they didn't actually eliminate everyone in that Clan, I'd be a little bit ticked off. In fact, I'd probably ask for a refund. These ninjas are also pretty cool. They're very well camoflauged. They climb up trees like maniac spiders (thanks to the help of wire-work) and they don't have any lines. Silent...but deadly.
So now Takumaru knows that he's got an army at his disposal if he wants one. It's time to plan for some revenge. Now the key to revenge is etched on his 'mystical dagger' or sword as normal people call it. It supposedly has the location of the hidden Momochi gold etched on the blade. When Takumaru looks at it, the disappointing truth is that it's only got half the location. While he's looking at the halfmap, his sister shows up. THE SIXTH MOMOCHI SURVIVOR. She wants the sword too, because she's been adopted by Hanzo.
Meanwhile, one of the Momochi survivors' wife comes in to tell him she told the shogunate police about their little band of Gammon. Because that's who they are. When this guy tries to go save his friend she latches onto him, begging to be killed but not for him to go. Through her sobs he objects to betraying his friends because clearly he's a big proponent of the saying, "Bros before hos," but is swayed in his argument is defeated when she tells him she's pregnant. Pussy.
So then we're treated to another fight full of spider ninjas climbing up trees with.. Alright, again 70s porn music. This also brings us to the next audio quirk of this movie. Now, kung-fu films are usually full of foley art that is exaggerated to add dynamic action to the scenes, but this is just ridiculous. Every motion has a sound attached to it, with spider ninjas climbing trees like 'chh-chh-chh-chh-chh-chh-chh-chh' and people jumping through the air like 'Woaaaaahassssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh'. It's an auditory experience the likes of which I've never heard. Their foley art is monumental!
In the end, they capture Takumaru and his buddies, except for the one that was a pansy and didn't come to help them because of his wife, and my dreams are realized. You see, when I had to watch Ninja Wars, I said to myself, "Man. I wish someone would beat Jotaro with sticks for being the worst ninja ever." Ahh, wish fulfillment. This torture scene is easily the most enjoyable thing in the movie. For every blow that rains down upon our hero, your smile just gets bigger if you had to watch Ninja Wars.
After the torture, of course he needs to escape, and he does this in a daring way, by swinging upside down towards a candle, and grabbing it in his mouth. Wooooooooosh. Woooooooooosh. Said the foley artist, as the asian man swang towards the fire. Wooooosh Wooosh. Said the foley artist, faster and faster until finally Takumaru escapes. Unfortunately, on the other side of town, his friends are about to be executed. Executed in boiling hot oil, which is another reason why I believe Gammon is totally Goemon. Takumaru isn't going to stand for this, but before he can act, Pansy from before runs into the execution site, proclaims himself to be Gammon, and leaps into the oil. His wife runs after and is cut down by the guards who didn't even try to stop her husband. I think they just hated her as much as I did.
This nails it home for Takumaru, and he must act. While he runs towards the execution site all hell breaks loose. Mole ninjas jump up from under the ground, a katana man flips over the gate, and everybody starts kung-fu fighting. As expected, the heavy wah pedal comes into play. Nearly everyone gets killed, including Katanaman, fifth momochi survivor and his band of spider ninjas, and random japanese citizens when they decide to start throwing rocks at the fight. Also third survivor dies as well. It looks like Takumaru is just as incapable at this revenge thing as his enemy is at this 'eliminate all Momochis' thing.
This is the halfway point in the movie. To signify this fact, we're treated to Takumaru mourning over the loss of his friends in front of a fire via interpretive dance mixed with kung-fu training. Seriously. He's dancing around the campfire. I think I even saw him do jazz hands.
After this, they talk about how their revenge will suck and there's no point when out of nowhere comes.. SHIRANUI. Sonny Chiba. Atop a cliff, he stands with his white flowing beard twirling in the breeze, before throwing his cane off the cliff, and them jumping down it. Finally, some supernatural ninjary. He tells the remaining trio that he will train them in the secret ways of the Iga ninja, because they suck and they shouldn't. Up until the last fight of this movie, the trio of heroes enters into PANTSLESS O'CLOCK.
There's your run of the mill training montage, with the best montage music ever. It is available right here.
There's a guy falling off a cliff and being told to crawl back up it if he ever wants to be a fighter.
There's a severe lack of pants. Oh man, c'mon guys.
After the training is complete, Shiranui reveals that he was the one who was entrusted with the other Momochi blade. So this is the death knell of inaccuries in the plot synopsis, no one was really looking all that hard for them throughout the entire movie, except for Hattori Hanzo, but he's a dick. We find this out moments later after Takumaru's sister's failed attempt to steal the two swords to give to Hanzo. You see, Takumaru with his newfound ninja training, totally owns his sister. Shiranui says that he still lacks one ingredient and tells Takumaru to kill his sister, in turn, Takumaru stabs Shiranui through the sides. Then Takumaru's sister runs off to Hanzo who bitchslaps the everloving hell out of her. This bitchslap scene went on for two whole minutes.
I want you to do an experiment at home. Find a pillow. Get a stop watch. Have someone say 'start' and start the stopwatch while you start bitchslapping the pillow. Don't stop until you hear the word stop at the two-minute mark. Understand now that Hanzo is a total dick.
Takumaru meanwhile meets up with the woman who taught him how to fight the Chinese way, Arlen. Who I totally mentioned before. Don't bother rereading it, because even if it's not there it was heavily implied. Anyone who couldn't pull her name and general appearance out of thin air from the information I provided clearly just does not know the way of the ninja. Anyways, she wants to fight along side of him while he's getting revenge. He agrees because he thinks she's hot. Me. Not so much. She kinda looks like she has the downs.
Hanzo, realizing that he was a monumental dick, finds out when Dogan is leaving the castle, and passes this message along to Takumaru through Takumaru's sister who everyone is now cool with again because Downschick trusts her.
"If downschick trusts her, so does my penis...I mean I" -- Takumaru.
So they look through his route, and plan an awesome trap. Full of caltrop launchers, balls, and all sorts of ninja tomfoolery. Pantsless O'clock is over, Takumaru puts on pants. Revenge is serious business. When Dogan's army runs into his trap. He hangs from a rope and is all, "Hey guys, how's it going. Momochi Clan GON' GIVE IT TO YA!"
Dogan is not impressed by this and orders his archers and musketeers to fire upon this new Ninja Takamaru. He avoids these arrows in the most ridiculous way ever. He spins on the rope. Not like dangling from it and spinning, but as in hanging to the side and spinning it like he were the loop part of a lasso. For some reason arrows and bullets can't hit twirling idiots. Then it's on like Diddy Kong. A massive fight scene erupts. Lots of people die. Goofy Big Guy gets killed by running into one of his own traps. Guy who crawled up the mountain dies protecting Takumaru's sister. Some guy Downschick brought with her dies in a swamp. Lots of death and destruction is going on here. Ron Jeremy is humping some girl in the bathroom, because there's that music again.
Finally, downschick herself gets shot after becoming a swinging pendulum of nunchuck destruction to protect Takumaru from musketeers. After nearly everyone except Takumaru and his sister buy it, Hattori Hanzo feeling this the perfect dick moment to lend a hand shows up out of nowhere with a million zillion ninjas. Dogan and his mute and deaf henchmen form the guyscraper again. Then unform it quickly by leaping at Hanzo, and escaping on horseback.
Hanzo tells Takumaru he'll deal with Dogan's army, and Takumaru leaps on a horse and follows Dogan into a rock quarry for the ultimate Final Showdown. The guyscraper is formed again, but Takumaru leaps through it, cutting off deafy's hand and slicing deep into mutey's face. Only Dogan is left. And he gets himself a sword in the neck. Takumaru's vengeance is complete. Everyone's dead, but because he revenged himself, Tokugawa can become the new Shogun.
So what's left to wrap up? The loose ends of the swords. Hanzo still wants them, and he's still a dick. Takumaru refuses to give them to him, so Hanzo is about to prepare himself for a fight. Takumaru, knowing that the only way to fight dickery is counter-dickery, throws them into the ocean and rides off on horseback with his sister. That's the end of the Shogun's Ninja.
Congratulations, the second installment of Ninja Month has been completed by you.
Man, I don't know what D.Davis is talking about, this movie rocked. The music, the goofy guy, that two minute bitchslapping scene. Those ninja have ears, D.Davis. You won't live to see the end of Ninja Month, my friend.