SciFi Japan

    Review: ALIEN VS NINJA

    The ninja Yamata (Masanori Mimoto) battles a killer alien (Katsu Itagaki) in ALIEN VS NINJA, the first film from Nikkatsu`s new genre label, Sushi Typhoon. Photo courtesy of Sushi Typhoon. © 2010 Sushi Typhoon & “Alien vs. Ninja” Production Committee

    Author: Elliot Gay Official Site: The Sushi Typhoon Special Thanks to Marc Walkow

    Let me preface this review by stating that I love films and filmmakers who do a lot with very little. In this day and age it’s hard to find big budget films that go beyond the pretty explosions and mega stars to make something that is legitimately fun and/or shows the audience something they haven’t seen before. Maybe that’s why I have a soft spot for low budget Japanese films that seem to do anything and everything despite whether it makes sense or not. Sushi Typhoon’s first release, ALIEN VS NINJA, fits that bill perfectly. No doubt the film was made on what amounts to about 1/100th of the budget of a big budget American film. However, this doesn’t stop director and writer Seiji Chiba from getting crazy and using every trick in the filmmaking book to entertain the viewer. The story is as follows: a squad of ninja are on a mission to take out an opposing group of ninja, only to find that they have in fact already been slaughtered by an outside force. A strange creature from space begins to pick off each member of the squad, eventually resulting in a final showdown between the remaining ninja and the growing numbers of the aliens. Yes, it is precisely as ridiculous as it sounds. Yet it is for that very reason however that the film never fails to draw a reaction from those watching it, or even those who catch a glimpse of it while walking by.

    The creatures themselves are brought to life via rubber suits and the performances of the actors within. The suits are clearly a low budget affair; think a slightly under budget monster suit from a super sentai series. They serve their purpose however of being relatively creepy and interesting to look at. The film does a good job of concealing them for the first half of the film, building suspense until they’re revealed for an exciting and fast paced mid-film action sequence. Action director Yuji Shimomura (VERSUS, RETURNER, SHINOBI: HEART UNDER BLADE) is at the helm of the action on display and if you’ve seen any of the other films he has worked on, you know you’re in for some quick and stylish fighting. In fact this was what was most surprising to me about the film. I was unaware going in that Shimomura was behind the choreography and so I was expecting very little from the actual combat in the movie. In far too many low budget Japanese action films the fight choreography suffers despite how creative everything else within the sequence is. Here however, Shimomura choreographs a large number of creative and violent set pieces that only get better as the film presses on.

    Yamata faces his deadliest opponent ever. Photo courtesy of Sushi Typhoon. © 2010 Sushi Typhoon & “Alien vs. Ninja” Production Committee

    The cast does an adequate job of bringing the film to life, particularly in regards to the action sequences (of course, props go to the stuntmen and women as well). In a lot of cases it appeared as though the actors did at least some portion of their own fight work, making it all the more impressive. Otherwise, each character fits the standard action movie tropes. Rather than be detrimental however, the film embraces this wholeheartedly to a comical effect. In fact I’d say ALIEN VS NINJA reminded me most of a Japanese version of PREDATOR. That isn’t to say the film is flawless, of course. Some of the visual effects can get pretty awful (the final sequence comes to mind), some of the attempts at humor fall flat and the film looks as though it were shot on video. In many cases these would be deal breakers for a film. Here, however, they are quickly forgiven due to the sheer entertainment per minute supplied. If you’re looking for a film to watch with friends on a Friday night with a beer in hand, look no further. ALIEN VS NINJA is that film. If this is to be the standard of Sushi Typhoon releases from here on out, count me on board.

    For more information on Sushi Typhoon please see the earlier coverage here on SciFi Japan:

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