Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Ninja Hunter

“In 1581 during a bitter feud between 2 ninja clans, Tao, a ninja from the Iga Clan, wakes up with amnesia. Forty ninjas lie dead in front of him and off to one side lies a dead female ninja. He doesn't remember how and why he got there. His assignment is to retrieve a document that will reveal the traitor's identity. Who killed all the ninjas? Is one of them the traitor? Little by little Tao solves the mystery.”

(Text from the Festival's program)

WARNING: May contains trace of spoilers! People allergic to the discussion of any plot's elements before seeing a movie are strongly advised to take the necessary precautions for their safety and should avoid reading further.

This screening was plagued from the start by numerous technical problems: the show started ten minutes late, there was microphone problems for the presentation, not long after the beginning the movie lost its sound, then there was sound but no picture, repeatedly. After forty-five minutes of agony, the screening was definitely stopped. I had to finish watching this movie in the press screening room later. In the end, this movie was a great disappointment.

Kei is a female ninja sent to the Koga clan as double agent. She comes back with a list of traitors inside the Iga clan. After bringing the list she go to see Tao, her friend. A battle ensue and Tao is hit on the head, loosing his memory. Now, Kei is dead, and he is not sure who the enemy is anymore. Maybe he is one of the traitor? Or is he one of the heroes? He will have to slowly figure out what happened.

This is clearly a low budget movie (they use lots of natural set like cave, temple, forest) that makes a terrible ninja movie with lots of bad fighting stunt. The costumes of not historically accurate (lots of leather and the female ninja wears high heel boots!) and the blood looks horribly fake. And there’s this very annoying special effects that marks the beginning and end of all flashbacks. The end credits are nice, though.

The idea is interesting but the execution is rather clumsy. The movie repeats the same battle scene again and again, each time with a different point of view, in order to show Tao’s conflicting memories, his current understanding of the situation or the reversal of his hypothesis. Did I mention the annoying flashbacks? The final battle is quite ridiculous. It’s an entertaining movie, but nothing more.

It is a kind of movie that would have had more appeal with the Fantasia audience, which is younger and specifically seek this kind of not-so-serious action movie. I guess that adding this title to the programming was an attempt from the MWFF to reach out to this kind of audience—without much success.

Ninja Hunter (忍者狩り / Ninja Gari) : Japan, 2015, 96 min.; Dir./Scr./Ed.: Seiji Chiba; Phot.: Kenji Tanabe, Arsuchi Yoshida; Music: Kuniyuki Morohashi; Cast: Mitsuki Koga, Mei Kurogawa, Masanori Mimoto, Kentarô Shimazu, Kazuki Tsujimoto.

Film screened at the Montreal World Film Festival on August 28th, 2015 (Cinema Quartier Latin 12, 16h00 – the theatre was a little more than a quarter full) as part of the “Focus on World Cinema” segment. The screening was interrupted due to technical problems.

For more information you can visit the following websites:

Ninja Hunter © 2015 Shochiku International.

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