Alien vs Ninja ＡＶＮ
Sci-fi action comedy
2010, colour, 16:9, 80 mins
Directed by Chiba Seiji (千葉誠治)
By Derek Elley
Fri, 13 August 2010, 15:58 PM (HKT)
Enjoyably trashy ninja nonsense that's smarter than its appears at first glance. Genre festivals, plus ancillary.
Japan, the "mediaeval" period. After blowing up Lord Oda's castle, three senior Iga ninjas - cocky Yamata (Mimoto Masanori), red-haired Jinnai (Kashiwabara Shuji) and blond gadget-maker Nezumi (Tsuchihira Donpei) - are attacked in the forest by some of Oda's men. Yamata wipes them out singlehandedly. Afterwards, he sees a mysterious fireball in the sky which lands nearby - as does another group of Iga ninjas that includes Rin (Hijii Mika). Next day, back at their village, the trio are ordered by The Master (Hiura Ben) to join Rin's group and search the forest. After meeting the scared Nishi (Ogoe Yuki), whose village has just been wiped out, the group is attacked by an alien monster and several are killed. The survivors set out to track down the alien and its colleagues.
On the one hand, Alien vs Ninja ＡＶＮ (2010) is a low-budget martial arts movie that glorifies in its own trashiness, with men in giant lizard suits fighting ninjas in leather-and-lycra uniforms. On the other hand, it's a cleverly assembled piece of hokum that finds the right balance between send-up and seriousness, with good effects and wire work and with plenty of well-staged, witty action by specialists at the digital end of Japanese exploitation cinema — SHIMOMURA Yuji 下村勇二 (Death Trance デス・トランス (2005)) and SONOMURA Kensuke 園村健介 (The Machine Girl 片腕マシンガール (2007)). Nikkatsu's initial offering (along with Mutant Girls Squad 戦闘少女 血の鉄仮面伝説 (2010), SONO Sion 園子温's Cold Fish 冷たい熱帯魚 (2010), and films from directors like MIIKE Takashi 三池崇史) on its Sushi Typhoon label masterminded by producer CHIBA Yoshinori 千葉善紀 knows just what it's doing and hits the mark more than it misses.
Writer-director CHIBA Seiji 千葉誠治, who's directed several period action movies as well as co-writing Shimomura's Death Trance, has assembled a good cast, with names like TSUCHIHIRA Donpei 土平ドンペイ (supplying Japanese pratty humour) and HIURA Ben 樋浦勉 (as the scarred Master) alongside HIJII Mika 肘井美佳 (from Isaac FLORENTINE's US-set Ninja (2009)) for some glamour and MIMOTO Masanori 三元雅芸 (Evil Ninja 忍邪 (2010)) for cocky heroics. The weakest part of the movie is the leaping lizards themselves, which aren't remotely scary; but with plenty of humour (one has a fetish for Hijii's plastic-encased breasts) and smart cutting, it hardly matters — and the final battle, with zombies, foetus implants and a heaven-soaring one-on-one has a memorable recklessness.
ContactSales: Nikkatsu (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Premiere: New York Asian Film Festival, 3 Jul 2010. Theatrical release: Japan, 23 Jul 2011.
Presented by Nikkatsu (JP). Produced by North CKY (JP), in association with Sushi Typhoon. Executive producer: Sugihara Akifumi. Producers: Chiba Yoshinori, Chiba Seiji.
Script: Chiba Seiji. Photography: Kudo Tetsuya, Uematsu Ryo. Editing: Chiba Seiji. Music: Morohashi Kuniyuki. Songs: The Reboot. Costume design: Ikeda Yuki. Sound: Ikeda Tomohisa, Kato Hirokazu. Action: Shimomura Yuji, Sonomura Kensuke. Visual effects: Kazuno Tsuyoshi. Modelling, ninja costumes, alien design: Umezawa Sochi.
Cast: Mimoto Masanori (Yamata), Kashiwabara Shuji (Jinnai), Tsuchihira Donpei (Nezumi), Hijii Mika (Rin), Ogoe Yuki (Nishi, the boy), Hiura Ben (The Master), Saito Kenji, Nishio Hidetaka, Shimazu Kentaro, Washizu Hideto, Sugihara Isamu, Kanazawa Taro, Inagaki Koji, Morikawa Hideaki, Doke Kazuki, Sasaki Kyosuke, Tomokura Yumiko, Mashita Shuya, Inoue Hajime, Ueda Koji, Itagaki Katsu.