NINJA does share a lot of similarities with NINJA ASSASSIN—abandoned children training at secret ninja lairs, demanding white-haired senseis, a jealous villain in the dojo, a cute girl at the center of it all, and the main character going on the run for the whole movie. What it does differently is seek a bare bones approach that better suits the genre. Instead of fancy CGI gore and weapons, quick and flashy editing that masks the action, and silly special effects ninjas that disappear in the shadows, NINJA simply offers real fighters on real sets doing everything you see in longer, easily digestible takes. Quite a unique strategy, huh?
If you’re not familiar with Scott Adkins by name, you’ve probably seen him kick ass in movies like BOURNE ULTIMATUM or XMEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE (where he played post-Ryan Reynolds Deadpool). The man is a great fighter and stuntman and he puts all his skills to use in NINJA. There are some truly badass and brutal fights here that will please action fans. (My favorite being when the ninja just walks in to a temple of secret assassins and wrecks them all.) And though it’s on a DTV scale, it’s still easy to appreciate the choreography and serious attitude the film takes. They don’t hold back on the gore either and thankfully it’s not as silly as the CG blood spurts in NINJA ASSASSIN.
The movie has the expected downsides that you’d expect with a low budget film of its caliber, full of overdramatic bits, cheesy lines, stilted acting and bizarre choices. (The bad “ninja” uses night vision, high tech weapons and guns, and at one point even jumps off a building and sprouts Batman like wings to help him fly away.) The plot is also predictable; from the opening introductory monologue you know that every point mentioned will be brought up again later. But you know what you’re getting in to with this movie and I think action fans will dig it for what it is.
Extra Tidbit: Adkins and director Isaac Florentine have also worked together on the prison boxing movies UNDISPUTED II and III.