Director: Seiji Chiba
Writer: Seiji Chiba
Producer: Seiji Chiba, Yoshinori Chiba
Cast: Shuji Kashiwabara, Ben Hiura, Mika Hijii, Donpei Tsuchihira, Masanori Mimoto, Yuki Ogoe
Running Time: 83 min.
“Alien vs. Ninja” arrived on Western shelves just in time to capitalize on the DVD/blu-ray release of 2010’s “Predators.” And glancing at the title and box art, you’d think this movie was a cheap knock-off of the “Aliens vs. Predator” franchise. I know that was my first impression. Turns out that’s all the result of Funimation’s marketing department. Once you watch “AvsP” and the “aliens” show up about twenty minutes in, looking like slimy dolphin-men in latex suits (kind of like rejected Power Rangers villain), you’ll realize the truth: “Alien vs. Ninja” is more of an off-the-wall Japanese splatter comedy, in the vein of “Versus” or “Meatball Machine.”
Despite being low-budget to the extreme, “AvP” entertains for its short duration with a bevy of genuinely cool sword fights, bad-ass characters, and buckets of gore. The set-up is about as simple as you can get: on the way back from a mission, a ninja clan sees a meteor fall out of the sky. Upon investigating the crash site, they’re attacked by some deadly aliens who make mincemeat out of all the cannon fodder characters. The rest of the flick is basically a ton of fight scenes in the forest.
Thankfully “AvP” manages to avoid the creepy fetishization of movies like “The Machine Girl” and “Tokyo Gore Police,” though there is a bit of sexual humor. And the fact that every appendage these aliens seem to have is phallic in nature (oh, those crazy Japanese). A few scenes are squirm-worthy or give way to just plain stupid humor, but there’s not much here that you’ll feel like a creeper for watching.
The cast holds a few familiar faces, mostly Mika Hijii who starred alongside Scott Adkins in the English language film “Ninja.” But Actor Masanori Mimoto has to be the breakout star here: for fans of the video game series “Ninja Gaiden,” Mimoto is the closest I’ve seen anyone come to replicating the look and moves of that character. It also helps that the aliens look an awful lot like some of the monsters you fight in those games. Mimoto must have found his niche; glancing at his filmography on IDMB, three out of the four movies he’s starred in have the word “ninja” in their title. Hey, what can you do, the man knows how to wield a sword.
This isn’t the best Japanese film out there – for one thing, the aliens’ power levels vary drastically from scene to scene based on what the script calls for. But it’s not trying to be great; it’s a tongue-in-cheek exploitation flick. The filmmakers send the message: “We had a fun time making this movie so we hope you have a good time watching it. And try not to take it too seriously.” I went into this with extremely low expectations and ended up having a lot of fun. I know I feel like a better person now that I’ve seen a ninja suplex a man-in-a-rubber-suit – I mean, an alien.
In a way, this is a bit like an “Aliens vs. Predator” movie, if only they had taken way more inspiration from the “Evil Dead” series rather than their own respective franchises. And if they added ninjas to the equation. Because ninjas make everything better, right? This movie practically proves it.
HKFanatic’s Rating: 6/10