Kunoichi ninpo cho Yagyu Gaiden
English: Kunoichi, the Lady Ninja:
Hollywood is evidently not the only place where the Hong Kong style of action
is catching on. This Japanese period effort compliments its customary instances
of blood spurting swordplay with some wire-enhanced HK-style combat that contributes
further to an already unusual atmosphere. A group of Katoh clan killers called
The 7 Spears invade a convent, slaughtering most of the nuns. The seven survivors
pledge to get revenge and reclaim their heritage as kunoichi (female
ninjas). Led by Ochie (ZEIRAM I & 2's Yuko Moriyama; image),
the women are accompanied on the road of vengeance by legendary one-eyed samurai
Jubei Yagyu (Hitoshi Ozawa, who also co-wrote and directed).
This is the seventh instalment in a 1990s series of KUNOICHI pictures and
presumably got picked up for stateside release because of the striking Moriyama,
who has developed a cult following in the West via her work for Keita Amamiya.
Those unfamiliar with the series might find sections of this one hard to follow,
while novice viewers who can keep track might still be disoriented
by the coupling of a fairly serious genre plotline with outlandish, sexually
oriented side elements, like the "Nipple Shock Wave" and "Returning
Echo" (which is reminiscent of one of Keiko Mask's uniquely female talents).
Then, there are the flagrantly campy villains, notably, a male/female hybrid
obviously inspired by Brigitte Lin Ching-hsia's "Invincible Asia,"
and a Monkey King-like thug who can pop out his "Eyeballs from Hell"
and transform them into a pair of additional killers!
Thanks to all of the earthbound and aerial battles, colorful costumes, and
scantily clad ninja girls splashing across the screen, the film holds one's
attention more through anticipation of just what bizarre sight it will come
up with next; the machinations of the storyline eventually seem incidental.
The ambitions of director Ozawa (SCORE 2: THE BIG FIGHT) are partially thwarted
by the budget, resulting in some imperfect FX, but he does manage to generate
a fair amount of atmosphere along the way and the various battles are entertaining,
if not especially well staged.
Cover art courtesy Tokyo Shock.
|Tokyo Shock #TSDVD-0302 (U.S.
Dolby Digital 2.0
Sync Sound Japanese and Dubbed English Language Tracks
Optional English Subtitles
10 Chapters -- 5 Illustrated in the Menu With Grabs
Enhanced for 16:9 Displays
Coded for Region 1 Only
Contains brutal violence, nudity, mild sexual content,
and mild sexual violence
DVD menu courtesy
BOARD RATINGS AND CONSUMER ADVICE
The presentation is not perfect but
hues are vibrant (particularly the all-important reds) and the transfer contains
no flaws serious enough to cause a distraction. No 5.1 option is available
but the stereo mix is lively and forceful enough to do the movie justice.
However, this Japanese audio element was apparently prepared originally for
a HK release of the movie, as the opening and closing narration (over a series
of traditional paintings) is in Cantonese. (The disc defaults to a
monaural English dub that, needless to say, should be avoided at all costs.)
The original trailer is included, along with some ineptly videotaped but enjoyable
bits featuring the director and cast at a pair of screenings. Ozawa also provides
a jokey introduction to the disc and we even get to see him repeatedly flub
same in a series of outtakes. Thankfully, all of the supplements have optional
English subs. The 107 minute running time above includes a minute and a half
of translated credits added on to the end of the picture. Only the first five
of the ten chapters are illustrated in the menu; apparently, someone left
out the button that allows the user to advance to the next page.
KUNOICHI LADY NINJA is
available at Poker Industries.
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© John Charles 2000 - 2003. All Rights Reserved.