Ninja films have always been a source of much enjoyment for movie goers and while the vast majority of them may be laughably bad, that is actually where the charm of the genre comes from. Hokey special effects, bad dubbing and mediocre story lines are just a few of the novelties that the genre possesses, although you’re sure to find some high quality films stuffed in there as well. In the tradition of the laughable and silly, however, First Look Pictures, paired with VideoAsia, are bringing to DVD in three disc set ten Ninja that start off black and white and eventually progress into some very, very cheesy color films.
The history of the deadly Ninja warriors is presented for the first time in this 10 volume series. From its origins in feudal Japan to the modern day rediscovery and beyond, this History of Ninja delivers action and more action. The ten films include Ninjitsu, Ninja Hunt, Purple Hood Ninja, Purple Hood Ninja 2, 17 Ninjas, Hero of Swallow, Ninja Power Force, Ninja Kids Phantom Force, Golden Ninja Invasion, and Cyber Ninja.
Before I go any further, I’m going to be completely and 100% honest: I have never seen any Ninja films. Aside from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which I’m pretty sure doesn’t count, I’ve never really be into the big bad dub/hokey film area of Ninja flicks. Nothing personal, I just never found the appeal of them and as such I never spent anymore than thirty or forty seconds watching one. So it was a bit of a shock to get ten of these films in one drop and I have to say…none of them really helped inspire me to seek out more of this genre.
Needless to say I’ve never heard of any of those ten films and judging by the results of IMDb, neither have they. Unless the English title conversion is simply different, I wasn’t even able to find information on several of these (in a similar twist, I can’t find any information on this DVD release either). In any case, the films here are some of the absolute worst of the worst, going so far as to be so bad they aren’t even enjoyable. The set starts off surprisingly well with Ninjitsu, but from there it’s just downhill. Ninja Hunt is just tedious and the two Purple Hood Ninja’s are just as bad. In fact, there’s little to enjoy on this set at all, and the only really semi-enjoyable part is Cyber Ninja at the very end, which is ridiculous and flat out stupid, but at least it tried to be a rip off of Star Wars.
The black and white films weren’t as bad of culprits as the later films in terms of special effects, especially since the newer ones attempted to employ wire work that doesn’t ever look right and Power Rangers type fights that…quite frankly, actually made me want to watch Power Rangers over this, so that’s shocking in of itself.
Overall even if you enjoy bad Ninja films, these ten films are Skippable. I get the general appeal of goofy dubbing, but these films transcend the realm of enjoyable and step into areas of flat out stupidity. A few are worth riffing and mocking as you watch them, but the majority aren’t even worth that.
Uhh…wow. I thought this was actually a bootleg when I first opened it. The cover is hokey, there’s a grammatical/punctuation error on the back of the cover and the set doesn’t even close correctly (the swinging two-disc tray on the interior gets stuck on the plastic prongs that hold the insert, which advertises other products from VideoAsia). On top of this the discs are double sided, single layer bits that really are kind of confusing. Are double sided discs actually cheaper than dual layers? Because they could’ve easily made this a two disc set (or hell, even a one disc, as I’m about to explain further).
In any case, the video transfers here are absolutely atrocious. They’re all non-anamorphic widescreen transfers, with transfer issues galore. It’s been a long while since I’ve seen digital artifacts on video transfers, but green blocks frequently pop up on screen during the transfers for almost all of these films. It’s a mess to look at and on top of that, all of the subtitles are hardcoded, so you can’t even switch them off. Some films have both English and Japanese subtitles at the same time, while others appear to be dubbed over in Japanese…for no reason I can even tell or explain.
Overall this is a shoddy release, no matter which way you cut it. Adding ten films in one set may sound like a good value for your money, but you’ll wish you got it all back if you pick this one up. Skip It.
Ninja Collection: Volume 1 10 Feature Film Set arrives on DVD on December 30th.