Sunday, March 2, 2014


NINJA 2: SHADOW OF A TEAR is an excellent example of how the direct-to-video market is the best place to see true action films.  I guess I could go on about how NINJA 2 contains more than enough perfectly filmed fight scenes to satisfy the most die hard action aficionado.  But I feel there is a lot more going on with this film and other works by one of the greatest action directors ever, Isaac Florentine.  What makes director Isaac Florentine so unique is his appreciation of all the elements that go into making a great action film.  NINJA 2 showcases all these elements in fine form.  What we get with this film is a solid story, a strong well acted protagonist, a dark and strange antagonist and uncompromisingly violent action scenes that deliver the goods.  All of these movie elements are of course put together and maintained by the director who knows how to use the camera to heighten every experience on screen for best dramatic effect whether it be a punch to the face or a emotion expressed by a character.

I think the most overlooked component of Florentine's films is the story.  We get too distracted by all the punching, kicking , flippi-dee-doo marital arts that we forget that we are invested emotionally into the characters of our story.  Two great examples of this our UNDISPUTED 1 & 2.  NINJA 2 is no exception.  Scott Adkins plays Casey a Ninjitsu master whose wife was murdered by another ninja named Goro.  The sequel to NINJA is a little more darker when it comes to the character of Casey.  We see that even though he is the master of the martial arts he does his best to avoid confrontation.  When he discovers his wife is murdered however, he has no problem killing anyone who may have had a hand in it.  That is different from the character he played in the first one where if he killed anyone it was because of the necessity of the situation.  The new Casey at one point kills a guy who he rendered defenseless in cold blood.  Being master-less of his emotions plays a big part of the story which is why NINJA 2's standard revenge formula stands out from almost all wannabe action films out there that complicate their plots in an attempt to make their movies seem smart.  NINJA 2's complexity is more subtle and can be easily overlooked but it is there.

All the fights scenes are great.  Scott Adkins is in top form demonstrating his athletic prowess as he kicks butt on his way to revenge.  Director Florentine shows all relying on the action in front of the camera rather than using shaky camera shenanigans and heavy editing.  There is a lot of martial arts and movie fighting on display.  One fight scene in particular our hero battles five guys in one long uninterrupted sequence.  Another thing I noticed with the fights and overall look of the film is the lack of computer generated graphics.  I don't recall a lot of C.G.I. blood and backgrounds that were more prevalent in the first NINJA.  There seems to be a more back to basics approach to the fight scenes and look to the film.  Everything appears real and on location.

If you are expecting Scott Adkins to run around in ninja pajamas the whole movie you will be sadly disappointed.  Mr. Adkins doesn't don the deadly sleepwear until he assaults the bad guys compound near the end of the film and even then it isn't long until his ninja face cover is removed so we can see his face.  I really didn't care either way but I am sure there are some ninja nerds out there that will cry foul.

This is a film that needs support.  We need more people in the industry to take notice of well made action films.  Big time studio action movies tend to be more concerned about big explosions, car chases and overly using their editing programs.  I hate fight scenes that cut to different angles with every thrown punch or kick.  It is too much of an eyesore.  Florentine gives us hope that there are directors out there that care about action cinema.  Every fight leaves an impact on the viewer.  I think most people who are into kung-fu movies would come out of this one with an eagerness to tell everyone they know to go see it.  It is definitely a film that evokes excitement from those who watch it.  Tell your friends about this one and be sure to buy it, rent it or watch it on THE NETFLIX while it is still available.  Together we can make a better tomorrow for action fans everywhere.