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Alien vs. Ninja (DVD Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000139659
Added by: David Beckett
Added on: 15/2/2011 18:14
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    Alien vs. Ninja

    6 / 10

    There have recently been a spate of films with 'vs' in the title and most of them have been particularly low quality so I wasn't quite sure whether this would be along the lines of Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, Aliens vs Predator: Requiem or even the Mega Shark sequel: Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus! Anyway, this is not an American film made by The Asylum production studio but a Japanese film that is basically a spoof on Aliens vs Predator that was written, directed, produced and edited by Seiji Chiba.

    It is very hard to establish when exactly the film is supposed to be set as the Ninja refer to guns as 'modern technology' but then some of them have clearly been using hair products as one has his hair dyed blonde and another has streaks and spends a lot of time ensuring it is styled properly! They all use your fairly standard Ninja weapons: swords, knives and shuriken although one of them, the cowardly, portly and bleach blonde Nezumi, has experimented with new weapons such as grenades and guns.

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    Whilst the gang of Ninja are out fighting their enemies in the woods, they see a huge fireball heading to Earth but they aren't sure whether it is the work of one of their enemies' sorcerers or a newfangled weapon. Returning to their village, they are asked to go and investigate by their chief and, heading off in the direction of where the fireball landed, they meet up with another group of Ninja (who swear allegiance to the same warlord) who had also been asked to go and investigate the strange event but came away empty-handed.

    There is something strange in the woods with phenomenal speed, agility and power as it can jump people above and below ground by making tunnels in order to drag people down and relieve them of their flesh! When the Ninja come face-to-face with this bizarre creature, they realise that it is not the work of a Ninja sorcerer that they must destroy it for the good of mankind. Not only that, but they have been joined by a peasant who is the only survivor of the attack on his village and wants to help them out because, for him, it is personal.

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    The majority of the film is action orientated but is played for laughs as the alien creature basically looks like Predator but with a dolphin's head, although with myriad holes in which tiny aliens reside. There are even some locational references to John McTiernan's 1987 action movie as some of it takes place among some ancient ruins, just as in the film where Arnold Schwarzenegger leads the attack. Plus, you have the lone survivor helping out the elite force just to underscore the citation. Some of the humour is of the extremely black variety, such as when a Ninja is rescued from being pulled underground only to be left with legs that have been stripped of their skin and muscles!

    Alien vs Ninja is far from the most accomplished piece of Japanese action cinema you will ever see but it is not without its charms and the main performances are very good. When it comes to the action sequences, there is plenty of wire work and athleticism from the performers and extremely suggestive fighting methods, with Rin, the only female Ninja, wearing skin tight leather trousers and a piece of protective body armour that may have been 'made-to-measure' and the fight sequence between her and the Alien is almost reason enough to watch the film!

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    When the film began, I was unsure of what to make of it as I didn't know whether it was an action film with some unintentionally humorous moments or a comedy with an action framework (there are a couple of weird scenes involving a trio of extremely camp gay Ninja that you will either get or you won't). As time went on, I became a bit more certain of myself and knew what I was watching so was able to settle into things and take it as it came rather than spending my time wondering what exactly I was watching. As a parody of the AVP films, and it works fairly well without being an on the money Airplane!, Naked Gun or Young Frankenstein spoof film. Alien vs Ninja merely takes the rather ludicrous concept in the AVP movies and relocates it to feudal Japan to see how Ninja would fare against the same foe with much more primitive weaponry.

    It isn't the sort of film that will have you laughing from first minute to last but it does have plenty of amusing moments and slapstick comedy, albeit a sub-Three Stooges style of humour. What you really want from a film like this are decent Ninja and well worked fight choreography and plenty of high kicking martial arts action which this delivers in spades.

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    The Disc

    The Picture
    By and large, the anamorphic picture looks very good with decent contrast levels, colours and detail but some of the CGI is far from impressive and is a little too obvious. When it comes to the Alien, it is quite obviously a man in a suit which is probably Seiji Chiba's intention as this gives the fight scenes a real tangible quality as you see the actors hanging on to the Alien, punching and kicking it whilst it fights back.

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    The Sound
    You have the choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 surround or 2.0 stereo and, for the most part, the film is front loaded and dialogue dominated with the characters arguing or taking the p*** out of each other and, for these parts, there is very little to choose between the two soundtracks. However, when it comes to the action sequences, the 5.1 is clearly the one to choose as the front and rear surrounds really come into play with some good directional sound and enough atmospherics and ambient sounds to make you aware of where people are when they aren't necessarily on-screen.

    In terms of the subtitles, they are well written and make the film easy to follow although I can't comment on how rigidly they stick to the Japanese dialogue.

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    Final Thoughts
    Alien vs Ninja isn't the greatest example of Asian comedy/action filmmaking but it is an extremely enjoyable movie with some outrageous action sequences and brilliantly choreographed martial arts action. I can't imagine this would be to everyone's tastes but, if you like films that mix action and comedy pretty well, then this is worth a rental as the vanilla disc counts against a purchase.

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