Wednesday, 9 February 2011


Film: Alien Vs Ninja **
Release date: 7th February 2011
Certificate: 15
Running time: 81 mins
Director: Seiji Chiba
Starring: Mika Hijii, Ben Hiura, Shûji Kashiwabara, Masanori Mimoto, Yûki Ogoe
Genre: Action/Comedy/Fantasy/Martial Arts/Sci-Fi
Studio: Revolver
Format: DVD & Blu-ray
Country: Japan
Reviewer: Adam Wing

Some storylines are complicated affairs, but when it comes to the work of Sushi Typhoon you’re pretty safe in thinking not so much. When a strange fireball crashes near their village, a mighty ninja clan goes to investigate and winds up in serious danger. Flanked by lightning-quick alien creatures, the ninjas struggle to find their enemies' weakness before they're all killed in gruesome fashion. That’s pretty much the entire plot of Seiji Chiba’s quirky Japanese offering; Alien vs. Predator gets a bloodthirsty makeover then – Japanese style.

You already know if this is your kind of movie, it is called Alien vs. Ninja after all. The Sushi Typhoon isn’t exactly known for its big budget affairs, but you’re safe to expect an inventive, bloodthirsty, camp and comical night in. The film opens with a well-choreographed fight sequence between two ninja clans, which was a pleasant surprise it has to be said. Then we meet the small cast of characters, and it’s fair to say that events take a turn for the worse.

The three leads are entertaining enough; it’s the token comic relief stooge that nauseates from start to finish. Actually, that’s a little bit harsh. His over familiar fat ninja routine does kind of grow on you as the movie progresses, and it’s not really a spoiler to point out that his death scene is the films stand out moment. Annoying comic relief rarely makes it through to the end credits anyway, so a fat comic relief guy doesn’t stand a chance.

Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, another fat comic relief guy turns up, and he’s even more annoying than the first. The twist being this time that he might in fact be gay. A fat gay comedy ninja – what will they think of next? Thankfully he doesn’t stick around for long, and all of a sudden director Seiji Chiba remembers why he called his movie Alien vs. Ninja, rather than Fat Comic Relief Guy vs. Camp Comic Relief Guy.

Then the thin plotline enters stage left – a huge fireball crashes near the ninja village and they set out to discover who or what could’ve caused it. From here on in Alien vs. Ninja turns into the kind of movie you were expecting all along, a cheap and cheerful night in for each and every film fan blessed with low expectations. That would include me then.

Some of the effects are perfectly adequate, and that’s the highest praise I can muster, but what about the alien itself I hear you cry? Well, I really don’t know what you were expecting, but I was definitely anticipating a man in a cheap rubber costume. No prizes for guessing that Alien vs. Ninja serves up the most inexpensive alien offspring ever to grace a TV screen, in fact he looks like he just swooped down from the set of an early Doctor Who episode. Having said that, his CGI enhancements were a pleasant surprise and the alien jelly babies (I don’t know what else to call them) offer a fresh spin on an all too familiar alien host. Is it wrong to suggest that they’re actually rather cute? That might be taking things a little too far.

Once the stage is set Alien vs. Ninja becomes an enjoyable ride, complete with maximum bloody carnage and the occasional sprinkling of humour. The sixty minutes that follow are littered with insane set pieces and bloody battles, as any suggestion of plot development is dropped in favour of fisticuffs and exploding heads. It’s clearly not art, but there’s a certain amount of fun to be had from a film as clearly signposted as this. It doesn’t compare favourably to the likes of The Machine Girl, few splatter-fests do, but it’s a lot less disappointing than the film on which it's based. I say based - I say it very loosely.

There’s enough mutilation and mayhem to keep you from reaching for the remote control, and even though it lacks the invention of some of its siblings, Alien vs. Ninja still makes it through with its dignity intact. Having said that, quite how much dignity a man in a cheap green rubber costume actually has remains to be seen?

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