Director Isaac Florentine returns to the world of the Samurai with this sequel to the enjoyable martial arts thriller Ninja from 2009. Pro martial artist Scott Adkins returns to the lead role…
If you’re like me and love American martial arts movies set and filmed in East Asia then you’ll probably already know about Ninja: Shadow of a Tear, the sequel to Isaac Florentine’s 2009 thriller Ninja. In Ninja, American orphan Casey Bowman (Scott Adkins) grows up in Japan to master the art of bushido (the Samurai way of life). His skills, developed from childhood, lead him on a mission to protect a very special armoured chest known as the Yoroi Bitsu from a bitter rival. Travelling to New York City, Casey tries to hide the chest from an underground criminal group led by assassin Masazuka. What transpires are some seriously impressive fight sequences featuring professional martial artist Adkins and the kinetic choreography of Akihiro Noguchi. The film received a fairly mixed reaction in general but fans of the genre certainly got plenty out of it.
It was great to hear that a sequel was in the works last year and this was released in September 2013. The DVD and blu-ray came out this week in the UK. The excellent continuation of the story, which I’d argue is better than the original, follows on from the events of the first film with Casey settled and in love. His wife is pregnant and all seems well in the world. But one day he is assaulted by muggers who steal his wallet. He fends them off but in retaliation they visit his home and kill his wife. Seeking revenge he eventually tracks and kills the muggers but is drawn back to the East to get over his pain. There he discovers an old feud, linked to the attack on his wife, so he sets out to find the culprit and gain suitable revenge.
If Ninja had some great fight sequences then Ninja: Shadow of a Tear has the same x10! The film rarely stops for rest as Casey endures fight after fight after fight. And none feel copied from the previous action so there’s no chance of getting bored seeing the same thing every time. Undisputed III is generally considered director Florentine’s most impressive work but Ninja: Shadow of a Tear trumps it by getting rid of the baggage and doing what it does best! The greatest b-movies are straightforward and to the point – Florentine’s 2013 effort here is as simple as it gets: revenge. I don’t think Adkins has ever been better, certainly performance-wise, so while his work on Undisputed III’s fight sequences might look more pleasing to the eye, there’s more substance to his angry turn here. It’s terrific grounding for a vengeful adventure in which he gets to kick a hundred asses! When Hollywood action becomes a dull, derivative bore, look no further than films like this!
Ninja: Shadow of a Tear is out now in the UK on DVD/Blu-ray
***This post was sponsored by Lionsgate Films, but all thoughts are those of the author.