Out of the frying pan, into the fire
Zack Davisson | Seattle, WA, USA | 11/13/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The ninjas of Iga have been all but destroyed under the assault of Oda Nobunaga, but that is not enough for the warlord. Determined to seek out any remaining ninja who escaped his assault on their stronghold, Nobunaga (Wakayama Tomisaburo from the Shogun Assassin series) begins a vicious campaign of torture and death to root them out from the shadows. His methods are brutal, and for ninja Ishikawa Goemon there is only one thing left...vengeance.
The second in the eight-film "Shinobi no Mono" series is every bit as excellent as the first. The story continues directly from the original Shinobi No Mono, with Nobunaga continuing his relentless pursuit of the remaining ninjas. Although Goemon managed to leave the last film with a bright future in front of him, it is not to be. Rather than seeking vengeance directly, he teams up with the Saiga clan in order to lure Nobunaga into a trap. From there, a political drama unfolds as Goemon plots with Hattori Hanzo (a personage most would know from Kill Bill) to weave a tangled web of deceit and double-cross, all with Nobunaga as the ultimate target.
This installment of Shinobi no Mono is particularly grim: a small baby being thrown into a fire place instantly springs to mind. Ichikawa Raizo (playing lead ninja Goemon) is a total tough guy, and he scowls his way through all the rough play. Along with all of the political potboiling, there is some fancy ninjary going on, with some scenes that have become classics of the genre. A female ninja, known as a kunoichi, assists Goemon in his revenge-scheme as well.
What I love so much about Shinobi no Mono is how the realism with which they tackle the storyline. Most of the characters are straight out of Japanese history, and it helps to have some background in the Nobunaga/Tokugawa/Hideyoshi struggle to get a full grasp of the film. The locations are beautiful and accurate as well. I have walked across the nightingale floors of Ni-jo castle in Kyoto, with no more success than Goemon!
This is a series you are going to want to follow all the way to the end. "Shinobi no Mono 2" ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger, and I can't wait to see part 3!
S. Klepper | Texas | 09/12/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"got this one and the first one ON SALE. the series is famous for starting the modern ninja craze in the movies. and is known for being a great interpretation of real ninjitsu. a good deal on sale, but at regular prices I'd wait. if 3 & 4 ever go on sale I'll get them.