Directed by Isaac Florentine
Written by David N. White
Cast: Scott Adkins, Vithaya Pansringarm, Kane Kosugi, Tim Man
It’s quite possible (maybe even likely) that you’ve never heard of Isaac Florentine. It’s even more likely that you’ve seen some of his work. I had never realized that this man was behind one of the most important things in my childhood, The Power Rangers. He directed numerous episodes from the original series as well as Power Rangers Zero, Power Rangers In Space and a swarm of other work in the series. Once I learned that, I was pretty sure Ninja Shadow Of A Tear was going to be a special experience. It was – in a big way. It was classic B movie ninja fare, and I wolfed it down.
Scott Adkins is Casey the leader of the Koga Ninja dojo (no this has nothing to do with The Kouga Ninja Scrolls). When his wife is murdered by, guess who . . . That’s right! Ninjas! Casey must put aside his life of peace and return to form as the killing machine he once was. It is such a rad killing machine. Adkins displays incredible physical talent and mastery of a litany of fighting techniques. Each and every action he takes is captured in long shots reminiscent of old, Chinese fight films like Enter The Dragon and Fists Of Fury. The movie will not let you forget the incredible training involved with its production.
Casey journeys first to Thailand and the jungles of Burma. In both countries, there are people just itching to fight this physically imposing man. In Thailand, he reunites with his former training buddy Nakabara. Nakabara tells Casey the story of Goro a drug dealer in Burma who left wounds from his trademark barbed wire whip on the lifeless throat of Casey’s wife. Casey launches into his vengeance quest with aplomb. Journeying into the jungle Casey stumbles upon a buried cache of weapons and singlehandedly raids Goro’s base. What ensues is awesome. Unadulterated awesome mainlined to the bloodstream.
Isaac Florentine is Walter White. He had everyone in the theater addicted. After the screening Florentine mentioned that in most American action films, it’s hard to tell where anything is or who is fighting whom during the action sequences. Credit to Florentine for being 100% correct. We’ve all seen Michael Bay’s work, but he’s not the only one. Most modern action cinema is shot at top speed. There is a bigger emphasis on giving the appearance of action than actually producing a coherent sequence of events. Florentine’s film refuses to fall into that trap.
Every single fight has an extraordinary sense of geography. The collisions, the destroyed objects, even the victims, are established clearly in advance. This makes every fight immersive. It’s hard to say much about this movie that isn’t just heaping praise on the combat, but there’s a lot to say. Even the weakest of the antagonists, you know the ones that just get tossed around like beanie babies in a playpen, move with powerful body language. Everything about the violence is the movie is deliberate and perfectly executed. Even the use of weapons, an aspect that is often imbalanced in contemporary fight films, is impeccable. The film is coming to video on demand soon. While there’s not a lot of thematic or intellectual work going on in Ninja Shadow Of A Tear, it’s great for a late night watch. Even Florentine endorsed it as something in the realm of the midnight movie.