The Gratuitous B-Movie Column 2.3.14 Issue #292: Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear (2013)
Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz on 02.03.2014
A look at the 2013 ninja sequel Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear, two new batches of Things to Watch Out For, a new B-Movie Babe is named, a new Douchebag of the Week is crowned and more!
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #292: Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear (2013)
Ninja New Year!: Week 3
Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that thinks scrambled eggs are pretty cool, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number two hundred and ninety-two, Ninja New Year! concludes with a look at the 2013 low budget direct-to-video sequel Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear, directed by Isaac Florentine.
Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear (2013)
Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear, the sequel to the awesome Ninja (I reviewed that movie here) is both an excellent martial arts action flick and a substandard ninja movie, at least when compared to the first one. When the name of the movie is Ninja II and there isn't much actual ninja action in it you start to wonder if director Florentine and star Scott Adkins wanted to make a real ninja movie sequel at all. It's almost like the ninja stuff that is in the movie was thrown in just so the movie could be called Ninja II.
Ninja II picks up several years after the end of Ninja with Scott Adkins' Casey in charge of the legendary Koga ninja dojo. Casey is married to Namiko (Mika Hijii), and for the most part life is good. Casey is running the dojo, teaching people the art of ninjitsu, and he has a baby on the way (she isn't exactly showing but Namiko is pregnant). So, as you'd expect with that set up, Casey's life takes a major turn for the worse when, after "being mugged" by some street thugs (I say "being mugged" because, after willingly giving the thugs his wallet. Casey beats the crap out of them), Namiko is brutally murdered. After staging a funeral for his dearly beloved and catching up with old pal Nakabara (Kane Kosugi), Casey decides to go on a revenge quest and destroy the people responsible for Namiko's death. Casey eventually tracks down the muggers, and after dispatching them with extreme prejudice (as Joe Bob Briggs might say hands roll) he goes to train at Nakabara's dojo in Thailand. While at Nakabara's, Casey finds out that the muggers, who each had a weird tattoo on their neck, work for a vicious drug lord named Goro (Shun Sugata). His revenge quest not complete, Casey decides to go to Burma, Goro's main base of operations, and track him down.
So Casey goes to Burma alone (that's how it's done in these kinds of movies), beats the crap out of a bunch of people, beats up some cops, and then gets arrested. After being tortured for a few minutes (hot iron to the leg), Casey manages to escape the police station and head off into the woods. Goro's people (henchmen and cops alike) try to find Casey, but because he's a badass trained in the art of ninjitsu he evades further capture and goes deeper and deeper into the woods. The trip into the woods, though, is not just an ongoing escape plan. Deep within the woods are believed to be weapons caches left by highly trained Japanese ninja soldiers during World War II. If Casey can find one of these caches he can arm himself like a true ninja and then infiltrate Goro's headquarters and gain his full revenge.
Now, Ninja II works as a revenge movie and as a full on martial arts movie. Adkins is in top notch form in each fight, and each fight scene is essentially an escalation from the previous fight scene. I just would have preferred a little more ninja stuff throughout the movie. Why isn't Goro a ninja, or any of his henchmen ninjas? Why does it take well over an hour for Adkins to don a ninja outfit and engage in ninja awesomeness? It just seems like a big waste to call the movie Ninja II and only feature about five minutes of ninja action. And when you look back at how much ninja action we got in the first Ninja movie, Ninja II isn't even a ninja movie. It's a martial arts movie with some ninja stuff in it. I know it sounds like I'm repeating myself with that but I can't help myself. Why isn't there more "ninja" in Ninja II? It just doesn't make any sense.
As I said, Adkins is great as Casey. He's a force of nature in the action and fight scenes, and he's a decent enough actor in the movie's quiet dramatic moments. You feel his pain when Namiko dies and you root for him when he decides to seek revenge. Hijii does a good job as Namiko. She isn't in the movie all that long, but she makes an impression anyway (she doesn't get any cool fight scenes like in the first movie, though. Now that I think of it, why wouldn't she, a ninja master herself, kick a little ass before she's killed? That grandmother character in Revenge of the Ninja got to kick some ass before she was killed).
Shun Sugata is insanely awesome as the villain Goro. He's evil, a giant piece of crap, and much like Adkins a force of nature. Watching him wield that barbed wire blade weapon is a thing to behold. And I think you'll dig the way he's destroyed at the end of the movie (he doesn't go out like a punk). And be on the lookout for Mukesh Bhatt as the goofy tax driver Mike. He's the closest thing the movie has to comic relief and the man is hilarious (well, I think he's hilarious).
And then there's Kane Kosugi as Nakabara. He is a brilliant martial artist, but he doesn't have much of a screen presence here (he's clearly not his father Sho, who just oozed charisma on screen). But then he isn't given much screen time to begin with. He really doesn't become a "major" character until the end. Perhaps director Florentine should have figured out a way to make him more of a character throughout the movie. Heck, why not have him act as Casey's karate wing man while going into Burma? And why the heck isn't Kosugi in a ninja outfit at some point? With that name shouldn't that be an expectation? I think so.
I'm going to assume that the movie's subtitle, Shadow of a Tear, has something to do with the necklace Casey buys Namiko, but I'm not too sure about that. I probably would have just called it Ninja II and left it at that. Simplicity is a virtue.
Yes, it sounds like I'm complaining quite a bit here, but, in the end, Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear is worth checking out. It's a great low budget martial arts revenge movie. The action and fight scenes are awe inspiring. I just wish there was more "ninja" in it. I mean, it's called Ninja II for the love of God. Am I missing something here?
I'm down for a third movie if Adkins and Florentine want to make one. Just more ninja next time. Please. And don't take three years to figure it out. Two years is long enough between adventures.
See Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear. It's a bit disappointing, sure, but it's still awesome. See it, see it, see it.
So what do we have here?
Dead bodies: 20+
Explosions: At least two.
Doobage: Ninja newsreel footage, sparing, necklace buying, attempted mugging, a ninja sixth sense, serious ass kicking, a mysterious symbol, chop sticks, attempted off screen floor sex, a sad montage, an off screen throat slitting, a dojo funeral, training, a drug lab in Burma, a nifty strangulation weapon, more serious ass kicking, arm breaking, a trip wire, hand removal, knife to the gut, knife to the back, a second ninja dojo, more sparring, wood sword attack, multiple flashbacks, a bar beat down, table smashing, a whirlwind spin kick, fruit picking, tea drinking, backyard karate exercises, an old map, a goofy taxi driver, a street shopping montage, fish buying, weapon making, multiple sharpened sticks, attempted drug smoking from a light bulb bong, an amazing drop kick, a rooster clucking in a cage, a torture doctor, a hot iron to the leg, cock fighting, scissors through the chest, a boat ride, neck breaking, knife throwing, neck slicing, homemade ninja dust, grenade attack, a hidden ninja weapons cache, sword creation, snake decapitation, chess, poison dart to the neck, ninja grenade attack, exploding building, kama attack, knife to the leg, more neck breaking, a wicked henchman fight, decapitation, a final fight, a double-sided ninja sword, ninja short sword to the shoulder, more strangulation, a package, and an open ended ending.
Kim Richards?: None.
Gratuitous: Ninja newsreel footage, Japan, Scott Adkins, attempted mugging, multiple beat downs, attempted off screen floor sex, Burma, people barefoot, Thailand, wood sword attack, a nasty bar brawl, backyard karate exercises, a goofy taxi driver, a street shopping montage, multiple flashbacks, snake decapitation, ninja grenade attacks, and room full of antiquities that are destroyed.
Best lines: "Hey, gaijin! What are you doing?," "Are you ready to die? Neither was she," "You're going to Burma? It's suicide!," "Casey, remember, the man who seeks revenge should dig two graves. We're gonna need a lot more than that," "Okay. Any time you want to pay me I will take it," "Enjoy Hollywood Rangoon Hotel five star boss!," "Hi, foreigner!," "This is Goro's territory, isn't it?," "Maybe you talk to me? I am here as a tourist," "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," "Summer grasses, all that remains of a warrior's dream," and "You turned me into an assassin!"
Starting next week: Debuary: A Month of Debbie Rochon!
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: The Facebook Page!
Please check out The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Facebook page, which can be seen here. There's not much there at the moment, but, as time goes by, expect to see daily questions and musings and other B-movie hooey (this really is going to happen at some point). And it would be cool if you "liked" it, too.
And please check out my interview with director Brett A. Hart about the Ain't It Cool internet show and more!
Gordon Hessler 1924-2014 RIP
Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 1
This Sylvester Stallone-Ahnold Schwarzenegger team up tanked at the North American box office, but I believe it did make some money overseas, whatever the heck that means (I think I read that on yahoo). I thought it was great (read my review of it here). Please, check this out as soon as you can. You won't regret it.
- Banshee Chapter: I'm not sure if this movie is meant to be a "found footage" style horror flick or if it's just "shot" that way (the review on imdb.com seems to suggest that it's just shot that way, but you never really know until you actually see it). The great Ted Levine is in it, so right there it's worth checking out as a rental. And the trailer is creepy, so there's that, too.
- Code Red: Yet another low budget zombie flick with a cool trailer and a very cool looking DVD case. Hopefully the movie turns out halfway decent, or at least watchable. You just never know with a low budget zombie movie.
- F6 Twister: Caspar Van Dien, Richard Burgi, and Steven Williams star in this low budget disaster movie that at one point was apparently known as Christmas Twister. I think that title is much better than the overly generic F6 Twister. Or how about Snow Twister?
- Scorned: Well, this looks pretty messed up. I mean, Billy Zane isn't the bad guy/psycho, he's the one being pursued by the psycho? And how often do we get to see a full on psycho woman? Hopefully this isn't as awful as American Psycho 2. That sucked.
- Kenny Rogers: The Gambler Collection: All three The Gambler TV movies in one set? Why the hell wouldn't I want to get it? I wish the TV networks did movies like these again.
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Theme of the Week
Philip Seymour Hoffman 1967-2014 RIP
And now, one final moment of Sho Kosugi
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Babe of the Week: Mika Hijii
Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 2
- Rush: This Ron Howard directed movie about a 1970's Formula 1 driver rivalry was nominated for a few awards, but for some reason wasn't nominated for any major Oscars. I haven't seen it yet, but it doesn't look terrible, so that's always a plus.
- Metallica: Through the Never: This sort of concert movie got okay reviews. Everyone seemed to love the music but the rest of it was just, well, weird. How weird? I can't wait to find out.
- Argento's Dracula: Dario Argento's latest movie, his take on Dracula, hasn't been well received, but then none of Argento's recent movies have been well received. I still want to see it, just to see if it's as bad as everyone says it is. And I'm always in the mood for a Rutger Hauer movie. Rutger Hauer is awesome.
- Stonados: This low budget Sci Fi Channel disaster flick looks weird (exploding rocks that shoot out of tornadoes? Is that what's happening here?). The great William B. Davis, the Cigarette Smoking Man hisself, is in it, so that's cool. Did anyone see this when it first aired on Sci Fi? Is it as ridiculous as it seems?
Luis Avolos 1946-2014 RIP
Special Commentary: The 2014 The Gratuitous B-Movie Column "Year Long Plan"
As some of you may have noticed the last two months of this column have featured "themed" reviews, with movies starring David Bradley throughout December and ninja movies taking up most of the issues for January. I have decided to continue that scheme for the entire year, with each month featuring something that essentially ties all of the movie reviews for that month together. The plan I've come up with should provide for a nice variety of movies. Here is the schedule at the moment (things could change if I come up with something more interesting to do):
January: Ninja New Year!: You've just read the final review of this particular theme: ninja movies. It'll probably come back for January 2015 as there are plenty of ninja movies out there just begging to be watched and reviewed.
February: Debbie Rochon movies- Debuary!: Scream queen Debbie Rochon will be the focus of February with either three or four reviews (I may do a double feature one week, if everything works out the way I want it to).
March: Monster March: March will be devoted to monster movies. Expect to see all sorts of low budget monster hooey here (I'm finally going to review Sharknado).
April: April Action!: The column will focus on action flicks in April. I'll probably do at least one martial arts movie review here (I don't think I do enough of those). The video store has plenty of cool stuff to choose from.
May: MAYhem: The month of May will focus on the low budget natural disaster movie, another B-movie genre I don't see enough of. Someone is watching them, though, as the Sci Fi Channel and the Canadian government wouldn't keep making them if no one was interested.
June: Zombies: I don't have a cutesy name yet for the month of June, but I know that I want to watch zombie movies that month. It just seems like the right time to do so.
July: The 3rd Annual July: A Month of Chuck Norris : The great Chuck Norris will be back as the focus of July with another five reviews. Firewalker could very well end up as one of them. Goody Guys Wear Black, too. Regardless, you know it will be awesome. It's Chuck Norris, man.
August: August Awesome!: The plan for August is to go "old school" and do double feature reviews for each issue. Perhaps one action movie and one horror movie each week?
September: Steven Seagal: The great Steven Seagal, who will hopefully not be running for governor of Arizona anytime soon, will be the main attraction for September. I'm going to focus on his direct-to-video stuff, as I still haven't seen all of it yet.
October: The 7th Annual The Gratuitous B-Movie Column October Slasher Movie Celebration: Slasher movies rock. They just do.
November: TBD: November is the only month I'm unsure of at the moment. I'm thinking about either doing another action movie month (think "November Nitro" or something like that) or doing a month of documentaries. What would you guys rather see? Let me know.
December: It's a Dolph Lundgren December: Similar to this past December's David Bradley celebration this coming December's focus will be on the movies of Dolph Lundgren. There will likely be a one week break for Christmas here where I'll review a Christmas themed horror movie. Unless I can't find one worth checking out. If that happens I'll find one more Dolph movie to watch.
So that's the schedule. Again, it could change if I come up with something else worth doing. I do like the general balance of the movie subjects, though. I'd love to get back into the habit of doing two movies a week, make the August plan the plan for the whole year, but at the moment that just doesn't seem feasible (there just aren't enough hours in the day).
What do you guys think? Is this plan worth doing? Am I missing something? Please, let me know.
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week
This week, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week goes to mega rich venture capitalist Tom Perkins, for whining about how rich people are allegedly under siege in America. I'd like to know how the people who own everything, who run everything, and who just about make all of the decisions are "under siege?" By who? The progressive political movement? What the hell is that? Is The Nation Magazine going to come after him, publish an editorial that he should be thrown in prison and beaten or something?
Ludicrous. And the Nazi comparison (go ahead and look it up, it's all over the place) is just fucking stupid. The progressive political movement, which may have slightly more clout in government at the moment than usual, isn't going to do anything to you or any other rich person outside of maybe raising taxes (and that's a big goddamn maybe). You will still be rich and powerful and influential when you wake up in the morning.
Please, Tom, get a fucking clue.
And then there's Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, for starting up the "Bill Clinton had sex" stuff in preparation of his and, presumably, Hillary Clinton's presidential run in 2016. I knew it was eventually going to happen, but I didn't think Senator Paul would be the one to start it. I figured Fox News would be the first right wing entity to start up the long dormant "Clinton criminal operation" smear machine and then guys like Paul and Chris Christie and others would follow with "support." I guess that Senator Paul thinks this is the best way to show that he's serious about running for President in 2016. I think, in the long run, it just makes it that much harder for him to gain traction early on in the process. Even if he wants to frame it as a commentary on "Bill Clinton engaging in sexual harassment and Hillary not dumping him for it," it still makes him look like a lunatic. And does Senator Paul really need that, especially since he's going to be seen as the "end the drug war" guy?
Rand Paul is never going to be President. I think it's high time someone besides me and Lawrence O'Donnell told him that.
And finally there's Congressperson Michael G. Grimm, Republican of Staten Island, for threatening to throw a reporter off a balcony. Congressperson Grimm, who is under a massive ethical cloud (he's being investigated for fundraising irregularities), didn't like being questioned about those ethical issues after the State of the Union address last Tuesday night, and instead of just saying he wasn't going to answer any questions outside of the State of the Union and leaving it at that he threatened to throw NY1's Michael Scotto "off the fucking balcony."
Yes, because it always works out for you when you threaten to beat up a member of the press. Always.
Even if you chalk it up to a "in the heat of the moment" kind of thing, why did the Congressperson think it was a good idea to threaten anyone? Why?
What a douchebag.
NASCAR and Indycar thoughts
NASCAR made some big moves this past week in terms of its on track product. The sanctioning body made changes to both its qualifying format, essentially eliminating single car qualifications and moving towards a group qualifying scheme, and then made changes to how the Chase for the Championship works in Sprint Cup. The group qualifying format, which is used in Indycar and Formula One, has been tested in the past for the road course races but it's never been tried for oval events. I personally would have rather seen NASCAR institute the qualifying process used for the Daytona 500 for its top three series (two heat races that set the field), but I'm willing to give this group thing a shot, just to see how it works out.
Now, the new format for the Chase is a different deal. After 26 races, 16 teams (race winners and if there aren't 16 different race winners the remainder of the Chase field will be filled in by teams with the most points) will start the Chase, and then every three races four teams will be "eliminated" from the Chase, and in the final race at Homestead the four remaining teams will race for the title with the highest finisher among the four the champion. The new format is meant to emphasize race winning and force teams to go for wins, which is cool and all, but why make Homestead the most important track, outside of Daytona, in the series?
And what happens to the other nine races in the Chase? Are those races going to offer more money or something for Chase drivers, just to make it a little more interesting? Much like the new qualifying format I'm willing to give this new Chase scheme a shot, but I think it would have been easier for everyone (fans and teams) to alter the way the points are calculated for the Chase teams. Since they are essentially racing against one another for the title, make it all about staying ahead of the other Chase teams. The highest finishing Chase driver gets the most points, the second highest gets the second most points, etc. I think that's an easier concept to understand than the "playoff" format that's just been announced. But, again, I'm willing to give the new scheme a chance, just to see how it works.
Over in Indycar, the big news is the budding interest in Formula E, the new all electric powered car open wheel series that's set to debut in the fall. Several Indycar drivers are set to compete in the series, and Andretti Autosport is going to field an actual team with, I assume, Marco Andretti driving. Plenty of people in open wheel racing seem to think that this is the future of open wheel racing in general, but I have a feeling that it isn't going to amount to the "next big thing" in anything. It has to generate a fan base first and it has to have good racing to keep that fan base interested. I don't think the sports car model (major factory support trumps everything else) is going to work unless Formula E plans on usurping sports car racing in terms of racing technology innovation, and that seems like a ludicrous proposition (are the major manufacturers really going to alter their existing infrastructure for this series? Not a chance). It's all about the racing, and if that stinks, everything else about the series is going to fall apart. Hopefully someone within Formula E understands that. The world doesn't need another failed open wheel racing series.
I didn't get a chance to see any of the 24 Hours of Daytona, although I did see the big crash involving Memo Gidley and Matteo Malucelli on youtube. Thankfully they both made it out of the crash alive. It'll be interesting to see if this crash leads to any safety or car design changes in IMSA, the new sports car sanctioning body.
Well, I think that'll be about it for this issue. B-movies rule, always remember that.
If there's anything you want to see reviewed here in this column, feel free to offer a comment below or send me an e-mail. I'm always on the lookout for new stuff to watch.
And don't forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.
Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear
Scott Adkins- Casey Kane Kosugi- Nakabara Mika Hijii- Namiko Shun Sugata- Goro Vithaya Pansringarm- General Sung Mukesh Bhatt- Mike
Directed by Isaac Florentine Screenplay by David White, based on characters created by Michael Hurst and Boaz Davidson
Distributed by Millennium Entertainment
Rated R for violence and brief drug use Runtime- 95 minutes