Friday, June 18, 2010

REVIEW: Lady Ninja Kaede


Lady Ninja Kaede

Released: 2007

Director:
Hiroyuki Kawasaki

Starring:
Mai Nadasaka
Yume Imano

Miyoko Sakura
Masato Takaoka
Masamitsu Tonai

Running time: 76 min.


Reviewed by Matthew Hardstaff


Wow. If I was to give a one word review of "Lady Ninja Kaede", it would be a dry and sarcastic ‘Wow’. Going into this film, I was fairly excited. Why? Well for one, I have a soft spot for ninjas. It also looked like goofy fun. And because it features AV stars, there was a chance you’d see some boobs (and you do). However, this was not the fun boob ninja movie I had hoped for. I’m not sure what director Hiroyuki Kawasaki had done before this, but it must have involved learning the ancient art of cinematic dim mak, giving him the ability to drain all life from potentially great ideas.

Kaede seeks revenge when her older sister is raped and then shamed into her hanging herself. With the help of her widowed brother in-law, she discovers that two men are responsible: a wandering ronin and his sex crazed side kick. However things aren’t as simple as they appear, and with the help of a lady ninja nun and her carpet haired male counterpart, a web of deceit and a twisted sexual underbelly is revealed!!

Before we begin: I can deal with low budget films shot on video. What I can’t deal with is poorly shot low budget films shot on video, because man, those flaws really stand out. Someone really had trouble balancing the contrast between light and dark in some frames, and it looks pretty blown out, to the point where it pierces your skull. This is painfully obvious low budget film making. Most of the time, they are able to use it to their advantage. Other times, not so much. And it hurts. Physically.

This film is a film built on promises. There are an awful lot of running gags in the film that are made to keep our wandering attention, and hint at the promise of ninjas. What should have been the best thing about the film but ends up being completely underwhelming is what I will call the ‘Kaede ninja intermissions’: quick, 30 second flashes of pink glammer, as Kaede names some zany ninja move, and then performs it for us. This could be amazing, if it wasn’t for the fact that the AV star playing Kaede is a vapid emotional shell. She exudes zero charisma. Not only does she exude zero charisma, you get the feeling like she isn’t even trying, that she really doesn’t care. These moves are far more entertaining when the older, and obviously more experienced actress playing the ninja nun performs some magical ninja sex powers on people. Yes, the FX are really, really bad, but at least she makes it look fun. There’s also far too little ninja action. The sexual ninja powers are pretty funny, but it’s not enough. There were times I got the feeling I was watching a bad live action version of "Ninja Scroll". Most of the sexual escapes are obviously rapes and magical ninja doings. However this film lacks the ninjas, insane action and demons to be a bad live action Ninja Scroll. On a side note, there is some action, but it’s for the most part poorly done.

You’ve also got a completely unrelated side story with a raconteur who seems to be creating the world’s first newspapers, all hand written. However when no one seems to pay him, he resorts to what can only be described as the unprecedented quintuple take. It’s funny and amusing, but the lead up to it really isn’t.

And that unfortunately is how this film plays out: a series of mildly amusing climaxes (no pun intended) that have drab and lifeless build-ups. Some is mildly amusing, but most is the opposite. Which is really sad, because that’s just plain lazy film making, and Hiroyuki Kawasaki owes it to ninja fans everywhere to not ruin such solid material. It’s not bad because its low budget, it’s bad because it seems like most of the people involved really didn’t care. They knew people like me would be drawn to a film with ninja’s, some zany gags, and the promise of boobs, and then feed them an uninspired ruse. Which I fell for. I learned my lesson.

Read more by Matthew Hardstaff at his blog.

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