Do you like Ninja Movies? Who doesn’t. We all love Ninjas from the time we were young. It’s the action and the smoke and the ninja stars. So I wanted to hear from someone who is Knowledgeable in Ninja Films.I found that person and his name is Keith J. RainvilleWho is Keith J. Rainville? He runs a website based on every thing Ninja.So I had to ask him and Guess what? He gave me 10 films from 10 Different Categories that relates to Ninja’s.I got to say this is the most info and Knowledge dropped on films for Top 10 here on Soreelflix.com and I loved what Keith has Sent me.Please Read what his list below and what he had to say about each film. I enjoyed it and You will too.
Keith J. Rainville:
10 Essential Ninja Movies from Ten Different Categories:
Ninja movies have been made since the silent era, with the oft-hooded characters evolving from playful wizards to somber spies, black-clad commandos to colorful martial superheroes. It’s really too big a genre to pick a simple top ten, especially for an overly-fanatical (and often forgiving) collector like me.
So below are ten films you can watch in ten different ways, covering numerous eras, genres and countries of origin. Each of these categories could easily have a top ten of its own, but here’s the cream of the crop.
Top 10 –
Most Historically Significant (and Credible) . .1.Shinobi no Mono (Japan, 1962)
There were ninja movies in Japan before Shinobi no Mono. There were also spy movies before Dr. No. Both were franchise and movement launchers in their own right. Raizo Ichikawa (a James Dean like idol in Japan) plays an ace ninja wanting to get out of the shadow life, but politics, warfare, social castes and a shrewd master-of-disguise clan leader just won’t let him. Based on figures of both history and lore, with martial arts and espionage techniques gleaned from genuine ninjutsu authorities, this gritty B&W drama is the super-ego of the ninja genre.
Best 80s American Ninja-sploitation .2. Revenge of the Ninja (USA, 1983)
OK, so that last film helped launch the original 60s Japanese ninja craze, but you’re reading this article in English so chances are you’re more familiar with Sho Kosugi-fare. The Octagon and Enter the Ninja may have preceded it, but the 83 Canon Films masterpiece had the definitive 80’s ninja screen icon in the lead role. Two-thirds of Revenge’s running time is pure action, and an entire catalog of mail-order-able exotic weapons were unleashed regardless of combat logic. With a killer synth score and some brutal martial gore, Revenge is your time-capsule film of the 80’s American boom. And it coined the phrase “Only a Ninja can stop a Ninja!”
Best Kung-Fu Ninja Slaughter . .3. Five Element Ninja (Hong Kong, 1982)
In the ancient ‘martial world,’ survivors of an ambushed kung-fu school run a gauntlet of color-themed ninja whose weapons and tactics mirror the elements of Gold, Wood, Water, Earth and Fire to gain revenge and defend China’s honor from Japanese invaders. It’s a premise that ensures a TON of fights, and even by Shaw Bros. standards this is an action packed and brutally violent film. A bit of a spoiler – the ninja do not fare well in this bloodbath.
Best Art House / Criterion-level Ninja movie . .4. Samurai Spy (Japan, 1965)
Masahiro Shinoda’s moody, striking and sometimes surreal take on the folk legend Sarutobi Sasuke is the absolute artistic apex of the ninja genre. Another tale of the reluctant shadow warrior trying to find daylight, it is worth experiencing just for the chiaroscuro camera work and experimental slow motion techniques at play.
Best monster movie you never realized was a ninja movie all this time . .5. Magic Serpent (Japan, 1966)
Lost in the shuffle of Godzilla and Gamera films, this kaiju classic is actually about dueling ninja wizards summoning giant fire-breathing toads and snake-like dragons to do their fighting when sword and throwing star fail. Dubbed in English back in the day, Serpent was beloved by the creature feature set but surprisingly never repackaged in the 80s for the ninja film it was. here’s enough goofy ninja action to keep both camps satisfied.
Best HK Franken-Bastard 6. Ninja Terminator (Hong Kong, 1984)
The Tommy Tang’s, Godfrey Ho’s and Joseph Lai’s of 80s HK exploitation don’t even know themselves how many films they cranked (and I guess re-cranked) out with “Ninja” in the title, but think in the 200s. A previously released low-budget action flick was cut-together with newly filmed footage of brightly garbed ‘ninja’ kung-fu-fighting in public parks, with imported stars like Richard Harrison taking the marquee of the Frankensteined bastard hybrid. If you have to see one of what is the largest sub-category of ninja movies by volume, make it this one – it’s the source of the viral You-Tube clips of the dude on the Garfield phone arguing about the Golden Ninja Warrior. Yeah…
Best Ninja Anime .7. Ninja Scroll (Japan, 1993)
I’m a much bigger fan of old ninja cartoons like Kamui Gaiden, but even I take my hat off to this Akira/Ghost in the Shell level international hit. Scroll takes genre traditions and familiar characters and turns them on their head, infusing freakish super-powers and physics-defying martial arts for a stylized and energy-filled new take that at the time could only be done in animated form. There’s no Naruto without this ground-breaker doing it better, and first.
Best Bat-Sh*t-Crazy Psychotronic Ninja Experience .8. Ninja: The Final Duel (Hong Kong/Taiwan, 1986)
Seen the viral clips of ninja attacking Shaolin monks on giant spider-shaped rafts? Comes from right here, and the rest of the film (cut down from an already bizarre and incoherent TV series) is just as out there. Clawed kitty ninja, naked seductress ninja, Bugs Bunny ground-burrowing ninja, jive-talking monks from Harlem, bad fights, bad physics, worse dubbing = GREAT movie! Prepare to concuss yourself with head-slapping bafflement…
Best New Ninja Flick of the Modern Digital Superhero Age .9. Shinobi: Heart Under Blade (Japan, 2005)
The 2000s saw a wave of CG-fueled ninja movies from Japan (and a few from China), mostly gratuitous remakes of classics with digital animated trickery replacing any substance, but this hybrid of Romeo & Juliet and the X-Men has a reason for its CG excesses. Super-powered ninja from rival clans battle while their leaders are secretly in love. Modern effects actually enhance the martial arts here — knives are thrown in ways never seen, surreal characters right out of anime are brought to life, but nothing stands in the way of true love (and modern hair products).
Best vintage flick to take your ninja fandom to the next level .10. Castle of Owls (Japan, 1963)
This is, hands down, my favorite ninja movie of all time, as accomplished and credible as the Shinobi-no-mono films, but in color and with a story more easily digested by Western audiences. Ten years after their clan is slaughtered by the Shogun, two surviving ninja are finally ready to break their deep cover and exact revenge. However one of them has gone corrupt, coming to love the upper-crust samurai life he’s been falsely living, and tries to prevent the other more stalwart hero from fulfilling their life’s mission. Who’s the bird of prey and who’s the mouse? Seek this out, it’s great!
Thanks Keith for supplying us with Ninja Knowledge.
For more on Keith J. Rainville:
Keith J. Rainville is the publisher of VintageNinja.net, dedicated to all things ninja-related – from old movies to cheap toys and beyond. He also runs FromPartsUnknown.com and recently authored Zombi Mexicano, centered on overlooked Spanish-language zombie films of the 70s.
CEO/Webmaster of soreelflix.com. The Name Is James and I love Film ranging from Silent 20's to highly CGI Blockbusters of today. Westerns, Horror, world film, basically anything that peaks my interest I own it But Asian Films are what I Prize the most and Half of My collection Consists of Asian Films. Thanks to the Film 5 Deadly Venoms
I Hail From The US, Maryland Is where The Ninja Studies and views the Scrolls of Film That Shine on his 46" Screen. I own a sword, I can do a thousand upside down situps, and I randomly disappear in smoke when I'm not writing movie news and or reviews. View more posts