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Overall Rating
4.5

Awesome83.33%
Worth A Look: 5.56%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 11.11%

1 review, 12 user ratings


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Ninja Scroll
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by Robert Collins

"Unadulterated (and Adult-Rated) Action"
5 stars

In any other medium, "Ninja Scroll" would be impossible to create; its fight scenes and elaborate character designs deemed far too complicated and fantastic to manufacture elsewhere. But, luckily, "Ninja Scroll" did take root, blending archetypal character figures, elegantly rendered episodes of battle, and astounding artwork into what may possibly be the most definitively potent action film of the entire last decade, and, just maybe, even longer than that.

Though Ninja Scroll is definitely a movie of the anime genre, with the trademark artistic violence and sexuality, it appears to have benefited from some more Western influences of animation. The characters, with hardened jawlines and sharper facial features, look as though they have a more realistic form, as opposed to the usual Impressionistic depictions of characters. This resulting realism is what takes Ninja Scroll far beyond normal anime, making the film even more breathtaking and disturbing. The scenes of violence (of which probably the most grotesque is a number of amputations) and sexuality while extreme and graphic, are done tactfully and aware of a very profound form of artistry.

The anime medium also allows a certain suspension of belief to be held, yet Ninja Scroll is one example that doesn't take advantage of that trump card, maintaining its solemn nature. Its story is an epic, and one that doesn't flaunt its prowess at creating a plot with classic mythical qualities, maintaining its realistic ambiance while unfolding in a fantastic manner. Yet, it has all of the features of a triumphant hero legend: the unwavering protagonist, his mentor, a love interest, and insurmountable odds placed against his favor. In this way, it is reminiscent of Star Wars, which, in turn, undoubtedly borrowed from eastern film-making and mythology.

Jubei is a mercenary-for-hire. While he does offer his services to the highest bidder, his desire to uphold justice and honor is much greater than his yearnings for money. Traveling through the countryside as he works for the local Shogunate government, Jubei comes across an entire village poisoned and an esteemed force of ninja warriors brutally massacred within the confinements of the woods. By rescuing the lone survivor of the vicious assault from the grasps of an unsavory character, Jubei becomes embroiled within a mysterious and malevolent plot headed by a malicious organization. Fortunately, he is assisted by the woman he rescued, named Kagero, and Dakuan, a strange old manipulator who seeks to utilize Jubei's skills to rid the country of the evil conspiracy.

Jubei must then proceed to confront the (amazingly cool) eight devils of Kimon, each boasting an extraordinary power, not to mention incredible imaginative genius behind their respective invention. Among them are Tessai, the demon carved of stone; Benisata, controller of snakes and venom; Mushizo, master of hordes of hornets that dwell within his own skin; Utsutsu, a blind swordsman who relies on his acute hearing to fight; Shijima, a stealthy assassin who lurks in a constant shadow; Zakuru, wielder of powerful explosives; Yunimon, who can exploit electricity to his bidding; and Gemma, who has extraordinary abilities of regeneration, and is personally the mortal enemy of Jubei.

The fight scenes are often elaborate and phenomenal, taking place within vivid settings. These include an encounter inside a decomposing temple, a trap within a swampy grove, and an excellent chase that transpires through both land and water. The most astonishing conflict, however, without contest, is a wonderfully adept duel inside a thicket of bamboo, even if it is cut disappointingly abrupt. With each subsequent confrontation, the story strengthens and develops, and the relationships between the characters, not to mention the characters themselves, become more clearly defined. While not offering the character development of a superb character-based drama, it does exceed that of the typical action film by far. Jubei is a far different man at the end than he was at the opening sequence.

Ninja Scroll is an enthralling and uncommonly fierce and gritty adventure that will absorb your unbroken attention span for the entirety of its duration. It has awe-inspiring visuals, unbelievable character prototypes, tightly-choreographed and marvelous action sequences, and plot and character development capable of rivaling most mainstream dramas, let alone action flicks. Its worst feature is that its one and half hours pass with such suddenness that you are amazed and saddened to see that it has finally ended, and it has left you with a desperate urge to experience more movies like it, which are, unfortunately, quite rare.

Even for people who typically are not swayed by anime, and assuming you can stomach the more shocking scenes of sexuality and violence, "Ninja Scroll" earns my highest recommendation.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=6040&reviewer=316
originally posted: 08/01/02 12:08:24
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User Comments

11/10/13 boner the barbarian my favorite anime ever 5 stars
10/16/10 millersxing There isn't a more fun or wildly entertaining anime. 5 stars
3/20/06 magaafi i like this movie. if it ended differently wudve bin so GODDAM COOL 4 stars
10/20/05 a ninja sweet ending battle sequence, I personally think its the best action scene in anime period 5 stars
8/15/04 Archanist 101 SHUT-UP! 'i love Richird Hayworth', 'Butterball Cenobite' & 'Gray'!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
5/07/04 Rod Hawkins one of my favourites 5 stars
6/18/03 Dominic One of my all time favorites 5 stars
3/12/03 Butterball Cenobite wallows in sex and violence; aimed at the dimwitted "awesome, dude" teen crowd 1 stars
10/01/02 Kevin Smith Sexy, ferocious, an all out guy film to watch 5 stars
9/27/02 i love Richird Hayworth This fuckin sucks ass 1 stars
8/02/02 Jacob Bortz Intense, brutal, romantic, and action-packed. An artistic masterpiece in every respect. 5 stars
8/02/02 Zefram Mann Fantastic and artistic action with a heart and characters that have TONS of personality. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  06-Dec-1996

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