found yourself wondering if you might enjoy a film more if a Portuguese ninja
scholar was available to explain the cultural significance of the action
on-screen? Well, a kitchen sink filmmaker like Yoshihiro Nishimura understands
exactly where you’re coming from. By his lunatic standards, this foray into
ninja skullduggery is pretty grounded, whereas for the rest of us mere mortals,
it is total madness. Ninja clans will clash while Francisco the talking head elucidates
the finer points in Nishimura’s The Ninja
War of Torakage (trailer
screens today during the 2015 Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal.
and his wife Tsukikage were ninjas serving their ruthless mistress, Gensai, but
they fell in love and quit to raise a family. Of course, you do not resign from
Gensai’s service so easily—not that they considered the torture they endured so
very easy. She had temporarily allowed them a false sense of security, but that
is over now that she needs them again. Kidnapping their young son Kogetsu, she demands
they steal a certain Silver Scroll from the despised Rikuri clan. Once they
deliver it to her, she will marry it up with the Golden Scroll that just came
into her possession, to determine the location of an ancient treasure.
Torakage and Tsukikage find themselves out of the frying pan and into the fire
when they are captured by the human-sacrificing Rikuri clan. Somehow, the
competing clan fell under the sway of a charismatic cult leader, who offers
Torakage a similar deal. If he steals the Golden Scroll from Gensai, he can
exchange it for Tsukikage.
all might not sound so far removed from the Jidaigeki mainstream, but Nishimura
tosses in a bamboo Iron Man-like battle suit, dizzying “human shuriken” action,
drug addiction, a mercenary angel with a death’s head, Francisco’s color
commentary, a bunch of conversations about going poo, and Eihi Shiina from
Takashi Miike’s Audition doing her
thing. However, even amid all the lunacy, Torakage’s chief rival still
scrupulously observes his code of honor.
with Tokyo Tribe and Nowhere Girl, Nana Seino scores a heck
of a one-two-three punch in a trio of films beyond category. Each one is an
overpowering ecosystem unto itself, but she never wilts in any of the three.
Once again, she also shows some convincing action chops. As Torakage and his
nemesis, Takumi Saitô and Kanji Tsuda also flash plenty of moves and manage to
maintain a stiff-as-a-board sense of dignity while navigating the all-encompassing
bedlam. Of course, Eihi Shiina is creepy well past the point of comfort as the
Overly sensitive viewers should be warned—Ninja War is a fantastically bloody,
unabashedly subversive, and mildly scatological film. In short, it has
everything growing kids need for their healthy development. Recommended for
those who enjoy boldly over-the-top cult cinema, The Ninja War of Torakage screens tonight (7/24), as part of this
Labels: Fantasia '15, Japanese Cinema, Nana Seino, Yoshihiro Nishimura