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For centuries, there lived warriors of darkness and shadow with strange powers and arcane skills, living only for battle. They were the SHINOBI. The year is 1614. Japan has been united under the Tokugawa Shoguns and the land is begining to feel at peace. Two remote ninja clans, the Koga and the Iga, are ancient enemies but have long been bound by a peace agreement forbidding them to fight. The heirs to the leadership of both clans have fallen in love but a tragic fate awaits them. A cruel plot is set by the Shogun to wipe these two clans from existence by breaking the peace agreement and forcing the two clans to battle. Five Ninjas of each the Koga and Iga clans will battle against each other to the death. As a great war begins it brings the two young heirs together again. But this time as enemies.
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Top Customer Reviews
If you're an anime buff, you'll find that this movie well executes the transition of elements and aesthetic normally found in Japanese animation. Each character is unique and memorable in their own way and you'll find yourself satisfied with the amount of time you see them on screen. This movie has fantasy elements woven into details based on actual existing ideas in history such as the Ninja tribes, but just forget for a moment that anything has to be plausible, realistic, or historically accurate here. This movie is what it is.
The beauty of this movie is, it ends. You don't see any cop outs leaving room open for a sequel. This film is a standalone masterpiece and I'm happy to have it in my Blu-ray collection. If you're interested, see about picking up the soundtrack because there's an amazing track by Ayumi Hamasaki (Japan's Madonna equivalent, or better) called Heaven which is worth listening to.
I enjoyed it to its fullest, even more because they had much more budget than your average japanese movies (and I have seen lots of them)
Keep in mind that Basilisk was a 26 episode x 20 minutes in length.
The movie is roughly aroun 90 minutes.
Even if the movie was condensed, I was happy that they cut out some of the scenes which I did not enjoy in the anime. I found them useless honestly, so that was a plus for me.
They are fights, brilliant done in my opinion, and I even found that it was fun that they slightly changed certain things in the movie, which I found interesting.
I guess you could compared it a bit to Death Note the anime vs the liveaction movies.
If you have viewed these (Death Note) and enjoyed both (aniem and liveaction movies), with the slight changes int he storylines of certains characters and unexpected things, then pick up this movie now.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The following review applies to the Hong Kong Region-3 release:
I just finished watching my dvd copy of this film and felt that I have to review this marvelously tragic but hopeful film. Mind you, this SHINOBI film does not follow any of the video-game inspired Shinobi titles, rather it is based on the JAPANESE FEUDAL LEGEND from which both the video game and the anime series "Basilisk" were based on.
In order for you to love this film, you have to have an idea of Japanese customs and their unrelenting loyalty to their emperor/leader. For them, their Emperor is like a living God-man. That is why when a new Shogunate has united feudal Japan, he fears that the wrath of the SHINOBI may upset the balance of power. SHINOBI is the elite NINJA clan, who has been trained since birth in the art of combat and warfare.
Two Ninja clans has had a truce for years that the new Lord of the shogunate has lifted this truce and has misled them into believing that each clan will help decide who will ascend to the role of shogun(in the future) should they have 5 of their greatest and most skilled warriors to battle each other in a contest to the death. Gennusuke and Oboro are the lovers caught in the middle because each have ascended to the role of chieftain in their respective clans. In truth, the Shogunate rulers wish to destroy their clans because they fear their powers/skills and that one day rise up against the Supreme Shogunate of Japan. They believe since their goal is peace and prosperity, war mongers should be extinct because they believe that without war, they have no purpose. Some members of the clans also believe this.
Each clan warrior has character and depth, with variable skills and abilities. One warrior is like a chameleon, one has simian-like agility, one has NEAR-immortality, a woman has poison that goes around her skin/breath, one is a blind psychic among others.
The film itself is very tragic and when Oboro makes the supreme sacrifice to save the children/families of both clans, even the shogunate had to believe that the SHINOBI can have more than one purpose in life.
The set designs were awesome and the characters were well designed. The special effects weren't all hokey and fit the movie's pace. As in most samurai films, the battles were quick and exciting, although not overly bloody.
The film is one of the best ASIAN fantasy-epic films I've seen thus far. The dvd I have was mastered in High-def widescreen(EXTREMELY SHARP transfer) with 5.1 (DTS)digital audio(I didn't get mind in AMAZON). I highly recommend this film, now I have to cry for a PREQUEL about the warring clans before! 4.5 stars all the way!!
ADDED: I managed to see the U.S. region-1 release by Funimation. It is less than 2 minutes shorter than the region-3 DTS-ES Hong Kong release. Nothing relevant was missing, except for an extended beginning and Oboro's encounter with one of the Kouga warriors. The video of the Asian release is a lot sharper/crisper than the Funimation transfer. As I thought, the Funimation transfer was derived from the Thai version.
Though the romantic plot is not as powerful as Crouching Tiger or House of Flying Daggers, it is still a compelling story for which you will want to know how it ends. But frankly, the real meat and potatoes of this movie is about the combat and the very Animé inspired characters. There are other live action animés out there, but this has quickly taken it's place to my number one favorite amongst them. Bonus points for making this accessible to the open non-initiated public. Naruto fans should find the same kind of interesting character concepts, save for the fact that everything is taken with a very mature tone (no teen aged ninjas here). Anyone who liked Warriors of Zu Mountain or Storm Riders will definitely want to pick this up.
Okay.. Rant over.. This is an amazing movie, absolutely amazing. It is a great martial arts movie with a few aspects of wire-fu (i.e. Hero, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, etc.) and the rest of plain old martial arts, but good martial arts! The fight scenes are awesome. There is a Romeo and Juliet type love story as well for the romantics. The two featured on the cover are the heirs to each of the two Shinobi tribes which have always warred with one another, more particularly now so that there is peace among the land and their culture knows nothing but fighting. The movie has aspects of mysticism as well, almost sci-fi. There are some parts that seem to hint or directly imply magic, and other parts that feel like a foreign X-Men film. The back story and primary story is worthy of a classic foreign epic. Maybe not in the top best of all time, but definitely one of the better. (I watch a lot of foreign films and this movie ranks up there with the best I've seen in this year next to The Warlords with Jet Li, Red Cliff, and IP Man).
So maybe this will help any moviegoers interested in a great movie with a variety easily appealing to all genders, ages and races. Other than the actual stated fact that this is dubbed in English please disregard the other users rating, this movie is a 4.5 out of 5 minimum.. ENJOY! =)
As source material, the 1959 novel "The Koga Ninja Scrolls", previously adapted as the anime series "Basilisk", was a good base, using the traditional conflict between the Iga and Koga ninja villages with a Romeo/Juliet love story thrown in for good measure. (The director is sure to hammer this point home, even stating several times that the two are "star-crossed lovers"). Director Ten Shimoyama was also a good choice, having experience in the Chinese action film industry, and was able to supply some of the dramatic action that is a hallmark of that genre. The lead actress Yukie Nakama brought some star power, being probably the most popular actress in Japan today. They were even good enough to skirt around her inability to fight, as Yukie has all the martial arts ability of a broom stick. But she does have an awfully pretty face, which was used to full effect.
All in all, "Shinobi" is a good flick, better than I had expected. There is not really the experience there, either on the part of the actors or the director, to produce a really moving martial arts fantasy, but everyone worked with what they had, keeping the action low-key and making the emotions of the characters the focus. Because the basis of the story is the Romeo/Juliet conflict, nobody is really expecting a happy ending, but even with that in mind the character's deaths have impact, and even then not everything turns out exactly as expected. Some of the choices were odd, and I am not really sure what is the point of including legendary warriors Hattori Hanzo and Jubei Yagyu in the plot without sending them into battle, and they serve as little more than recognizable set decoration.
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