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Revenge Of The Ninja (Blu-ray)

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    Ian Jane
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  • Revenge Of The Ninja (Blu-ray)



    Released by: Kino Lorber
    Released on: May 26th, 2015.
    Director: Sam Firstenberg
    Cast: Sho Kosugi, Mario Gallo, Keith Vitali, Virgil Frye, Kane Kosugi
    Year: 1983
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    Eighties action movie fans will remember the Golan-Globus films fondly. It seemed for a while there that a new Cannon Films action movie was coming out every month. While they were pretty formulaic, they were always worth a look due to some pretty cool exploitative set pieces and nifty B-level stars. Revenge Of The Ninja was one of their best, a film that hit all the right notes and that landed at just the right time to really cash in on the ninja movie craze that its predecessor, Enter The Ninja, helped to create.

    In the film, Sho Kosugi plays Cho Osaki, an artist living in Japan who returns to his home to find that a gang of evil ninjas has massacred his family. Only his son and his mother survived the attack and at the suggestion of his close friend and art broker, Cho moves them all off to America. The hope is to start a new life and to open an art gallery in which he can display his hand made Japanese dolls. Cho, who keeps it a secret that he used to be a ninja, seals up his sword and vows never to use his ninja powers again.

    Things seem to be going pretty smooth once Cho moves to the land of opportunity, that is until he gets involved in a drug smuggling plot that is going on right under his nose. He soon learns that he has been used as a patsy. It seems that the mafia has been using the dolls that he's had shipped from Japan as smuggling devices for some high-grade heroin they've been importing into the U.S.A.

    When Cho finds out what's going on, his son gets kidnapped and his mother is killed, sending him into action. He breaks the seal on his sword once more, only to find out that there is another ninja in town. Not only is this other ninja up to no good, but he just might be behind all of this….

    If you're a fan of the eighties era ninja films that seemed to be coming out faster than you can shake a stick at during the genre's boom years, then you probably saw Revenge Of The Ninja. If you didn't, stop what you're doing right now and go get it, because it really is one of the best. The movie has just enough setup to matter and it moves at a nice, quick pace. The violence is strong and consistently well-choreographed, letting the various players involved really strut their stuff. Realism is thrown out the door from the opening scene (we see Kosugi catch an arrow in his teeth!) but it doesn't matter. This is a world where kids and senior citizens alike can get in on the action, kicking ass and taking names alongside the best trained assassins that the world has to offer. It's a world that puts entertainment first and logic a very distant second and it's a world we should all be so lucky to experience, if only for ninety minutes.

    Not surprisingly, the focus of the film is Sho Kosugi. The man is a total bad ass, never afraid to put his ninja powers to the test while at the same time, never shying away from his character's emotional side. He may not have the range or the depth of some of cinema's more lauded thespians but he handles the material thrown at him well enough to make it work. We buy him as a loving father, but so too do we buy him as an instrument of deadly vengeance. This movie is pretty much nonstop action with only a few scenes interrupting the fights to add some more or less unnecessary character development to the mix. The film does slow down a bit when this occurs, but never so much as to really pull you out of things at all.

    Throw in a cheesy eighties synth-rock score that would make John Carpenter weep and a whole lot of gratuitous bloodshed, even a few gratuitous nude scenes into the mix, and you've got one fine piece of ninja-slpoitation all wrapped up in a nice neat ninety minute package. Nostalgia or not, it's a movie that remains as endlessly entertaining now as it was back in the eighties.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Revenge Of The Ninja arrives on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.78.1 widescreen. The picture could have been given a little more clean up than it's received here, as minor print damage and debris shows up frequently enough that you won't have to squint to notice it, but the good most definitely outweighs the bad. Detail is considerably improved over the old MGM DVD releases, as is texture and color reproduction. You'll notice this in the background details - the porcelain used for the dolls being a nice example - but especially in close-up shots. The image is free of any noise reduction or edge enhancement and compression issues are never a problem. This isn't a reference quality transfer but it is a damn good one.

    Audio chores are handled well enough by the DTS-HD 2.0 track, presented in the film's native English without any optional dubs or subtitles provided. Clarity is solid. This sounds like the mid-tier eighties action film that it is. Dialogue is quite clear and nicely balanced, it comes across with good presence and a fair bit of depth to it. The score occasionally sounds a little bit thin but the sound effects used throughout the movie have good punch. Again, this is a nice upgrade over the past DVD release.

    The main extra on the disc is an audio commentary by Director Sam Firstenberg who is joined by Stunt Coordinator Steven Lambert for a genuinely engaging look back at what went into getting this movie made. This is a reasonably scene specific walk through of the movie, with discussion ranging from why the movie was shot in Utah of all places to what it was like coordinating a lot of the fight scenes, some of which were pretty intricate, with Kosugi. There's lots of talk towards the end about the difficulties involved in staging the film's big finish and along the way plenty of interesting stories about working with Golan and Globus, who did what in front of and behind the camera and a fair bit more. If you're a fan of the movie, this commentary really is a nice treat.

    Rounding out the extra are the film's original theatrical trailer, a still gallery of behind the scenes images, a brief video introduction from Firstenberg, static menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    Revenge Of The Ninja is very much a product of its time but that's part of its appeal. It's a nearly non-stop barrage of action and intrigue with more ninja mayhem than almost everything that came in its wake. If it's light on story, so be it, you will be entertained! Kino's Blu-ray is a good one, offering up the movie in a rock solid transfer with good lossless audio and a few extras highlighted by a really good commentary.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!
























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