• Shinobi: Heart Under Blade DVD Review

Hey folks, Valkor here. This past weekend a friend of mine slipped me a film that he says I should be featured on TOV. So I thought "Hey I'm up for the challenge, bring it". And not only did he bring it, he brought it to the table and opened it. And what I found inside was an awesome film from Japan entitled "Shinobi: Heart Under Blade". And what a fantastic movie it is.

Shinobi Heart Under Blade

"Shinobi: Heart Under Blade" is part Romeo and Juliet and part Ninja Scroll. It's the year 1614, Japan has been united and everything is at peace... sorta. Enter two lovers: Gennosuke and Oboro, who are from opposing Ninja clans that have fought for centuries. But head honcho of the land, Hattori, wants the two factions to bring their best five fighters together and duke it out to the death so that one will win the favor of the Shogun. However, when Gennosuke finds out about this, he refuses to battle; he takes his fighters and heads to Senpuu to find out the real reason why Hattori wants the two factions to fight. I mean he's in love; sure he's in love with the enemy but he doesn't want to kill her off just as they're discussing marriage and the possibility of bringing the two sides together. However, Oboro and her crew are on hot on his trail, to head them off at the path and the battle is on... to the death. Their fights are fierce, beautifully choreographed and it ends as expected with Gennosuke and Oboro against one another. The winner of this match decides the fate of two clans. And that's pretty much it; there's nothing complex or any crazy plot twists, just a straight up action flick that's very deep with emotion and wrought with some great action scenes as the two clans battle it out "supernatural style". Digging a little deeper I found out that "Shinobi: Heart Under Blade" is based on an anime of the same name. I gotta find this anime.

Shinobi Heart Under Blade

The Good

I don't even know where to begin discussing all that's good about "Shinobi: Heart Under Blade". But let's start with the plot; it's pretty straightforward and easily draws you in from the jump. Yea, some parts are a bit predictable but overall it's damn good storytelling. The cinematography is amazing as colors aren't too bright and the darks aren't too dark, which makes the film look very natural and fitting for an era piece. Sure, the film looks great, but it's the cast that makes this movie shine. My favorite character is Yashamaru with his flowing sleeves and ropes that fly out of them - he kicks all ass. Yakushiji Tenzen, the 300-year-old Shinobi, is another favorite though he doesn't get enough screen fight time as I'd like. But when he's onscreen you feel his presence. Oboro is just so sexy to pass up and the way her eyes are brought out are ever so enchanting (Yea that sounded gay. Do something). Kagerou is another hottie but she's like Rogue from the X-men only more deadly as she was raised on all kinds of poison. A kiss from her can literally kill you... and I don't want to think what going down on her would do... Anywho, audio wise the soundtrack is spot on perfect as every tune fits each scene appropriately and the end song is just beautiful. (must... get... soundtrack) And while the film is not a special effects-heavy flick, what's here blends in perfectly with the on-screen action. My favorite effect is Oboro's "Piercing Eyes"; woooo you'll be walking funny the rest of your life.

Shinobi Heart Under Blade

The Bad

How about Gennosuke's hair? What's the deal with that Mohawk? It's just a little distracting as you're instantly drawn to his mop when he is on screen. But the biggest disappointment, though not all that huge, is the lack of back-story on the 8 warrior elites, especially Kisaragi, another cool character that doesn't get enough screen time. He has a phantom-like power plus the ability to steal faces, and that's pretty much all you know about him. Again it's not a total downer because the film is freakin awesome, but a guy like that you wanna know more about who he is, ya know?

Shinobi Heart Under Blade

The Ugly

Nothing ugly here though there are a couple scenes that are on the squeamish side.

Overall Shinobi: Heart Under Blade has truly found a place in my DVD collection and definitely one of the best films I've seen this year. It has straightforward storytelling, an excellent cast of characters all set against a beautiful backdrop making this a must see and own for anyone a fan of the genre. Or if you're just looking for a good action flick. Funimation has picked up the US DVD rights and it's available now in a dub version (not excluding original Japanese audio). This a definite must see and I highly recommend it. And out of TOV 5 stars, I give "Shinobi: Heart Under Blade" a 4.5.