Written by: Michael Den Boer on January 29th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, December 18th, 1982
Director: Mitsumasa Saito
Writer: Ei Ogawa
Cast: Hiroyuki Sanada, Noriko Watanabe, Akira Nakao, Jun Miho, Sonny Chiba, Mikio Narita
DVD Released: February 8th, 2005
Approximate Running Time: 100 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.00:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono
DVD Release: Adness/Ventura
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.99
Lord Danjo Matsunaga is infatuated with Lady Ukyo (Noriko Watanabe) who is in love with lord Miyoshi. A sorcerer named Kashin promises Lord Matsunaga the love of Lady Ukyo via a love potion. Who ever marries Lady Ukyo the shogun’s daughter will become the next ruler of the land. Kashin’s five henchmen capture Ukyo’s twin sister Kagaribi whose tears are needed to make the love potion. Jotaro (Hiroyuki Sanada) has searched high & Low for his lover Kagaribi. He soon discovers of her death vowing revenge against Kashin and his henchmen. Will Lady Ukyo finally fall in love with Lord Matsunaga or does her love belong to someone else?
Actress Noriko Watanabe made her film debut in Ninja Wars playing twins sisters Ukyo and Kagaribi. Ninja War’s was based on the novel “Iga Ninpocho written by Futaro Yamada. He also wrote the novel that the Sonny Chiba film Samurai Reincarnation was also based on. Besides playing the part of Shinzaemon Yagyu in Ninja wars Sonny Chiba also worked as the films action coordinator. Ninja Wars central theme is based upon one man Lord Danjo Matsunaga’s quest for power and his obsession with Lady Ukyo. The majority of the film is spent dealing with this one goal of Lady Ukyo taking a love potion that finally makes her love Lord Danjo Matsunaga.
The use of introducing a twin sister is exactly original, still it work in Ninja Wars. Noriko Watanabe who plays both Lady Ukyo and her twin sister Kagaribi is very good in both roles. There is a sweetness about her that makes her characters more endearing. One of the henchmen in the film has an interesting weapon he shoots a liquid like substances out of his mouth that is toxic as it can burn flesh. Sonny Chiba in the role of Shinzaemon Yagyu makes ample use of his limited screen time. Even in a lesser role he has the ability to steal every scene he appears in. Hiroyuki Sanada is the star of the show he plays Jotaro the love interest of twin sisters. He also proves that he is no slouch as he shows off his agility in several action sequences.
Ninja Wars is directed by Mitsumasa Saito who also directed the Sonny Chiba film G.I. Samurai. Mitsumasa Saito’s direction is more polished this time around and the action is more graceful. The film is beautifully photographed with burnt out and scenic green landscapes compositions that have been carefully framed. The photography adds to the films dream like mood. My only minor complaint about the movie would be that are not enough Ninja’s. I found the story to engaging and there was just enough action to keeps things moving along.
Ninja Wars is presented in an anamorphic widescreen the preserves the films original 2.00:1 aspect ratio. The colors and flesh tones look natural as they never bleed into each other. The black levels remain strong and constant with solid detail through out. Grain is kept to a minimum and besides a few minor specs another great transfer from Adness.
This DVD comes with only one audio option the films original Japanese language track presented in a Dolby Digital Mono. For a mono track this mix makes good use of the complete sound field. The dialog comes through clean and easy to hear. There are no problems with hiss or distortion. English subtitles have been included that are easy to follow and understand.
Extras include a Sonny Chiba trailer collection with the following titles Black Magic Wars, Karate Bearfighter, Karate Bullfighter, Killing Machine, Shogun’s Samurai, Legend of The Eight Samurai, Karate for Life and G.I. Samurai. Rounding out the extras is liner notes once again written by Patrick Macias whose knowledge about the films of Sonny Chiba is always welcomed. Adness keeps the Sonny Chiba titles coming with Ninja Wars.
Another outstanding release that gives fans of Chiba a chance to see the film in its best home video version to date. Ninja Wars in one of the better fantasy sword epics that Sonny Chiba appeared in and even though he has minor role his impact on the films outcome is significant.