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September 16, 2010
Ninja Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
N/A6/9/2010All InteractiveIsaac Florentine
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1MA15+Scott Adkins

If you're a gamer (and if you're reading that's likely the case), then you're probably quite familiar with ninjas. For years there have been games based on the skills of the silent assassin - from Shinobi to I-Ninja, Tenchu to Ninja Gaiden there are plenty of choices. Of course there are also a large number of movies focusing on ninjas including this movie, simply titled Ninja.

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Look, its a ninja, in, ermm, Ninja!
A westerner named Casey (Scott Adkins), studying Ninjutsu in Japan, is asked by the Sensei to return to New York to protect the legendary Yoroi Bitsu, an armored chest that contains the weapons of the last Koga Ninja.

I watched Ninja with two other people - my wife, and a very good friend of mine and the first question that all three of us raised, almost simultaneously, was "Is the lead actor here related to Ben Affleck?" I mean the guy could pose as his double, or twin, in a film and quite easily get away with it. Despite his looks lead actor Scott Adkins is not related - in fact he was born in England. One thing is certain though, he's pretty good with the martial arts and that shines through with some of the sequences in this release. Indeed in doing research for this film I discovered that Scott has Black Belts in Wushu, Tae Kwon Do, Kickboxing, Judo and Jujutsu.

So what about Ninja as a movie? Well it's pretty formulaic, predictable and poorly scripted in places. Little stands out in the acting department either but with a movie like this it really is about the action sequences and on that front this movie is pretty good. Ninja's are cool and some of the moves in this movie are pretty bad-assed with very little wire-work evident and the filmmakers preferring to use real martial arts experts to perform the moves. If there is one major criticism it's that the CG work - for blood primarily - is pretty dire and certainly brings down the overall look of the film.

Overall Ninja isn't the best action movie ever seen, but it has its moments, with some pretty intense action sequences that reminded us of those plot-thin, but action heavy movies of the 1980's. Worth a look if that style of movie floats your boat.

From what we can gather, including IMDB's details, this film was originally created with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, however this transfer from All Interactive presents the movie at 1.78:1 using the AVC MPEG-4 codec. From what we can tell some image on the left and right of the screen have been cropped off while the vertically the image seems to have been opened up thereby showing a little more. Some may be a little upset that the encoding does not retain the original image intended by the filmmakers, and we have to agree. Still, let's continue...

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Scott Adkins and Mika Hijii in Ninja.
As expected this is a very dark movie with many scenes taking place at night or in poorly lit locations. While there is some black crush evident, it is surprisingly minimal and for a direct to Blu-Ray release this is a decent transfer. Detail is impressive and compression artifacts are light - we did notice some aliasing early in the film.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this release is the audio - this really is a cracker of a release. Encoded with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track this lossless experience really has some great effects which use the surround sound channels on occasion. The music too is quite good in places, although in others is quite cheesey. As an overall experience this isn't going to be up there with the triple-A releases, but it is certainly better then we expected from such a release.

There is only one other audio track on this disc, a Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at 640kbps. It's decent but doesn't quite have the fidelity of the lossless track. The are no subtitle options on this disc so bear that in mind.

There are a couple of extras on the Ninja Blu-Ray however, besides the trailers, all are in Standard Definition, and to be honest there's little worth your time here.

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Ninja contains some impressive fight sequences.
Designing a Hero (18:18): If you want to know the plot of the movie, then just watch this featurette - and even then it's summarised in the first 5 minutes. Oh dear... This is a 18 minute sales pitch for the movie which shows many of the best bits. If you've seen the movie, then this is pretty much a waste of time as it repeats what you've seen. In fact, if you're making special features for inclusion on a Blu-Ray disc, this is how you don't do it.

Behind The Scenes (10:04): This featurette, even with the terrible video quality, gives a sense of what it was like to be on the set for the filming of Ninja. Essentially a series of short clips with some interesting moments. Would have been nice to have some commentary, but it's pretty clear what's happening.

Image Gallery (5:32): Dozens of still images are presented here from the production of this film.

Trailers (6:37/HD): Trailers for Tormented (2:18), Possession (2:31) and Dark Country (1:48) are presented here in High Definition.

Admittedly Ninja isn't a great movie, not even very good, but for fans of 1980's action movies this seems to have that same feel, albeit with more violence. The transfer is decent, and there are a couple of extras so it's probably worth checking out if you're a fan of the genre.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę All Interactive. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.