Ninja II Blu-ray Review
It’s been a few years since American martial arts expert Casey Bowman (Scott Adkins, UNIVERSAL SOLIDER: DAY OF RECKONING, THE EXPENDABLES 2) traveled from Japan, where he was studying, to New York, to protect a highly regarded chest. Now he’s enjoying his quiet life as a dojo instructor and husband to Namiko (Mika Hijii, better known as Kaoru Mitsuki in the Japanese television series GARO), who is pregnant with their first child.
But his life is far from being without danger. No matter where he goes, Casey always feels like he’s being watched—and for good reason. After coming home from buying chocolate and seaweed for Namiko, he discovers she’s been brutally murdered. By who? Well, Casey must be awfully naïve to not consider the presence of former student Nakabara (Kane Kosugi, 2009’s COWEB) suspicious.
There are brief moments of training, although it doesn’t seem like Casey needs much of it. From there, he’s on his way to Myanmar to find drug lord Goro (Shun Sugata, ICHI THE KILLER) on a tip from Nakabara.
NINJA II, also known as NINJA: SHADOW OF A TEAR (get it?—shadow because he’s a ninja and tear because he’s sad), is, of course, the sequel to 2009’s NINJA. Returning as director is Isaac Florentine (whose credits also include the Dolph Lundgren vehicle BRIDGE OF DRAGONS, UNDISPUTED II/III and a chunk of episodes of various MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS incarnations), whose presence lends consistency to the series, which will likely spawn a third entry.
Those that got a kick out of the first NINJA will get the same thrills from NINJA II. They won’t mind how basic the plot is or how many times the husband-gets-revenge-over-his-slain-family plot has been done. What will matter is how good the fight scenes are. Like its predecessor, NINJA II features a number of well-organized battles, all of which this time were choreographed by Tim Man (stunt performer on ONG BAK 2; action coordinator, fight choreographer and stunt coordinator on 2012’s KILL ‘EM ALL). As he’s done with many movies before this, Man shows he’s an expert in his field by making the action lively and part of the characters.
Still, those looking for an innovative actioner will want to look elsewhere. There are no unique characters or motivations or plotlines that will make NINJA II stand out in theaters or on shelves. It doesn’t even necessarily try to outdo the first movie as much as it should, as most sequels strive to do. The combat scenes (complete with fists, swords and barbwire) may be strong, but there isn’t much here that hasn’t been done to death.
The villains, too, are one-dimensional and only there to be taken down by Casey. Not once does it ever seem like the hero is in danger of joining Namiko. Even when a baddie with a semi-automatic opens fire right at his body, he simply drops to the ground and hides behind a log. This not only seems silly, but restricts Adkins from being like any of the action stars he admires.
NINJA II BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: 1.78:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. NINJA II is given a very strong high-definition transfer, with fine details, textures and colors throughout.
Audio: English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD. Subtitles in English and Spanish. Also strong is the audio transfer, which goes into full force during the fight scenes.
Featurette (7:15): This piece looks at the action and work of the cast and crew of NINJA II.
Cast & Crew Interviews (12:36): Director Isaac Florentine, star Scott Adkins and more touch on a variety of topics (from martial arts and actions to weapons and technicalities) in this collection of interviews.
Behind the Scenes (5:23) includes footage shot on the set of NINJA II.