Film: Ninja Girl
UK Release date: 10th October 2011
Director: Seiji Chiba
Starring: Rina Takeda, Mitsuki Koga, Masanori Mimoto, Yuichi Sato
Running time: 65 mins
Genre: Martial Arts/Action
Reviewer: Adam Wing
Limited locations, a blink and you’ll miss it screenplay, ninja assassins and mediocre action choreography – looks like Seiji Chiba’s back in town. With the exception of Alien Vs Ninja, which benefited from a ridiculous concept and hilarious rubber costumes, Seiji Chiba has done very little to suggest any kind of future in the world of filmmaking. His films rarely make it past the hour mark, and that’s one of the few positives to emerge from his sorry CV, but still he continues to churn out the same movie time and time again.
Ninja Girl is the latest ‘film’ from writer/director Seiji Chiba, and it has but one trick up its well-worn sleeve. That would be 19-year-old karate sensation-turned-actress Rina Takeda (Karate Girl; High-Kick Girl), an ass-kicking ninja on hand to deliver a blast of lukewarm martial arts action. As the fierce rivalry between the Iga and Kouga clan’s rages on, a pair of psychotic eunuch ninjas is tasked with abducting young women to serve as "tools of pleasure". Not that the girls are going to give in without a fight. Little do they realise that one of their latest victims is a kunoichi, a highly skilled female ninja with vengeance in mind.
As far as detailed plot summaries go, that’s pretty much it for Ninja Girl. The cast consists of four girls and three guys, and if you’re already familiar with the works of Seiji Chiba, you’ll know to expect a series of forest-bound chase sequences and a kick-ass finale set inside a cave. Alien Vs Ninja wasn’t a good movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it did come complete with a welcome sense of humour. With Ninja Girl, Chiba has decided to drop the occasional guffaws in favour of monotonous exposition. It’s a chore from start to finish, light on action and devoid of personality.
A lengthy seven-minute credit sequence will do little to ease your fear, and most of the scenes that follow act as filler anyway. Chiba’s script hints at themes of depravity and exploitation, but we never get to see the outside world that he’s describing. Maybe we should blame the meagre funding, but there are definite signs of life hidden within Chiba’s script that should’ve been explored more fully. Just as the story starts to unfold, Chiba cuts to the end credits and we’re left with a feeling of emptiness, disillusionment and frustration. As Kisaragi gallops into the distance, you'll be forgiven for wondering whether she’s running from the amateur direction or the paltry post-it note screenplay, she certainly isn’t racing to get in line for further instalments.
Ninja Girl is a waste of time for all involved, with no redeeming features whatsoever. With lethargic action punctuating the tiresome exposition, even at 65 minutes Ninja Girl feels like a chore. Isn’t it about time somebody pulled Seiji Chiba to one side and had a quiet word in his ear? Some would have us believe that he’s a pioneering director of ninja action movies - others would call him lazy.