Alien vs Ninja AVN エイリアンVSニンジャ (2011)

Alien vs Ninja   

Alien vs Ninja Film Poster
Alien vs Ninja Film Poster

AVN エイリアンVSニンジャAVN Eirian VS Ninja

Release Date: July 23rd, 2011

Running Time: 81 mins.

Director: Seiji Chiba

Writer: Seiji Chiba (Screenplay),

Starring: Shuji Kshiwabara, Mika Hijii, Ben Hiura, Masanori Mimoto, Donpei Tsuchihira,

The title says it all really. Aliens fighting ninjas. Two of the most iconic draws in cult movie history duke it out in a battle that should be cinematic gold but in the hands of director Seiji Chiba it is boring.

The rumble takes place in Sengoku era Japan where the Iga Ninja clan are spying on feudal lords and debating whether to throw their lot in with Oda Nobunaga or Tokugawa Ieyasu. Yamata, a young and impetuous ninja who revels in the thrill of the fight, is less interested in the politics so when a meteorite crashes into a village and unleashes a trio of aliens he finds himself facing his ultimate test as he fights katana against claw, shuriken against snakelike tail, and fist against fang.

AVN エイリアンVSニンジャ Yamata Image

As part of Sushi Typhoon’s opening gambit in seducing western audiences with low-budget weird Japan B-movie schlock, Alien vs Ninja fits the bill with its mock-serious setting containing a silly series of battles between ninjas and aliens which sees the script sacrificed for the spectacle but was there enough of a budget to go around?

Just enough, is the answer. Budget limitations result in a small cast and unambitious script and the lack of money in other departments is also clearly seen on screen. This is a splatter film minus much of the splatter and fun physical effects of the other titles in the genre that I have reviewed and the action mostly happens in non-descript forests and caves which saves the production money on set/location costs. A couple of exterior shots of a castle and village serve to ground the narrative in a time period but since locations are under-populated in terms of the cast everything feels lifeless, a sense exacerbated by the look of the film which is unexceptional especially since it is shot on digital camera so the visuals come across as flat. The lack of a budget can also be heard in the soundtrack, a combination of techno and traditional Japanese instruments, which is pretty ghastly.

The art design and costumes are not all that exciting aside from the sleek and futuristic ninja body armour. The titular alien is a guy in a rubber suit which is played up for all of the cheap silliness that it can evoke. The alien looks and acts a lot like the Xenomorph from Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) with its slick body, creeping movements, prehensile tale with which it stabs people with, and phallic protuberances that do just as much penetrating.

Genki-Alien-vs-Ninja-Xenomorph

The plot and narrative are purposefully limited and characterisation is barebones at best but the lack of imagination in the alien is disappointing since the focus of the film is all about the fighting between aliens which are little more than knock-offs of the Xenomorph, and some cool-looking ninjas.

Alien vs Ninja Iga Gang

There are a variety of ninjas to be seen, all given visual traits to differentiate them: Nezumi the fat blonde cowardly comic-relief ninja, Jinnai the handsome slick-haired one, and Rin, a beautiful female ninja who serves as the source of some dated comedy that revolves around one pervy alien sexually harassing the one female ninja (and the only female character in the entire movie!). Much like the visuals, it is all unimaginative and unsurprising.

The focus is suitably on the fighting which puts the stress more on the performers and the action direction and at times the film comes to life.

The scenes which are orchestrated by the latest generation of low-budget action directors, Yuji Shimomura (Versus, The Warrior’s Way, The Princess Blade) and Kensuke Sonomura (Kunoichi: Ninja Girl, Hard Revenge Milly: Bloody Battle, Nowhere Girl). They lace the film with battles that feature a variety of ninja weapons like katanas, flying chain-blades called shoge, spinning bombs, as well as guns amid lots of physical fights which are imaginative at times as various characters battle with different fighting techniques. I have never seen a ninja perform a suplex on an alien before and the one sexually harassed kick-ass ninja girl does beat the crap out of an alien (director Seiji Chiba doesn’t miss a trick in this battle, ensuring her duel with the alien comes across as dry-humping, every camera angle leering at her body) and send a blade into his man parts – a bit of justice, one might say.

Genki-Alien-vs-Ninja-Rin-vs-Xenomorph

To be fair, Seiji Chiba’s editing and direction is steady and the fights are coherent, just not that exciting. He uses CGI moderately, mostly during the fights, to show the aliens’ weird physical abilities and a fight high in the sky. The best parts of the film are the performers Shuji Kashiwabara as Yamata and Mika Hijii as ninja girl Rin. Both have continued to float in and out of action films, although Kashiwabara has worked on dramas like Who’s Camus Anyway (2005) and horror like The Locker (2004) and The Locker 2 (2004). I would like to see more of Mika Hiji who is wonderfully athletic and sexy.

Overall, this is a rather boring bad film on the same level as Big Tits Dragon. Despite the premise offering up a silly action adventure the film does not take off. The experience is dull because the special effects aren’t so special and the film is stunted by its limited budget when it comes to ambition. The aliens are silly and the action scenes are separated by stretches of dull dialogue and drama which is needless. This is not a bad film in the technical sense. Everything is competently shot and the action is easy to follow. If you have ever wondered what might have happened if the Xenomorph in Alien had come across katana wielding bad-ass ninjas then wonder no more and give this a try. Just lament the lack of a budget and hope for a better stab at the concept from some other team.

2.5/5

エイリアンVSニンジャ Rin
Best Image in the Entire Film

6 thoughts on “Alien vs Ninja AVN エイリアンVSニンジャ (2011)

    1. To be fair, he does make the most of the little resources at hand but the action and comedy in the film hardly reach the heights that other splatter films achieve or the silliness that the title implies should be forthcoming. I find the Chiba films I have watched are competently shot but they all have this inert atmosphere much like AvN.

  1. I’ve reviewed a few of Chiba’s films, including Ninja Girl with Rina Takeda and Rogue Ninja with Mika Hijii, and the best way I can describe them is “earnest”.

    I too had heard that A vs N was Chiba’s crowning achievement but maybe not after reading your review. But I can guess what it is like because Chiba shoots all of his films in the same location, seemingly has little clue as how to get a convincing performance from his cast and, of course, has a budget of about 500 yen to work with.

    You can’t really blame Chiba for trying as he is doing what many of us want to do but since artistic and commercial success has eluded him thus far, one wonders if/when he will give up reaching for that brass ring.

    1. Indeed, his films aren’t that entertaining to me but I respect the fact he has carved himself a career as a director and he works consistently. He has the technical skill but from the few releases I have seen the vision just isn’t there unlike with people like Shinya Tsukamoto who can work on a film with a limited budget and still turn in something memorable. Maybe Chiba will improve. He has another ninja movie coming out in 2015.

  2. I remember going through a weird string of reviewing Seiba Chiba movies, and as others have said this is still oddly the best of them (even if only compared to the duller offerings of Ninja Battle and Ninja Girl).

    I’m glad you took the time to mention the digital camera work…it’s the first thing you notice on screen, and it’s amazing how it makes even the more well constructed shots look so cheap.

    I think as a film deliberately made to laugh at during a beer and pizza night AvN is serviceable, but the two things that make it worth watching is the overt silliness (which isn’t taken advantage of nearly enough) and the occasionally impressive choreography, which could be more attributed to Hiroyuki Yoshida (who also did stunt work on Versus).

    1. It’s quite easy to marathon films of the same genre but you have to watch you don’t get burnt out which is a big danger with splatter films.

      I find. I don’t particularly mind Ninja Girl but I had higher expectations of Alien vs Ninja because of its background and concept. Hand this over to Yudai Yamaguchi or another splatter film director and it may have reached the silly heights the title suggests and its story requires.

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