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After more than four hundred years of war between the Shinobi warriors of the Manjidani Koga and Tsubagakure Iga clans, the Lord Hattori Hanzou decrees that they must live in peace. Both clans live hidden in the woods and mountain without confrontation and without training ninjas in the shadow art of Shinobi. In 1614, the Lord of the Lords is convinced that the clans are dangerous threats for keeping peace in his lands, and his advisor plots a Machiavellian plan to destroy their best warriors in a contest. Meanwhile, the young Iga Oboro and Koga Gennesuke fall in love for each other. When Oboro's grandmother and leader of Iga clan Ogen and Gennesuke's father and leader of the Koga clan Danjo kill each other, Oboro and Gannesuke must lead their warriors in the ultimate battle of the Shinobi clans.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
First I should say that I watched the subtitled version of this film but apparently there is an English dub on the North American release. Make no mistake, this IS an action movie. It is not as heavy on plot or characterization as similar films of the genre, and focuses more on matrix-like ninja fighting and great costumes. This is not necessarily a bad thing though as it does these things very well. The special effects are some of the best I've ever seen in a Japanese feature, and the overall cinematography is great. The story is pretty light and you really want to know more about some of the characters who are introduced in a totally classic "Good The Bad and the Ugly" style with their names being displayed on the corner of the screen as they are introduced.
The story centers on a pair of star-crossed lovers from rival ninja clans. The Tokugawa Government has just taken control of Japan and a new era of peace has broken out. To preserve this peace the Shogun decides that the two ninja clans must be destroyed, for their abilities are simply too dangerous and unpredictable. So the Shogun orders the two clans to each pick their five best warriors who will then battle to the death for the favor of the Shogun. Chosen to lead their respective clan's teams are the two unfortunate lovers who thought a new age of peace would allow their love to bloom, as rivalry between their clans was no longer necessary in their view now in a cruel twist of fate they must battle to the death. This is pretty much where the story ends, and the rest of the film is a cat and mouse game between the two ninja teams as they use their seemingly supernatural abilities against each other. The team members themselves are all very interesting and I found myself wanting to know more about them but was disappointed by the rate in which they are killed off.
Overall the film is well worth watching and is smarter than your average action film, but not by much.
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