Funimation // 2009 // 120 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 14th, 2011
One ninja stands alone.
And that ninja punches sharks in their stupid faces.
Kamui was adopted into the Shinobi at an early age and learned a whole lot of bad-ass ninja moves like the Izuna Drop and some crazy cloning attack. He also learned how to fly and bounce off of trees. It's a handy skill set and will come in useful when he decides to bolt the clan and fend off wave after wave of ninja pursuers.
His escape eventually leads him to a small fishing village, where he makes some new friends and realizes the serenity of fishing for sea bass. Circumstances eventually lead him to a new, exciting career onboard a pirate vessel that specializes in shark murdering.
I've seen a lot of movies that try to be video games. But Kamui Gaiden may just have set the new standard. It makes Scott Pilgrim vs. The World look like The Pianist. Anyone searching for a gritty, grounded, realistic karate action movie should look elsewhere; Kamui has no use for you.
You know what you're getting from the get-go, when we see our hero running like crazy, trying get away from his former ninja clan hombres. Almost immediately the rules of earthly physics are broken as Kamui begins sailing through the air and running upside down on trees. He breaks out his Izuna Drop, which, of course, is Ryu's signature move in the Xbox video game series Ninja Gaiden, but I didn't have to tell you that right? He dodges slow motion shuriken with shocking agility. He torpedoes his body in mid-air to knock suckers thirty yards. He throttles gigantic sharks with shocking prowess. It appears that Kamui has fully leveled up and used his skill points to purchase awesome ninja moves.
One problem, though: the visual effects in Kamui Gaiden are absolutely terrible. I'm having trouble conjuring up one piece of CGI that wasn't hugely embarrassing. Maybe when that one guy had his arms chopped off and the faintest of computer-generated blood pumped out of his sockets? Maybe? As for the big stuff -- the flying, the super moves, the shark walloping -- it's all bad.
These technological flaws are potential game-breakers and I wouldn't blame you at all if you tuned out and started doing laundry or something. It didn't blow the whole thing up for me, which is a bit odd because 1) I really dislike wire/CGI-assisted actioners and 2) I really dislike self-serious actioners that employ goofy wire and CGI assistance. But for some reason, Kamui didn't leave me cold.
Why? What could it be?
Oh yes. Shark punching!
The two-disc set brings a solid 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and two 5.1 Dolby Digital mixes (English and Japanese). Disc two doesn't really strike me as necessary as it only contains 45 minutes of extras, namely two making-of featurettes.
If you can get past the laughably bad effects work, there's ridiculous fun to be had with Kamui. That's a big "if," though.
Not Guilty. Sorta.
Review content copyright © 2011 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 EX (Japanese)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 120 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated