Judge David Johnson saw an alien fight a ninja in Vegas. It was awesome until PETA showed up and closed it down.
On paper, this seems like the ultimate geek B-movie. In execution…
Facts of the Case
…it comes close.
The place: Japan. The time: the, uh, old days. A group of highly-trained Shinobi is running around doing their thing, battling other warlords and ninjas and defending their village. But when a fiery meteorite lands, a lethal alien organism emerges and begins feasting on any shuriken-chucker it can find.
If you're looking for a tongue-in-cheek action movie dripping with over-the-top gore effects and a guy running around in a rubber suit that looks just different enough from Giger's Alien costume to avoid a lawsuit, I don't see how you'd be disappointed by Alien vs. Ninja.
We're not talking about iconic filmmaking by any stretch, but whenever a film sets out to accomplish something and largely does, that's a success. It's obvious that the folks behind AVN wanted to craft a ridiculous splatter comedy and they did.
Not that there aren't some significant speed bumps along the way to Cultfavoriteville. For one, this film takes a while to spool up, keeping the alien/ninja action at a minimum until the second third. Unfortunately, eating up the runtime until then is much filler—some half-assed character development, a failed comedy side-plot involving the aggressively flamboyant chief of the village and seemingly endless traipsing through woods.
Finally, the aliens and ninjas get down to business, building up to a final third that is non-stop man-in-suit slaughter and it's half a loaf of glorious. The CGI is limited, a blessing since the few instances where visual effects are employed look terrible.
The majority of the creature action is practical. When the aliens get their limbs chopped off, a fluid that may or may not be tomato bisque comes pouring out. The alien fetuses that lodge in the ninjas' throats are rubber monstrosities. The killer alien tongue is an elongated slab of plastic. Low-tech for sure, but there's a charm to that and I'll take a guy in a rubber suit getting his ass kicked by a ninja over yet another crappy CGI boa or python any day.
Funimation's DVD is okay, the 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen clean enough and the two 5.1 surround tracks (Japanese and English) suitably well-mapped to ensconce you in the din of incoherent alien death throes. A making-of documentary is the only extra.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
It has to be said: the "comedy" comes solely from the goofy sights of the ninjas creatively pounding on the alien. The writing is brutal.
Your brain cells might commit Seppuku, but there's jolly, sophomoric fun to be had with Alien vs. Ninja.
Not Guilty. Maybe in the sequel, we can come up with more creative settings
than "external: foliage."
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Scales of Justice
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