A woman working the fields and tending to her baby is ganked by a neck rope thrown by an unseen kidnapper. Thus is the world of Kunoichi!
As you probably know by now, TarsTarkas.NET is a fan of martial arts films, particularly female martial artists. And as Rina Takeda is one of the up and coming women taking the films to the new decade, we’ve been following her career closely. From High-Kick Girl! to KG – Karate Girl, Takeda has matured as an actress and martial artist. And Takeda has taken on more and more projects, keeping herself busy. But Kunoichi is a step back in the quality department, and I was disappointed at the final project.
Kunoichi is marketed as a period martial arts piece. We know it won’t be a giant spectacle, and I fully expect a low-budget affair. It’s set in the woods, a familiar place for fans of low budget films, as that way they have an excuse for no extras running around. And permits are easier to get for running around in the middle of nowhere (if they even bothered!) But Kunoichi is surprising in how low budget it looks and feels. It’s a martial arts film with barely any martial arts. That’s not what I signed up for! The only decent fight is around the 40 minute mark, and is over with 10 minutes to go on our hour-long film. Besides a few teases of fighting and some kicking, there is little else, and nothing that is choreographed for more than one move. Disappointing is an understatement.
Stop for me, it’s the CLAW!
Director Seiji Chiba has put out numerous low budget films in recent years. Alien vs Ninja garnered some praise, and probably made funding of Kunoichi easier. But while Alien vs Ninja was a mix of comedy and action, Kunoichi is stoically serious in tone. You don’t get the sense that anyone is having fun here, and that hurts the film as well. I don’t expect Giggles Ninja Girl, but one or two goofy things wouldn’t have hurt.
And once again, we don’t need no stinking subtitles!
Kisaragi (Rina Takeda) – She’s just a Koga clan ninja getting kidnapped and then killing the kidnappers after a while. No hurry.
Shimotsuki (Mitsuki Koga) – The serious Iga clan kidnapper who is good at martial arts and dressing for his gig on The Black Pearl. Mistuki Koga is an accomplished martial artist who has appeared and done stunt work in many films, including Godzilla, Mothra, Mechagodzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.
Hizuki (Masanori Mimoto) – An Iga clan braggart and annoying kidnapper, who gets kicked in the head many many many times until he is dead. DEAD. Spoilers.
A Mysterious Man (Yuichi Sato) – This guy just shows up and frees the women, then starts goofing around and giving women to some Leprosy Guy. He’s like an internet troll in real life. What a jerk! There is frustratingly little about Yuichi Sato the actor online, except he might be part of a boy band called PureBoys. That name sounds too perverted to be used in the States, even though it’s probably the most vanilla thing ever.
Leprosy Guy (Kentaro Shimazu) – This crazy Leprosy Guy just gotta hump! Doesn’t matter who or what. OF course, he turns out to be B-movie mainstay Kentaro Shimazu. Why wouldn’t he be? See him also in Machine Girl, RoboGeisha, and Mutant Girls Squad.
NipponCinema sez: Takeda will play a female ninja named Kisaragi who attempts to rescue a group of women being held captive. It’s set sometime in the Sengoku period, during a time of fierce fighting between the Koga and Iga ninja clans.
Here is a kicking people in the head trailer also thanks to NipponCinema, who you should probably follow on Twitter to get news first, or wait a day until it shows up on everyone else’s website.
In addition, I’ve gotten a few episodes of the Ancient Dogoo Girls series with Rina Takeda in it and….my God. Japan is on crack!