Wednesday, 19 February 2014


Mad Jester reviews: Alien vs. Ninja(Or: 'Men who Wear Rubber Alien Costumes and the Women who Hump Them to Death')

This review took me a long time to write. And not for the usual reasons of procrastination or running afoul of the local constabulary.

Nope, this time the review took a long time because of the sheer ambivalence with which the film left me. I honestly couldn't decide whether or not I liked it at all.

The film in question, in case you're the odd sort who begins reading articles without glancing at the title, is 2010's action-horror-comedy opus Alien vs. Ninja, brought to us by our friends at Sushi Typhoon. It's... an odd little movie, I'll give it that.

Our story begins with Yamata, Jinnai and Nezumi (you can tell he's the comic-relief sidekick, because his name means "rat") on patrol not far from their Iga ninja village home. After a brief run-in with some rival ninja of the Koga clan...

Now that's hardly fair.

Poor buggers never had a chance.

...our heroes see a bright red light, streaking toward earth, in the direction of their village. Naturally, our boys become concerned and, after a meeting with the Clan Head and joining up with kunoichi (female ninja) Rin and some Disposable Faceless Mooks, they set out to investigate the object that crashed down in the woods.

See, this is what made the Ninja Dinosaurs go extinct.

Not long after departing they meet a young boy who says that his village was massacred by some unknown entity. Before they can get much more explanation out of him, they're attacked by one of the aliens, who decimates their group (well, slaughters all the Mooks) before any of them realize what's going on. They manage to kill three aliens, and wound a fourth who escapes, taking Yamata's best friend Jinnai with it. Nezumi, terrified, flees back to the ninja village to warn them, only to find it's been destroyed by the remaining alien... who corners Nezumi and rips his head off.

Nezumi, depicted here with about as much dignity as he was given for the rest of the film.

Meanwhile, Yamata and Rin go after the last alien to avenge their fallen comrades (and also Nezumi), but not before the aliens' most horrifying power is revealed: the power to control human bodies, even dead ones. Jinnai and the dead ninja attack them en masse, refusing to go down even after being dealt lethal blows.

Alien zombie slaves speak perfect, if somewhat colourful, English.

Now, as I said, this movie definitely left me ambivalent towards it. On one hand, the martial arts action is excellent, the fights are well-choreographed, and the gore is, while a bit over-the-top, pretty well-done for the relatively low budget with which they were working. On the other hand, though, the film is silly in spots. REALLY silly. Of course, it is partly a comedy, but it feels like they were a bit heavy-handed- it comes off less as comic relief, and more like the movie couldn't decide at which pace it wanted to go.

For example, this happens in the middle of a fight...

...followed by this.

I honestly could not tell whether this was an intentional, Kaufman-esque don't-give-a-fuck decision, or if it was just the result of bad direction. If the former, then Alien Vs. Ninja is a beautiful foray into the ridiculous-by-design, on par with, say, Sgt. Kabukiman, NYPD. If however, the jangling transition from farcical to fierce and back was not intentional, then AvN belongs in the relative obscurity in which I found it. Never have I teetered on the edge between loving and hating a film as much as I do now. It's quite infuriating, really.

Ever been so mad you squished an alien slug-baby?

Now for the all-important question: would I recommend this film? Well, that's just it- I genuinely don't know! It's certainly Bad Movie Night fodder, one way or the other, but the question is whether you're just looking to rip on something low-budget or want to genuinely enjoy the "This is the movie I'm making, if you don't like it find a dick and suck it" school of cinematography. I guess my recommendation is this: try it. See if you can make head or tails of it. There's every chance, if you're a bad movie buff, that you'll like it. If not, well, there's another movie to tear apart with your friends.

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