DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear Blu-ray Review

Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear (2013) Blu-ray cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Ninja: Shadow of a Tear

Video Debut: December 31, 2013 / Running Time: 95 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Isaac Florentine / Writer: David White (screenplay); Andy Hurst, Boaz Davidson (movie Ninja)

Cast: Scott Adkins (Casey Bowman), Kane Kosugi (Nakabara), Shun Sugata (Goro), Mika Hijii (Namiko), Mukesh Bhatt (Mukay Shibshakab Prosad "Mike" Yongmingfan), Vithaya Pansringarm (General Sung), Tim Man (Myat), Jawed El Berni (Lucas), Saichia Wongwirot (Suu), Shogo Tanikawa (Assistant Instructor), Futoshi Hashimoto (Toji), Charlie Ruedpokanon (Thug #1), Patrick Tang (Thug #2)

1.78:1 Widescreen / Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English), Dolby Stereo 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish / Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Suggested Retail Price: $24.98
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25) / Blue Keepcase
Also available on DVD ($19.98 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video

Buy Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear from Amazon.com: Blu-ray DVD Instant Video

Missed the first Ninja? Don't worry. I did too and was easily able to follow its sequel, Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear, with no indication whatsoever that I was missing out on some critical backstory.

The director, producer and star of a minor 2010 direct-to-video movie reunite here to show us further adventures in the life of Casey Bowman (Scott Adkins),
an American in Japan who has mastered the martial arts and puts them to use when needed. A respected sensei at the Koga Dojo, Casey is also a loving husband to Namiko (Mika Hijii), who's expecting their first child. Running out in the middle of the night to fulfill Namiko's pregnant cravings for Black Thunder Chocolate and seaweed, Casey returns home to find her throat slit by barbed wire chain.

He quickly finds the young hoods he believes responsible and destroys them, but there's more to Namiko's death. At the encouragement of his senpai Nakabara (Kane Kosugi), the mourning widower journeys to Thailand, where he trains at Nakabara's dojo and tries to get his burning rage under control with a fire walk. Upon learning from Nakabara that his wife's death may have been the settling of an old score, a vengeful Casey shuns better judgment and makes the trip to Myanmar (formerly Burma). There, he intends to track down Goro (Shun Sugata), the feared boss of a drug cartel, and make him pay for Namiko's death.

Casey Bowman (Scott Adkins) more than holds his own in a Japanese alley fight. Casey (Scott Adkins) prepares to spar with a senior student (Jawed El Berni) at the Thai dojo of his 'senpai' Nakabara (Kane Kosugi).

The only trouble is no one in Myanmar will confess to knowing this Goro, not drug dealers, not the law enforcers who question Casey's curiosity (Only God Forgives' Vithaya Pansringarm), and not even the comic relief taxi driver (Mukesh Bhatt) Casey hires for three days.

Casey Bowman isn't one to give up easily, however. He's the kind of guy who takes on an entire bar after a guy spills a drink on him. Even drugged, he outfights four men with sticks in an alley. Police officers with batons? Please. This guy makes his own deadly weapons from a mashed-up mix of marketplace purchases.

Ninja II exists as a showcase for martial arts action. It is presented with much camera movement and little editing. Adkins, director Isaac Florentine, and fight coordinators seem determined to prove that these athletic moves like triple jump kicks are the real deal. Though super violent, the film features less gore than you might fear. The action is competently staged and shot, so maybe some viewers will enjoy this kind of thing. (It currently holds a respectable 6.2 rating on IMDb, though only from 1,800 users whose viewership seems easy to doubt or classify as illegal downloads.) Personally, I get more excitement from story and characters, areas where this is lacking.

Elusive Burmese drug kingpin Goro (Shun Sugata) likes to sling barbed wire chain. The closest thing to a friend that Casey makes in Myanmar is the chatty, friendly cab driver Mike (Mukesh Bhatt.

Adkins seems like a stuntman given a lead role. In fact, though he's got four listings in the stunts section of his IMDb filmography (three of them uncredited),
he has a pretty substantial body of acting work that includes the likes of Zero Dark Thirty, The Expendables 2, and The Bourne Ultimatum. Adkins does an admirable job of disguising his native English accent. He's less skilled at emoting. Lucky for him, the movie gives him little of that. Casey's a stoic warrior who barely winces at some hot iron torture from Burmese officers.

You may very well find it bizarre that an obscure, not terribly popular movie could elicit a sequel, but then there are all kinds of niches in film. Producer Boaz Davidson, who also co-wrote the original, is not a man who sits idle. He makes up to twelve movies a year, some like The Expendables and Olympus Has Fallen rather high profile and many others (e.g. this and the Travolta/De Niro film Killing Season), much less so. Davidson was also involved in the first sequel of what has come to be Adkins and Florentine's other action franchise, Undisputed, which has prompted clamor for a fourth installment.

Ninja II isn't aiming for awards or sales records. It's simply trying to meet a demand for old school martial arts action in a way that pleases the audience for it. Earning its 2013 release date on the last day of the year, the film premiered on DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday from Millennium Entertainment, where Davidson serves as head of development and creative affairs.

VIDEO and AUDIO

Ninja II probably has a low budget, but it's tough to tell that from its stellar 1.78:1 Blu-ray transfer. The picture stays sharp and cinematic from the moment the film transitions from its opening vintage newsreel and aged black & white footage into the present-day.

The default Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack is equally commendable. The engaging action mix uses the soundfield wisely and to nice effect. Much of the movie's dialogue is not in English; words spoken in Japanese and other Asian tongues are translated by burned-in subtitle. Some of the international cast's heavy accents may have you consulting the English SDH subtitle track on occasion too, provided you actually care about the words and aren't just watching for the fight sequences.

Actress Mika Hijii is the lone feminine voice featured in the Cast & Crew Interviews. Scott Adkins and a castmate rehearse a sword fight on the set of "Ninja: Shadow of a Tear."

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Extras, disappointingly presented in standard definition unless otherwise noted, begin with an EPK featurette (7:15) which has cast and crew define and celebrate what it is they're doing.

Cast & Crew Interviews (12:36) serves up snippets from the on-camera sessions sampled in the above. We hear from director Isaac Florentine, actors Scott Adkins, Kane Kosugi,
and Mika Hijii and producers Boaz Davidson and Frank DeMartini, none of whom are identified here, even though their comments are prefaced by screens that list the clip's topic and runtime.

"Behind the Scenes" (5:23) simply strings together short clips of fly-on-the-set B-roll from stunt rehearsal and filming, not narrated or interrupted by talking heads.

Finally, the Previews menu kindly adds Ninja II's trailer (1:24, HD) to the four that automatically play at disc insertion, for Parkland, As I Lay Dying, Charlie Countryman and Hell Baby.

The menu plays faint clips behind the cover art pose. Unfortunately, this disc neither supports bookmarks, nor resumes playback, a consumer-unfriendly authoring flaw I hope Millennium soon corrects.

No slipcover or inserts join the plain blue keepcase.

Casey (Scott Adkins) gets a number of flying kicks in in the big finale fight against Nakabara (Kane Kosugi) of "Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

If your idea of a good movie is men fighting one another for extended periods of time, then by all means check out Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear. Its action and stunts genuinely impress and the film is less stupid and more story-oriented than my low expectations anticipated. Nonetheless, this is a movie for people who don't generally like film. People who enjoy watching mixed martial arts, for instance, might find it thrilling. Those who consider film a medium for storytelling probably won't find much of interest here.

Millennium's Blu-ray serves up a first-rate feature presentation and a decent half-hour of extras, but I can't even come close to recommending this platter. Having said that, it doesn't seem to need my recommendation with its rising sales rank and array of enthusiastic 5-star reviews on Amazon.

Buy Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear from Amazon.com: Blu-ray / DVD / Instant Video

Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
New: Sweetwater Hell Baby Insidious: Chapter 2 | Vithaya Pansringarm: Only God Forgives The Hangover Part II
Hero Zero Dark Thirty Lone Wolf McQuade Tropic Thunder Dragon
Shanghai Noon Around the World in 80 Days Rush Hour 3 The Spy Next Door The Karate Kid (2010)

DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

DVDizzy.com Top Stories:

Reviewed January 4, 2014.



Text copyright 2014 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2013 Millennium Films, Nu Images, Swingin' Productions, N2 Productions, and
Millennium Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.