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Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear(2013)
Ninjitsu master Casey is back and out for revenge when his pregnant wife is murdered.
For more about Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear and the Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear Blu-ray release, see Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on December 16, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Director: Isaac Florentine
Starring: Scott Adkins, Mika Hijii, Kane Kosugi, Tim Man, Shun Sugata, Vithaya Pansringarm
» See full cast & crew
Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear Blu-ray Review
II good for DTV.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, December 16, 2013
The filmmakers behind Ninja II just get it. It's not a perfect movie, but it comes pretty close to perfection in the realm of the direct-to-video Action flick. Director Isaac Florentine (Ninja, Undisputed III: Redemption) has before proven his mettle as a filmmaker of way-better-than-average DTV movies (not a very high bar to overcome, to be sure), packing them with robust Action and a straightforward, no-frills plot that's merely a frame for the beat-em-up antics that he photographs, and his actors perform, so well. The movie is stylish without feeling forced, hard-hitting, and nicely acted. It's a treat for fans who crave only the fundamentals done right in their DTV flicks, and it's a perfect example of just what this variety of film can be when it fires on all cylinders: a simply entertaining beat-em-up escape.
When a martial arts master named Casey Bowman (Scott Adkins) makes a late-night grocery run to satisfy his pregnant wife Namiko's (Mika Hijii) cravings, he returns home to find her brutally murdered. With the help of his friend and senpai Nakabara (Kane Kosugi), he travels to Myanmar on a mission of revenge against the men he believes killed his wife and child. Along the way, he comes to learn that the story goes much deeper than he's been led to believe, leading to a revelation that will forever reshape his life.
Sure, Ninja II is built around a tired revenge plot, but much of the film's beauty comes from its simplicity. There are no opportunities for the movie to needlessly expand its scope or over-complicate matters. It's driven to accomplish one thing, and that's to dazzle its audience with plenty of fast, exciting martial arts action, which it does with much success. Along the way, the picture does naturally and not pretentiously build up the emotional center of its story and its lead character, capable of doing so because there's no hazy middle ground for the film to traverse, just a basic journey through basic emotions, the former rather linear and the latter even contextually satisfying. The film breaks no new ground, and many others have gone where it goes, but that doesn't prevent it from going about things in the right way and delivering just the sort of movie fans of this style crave.
Actor Scott Adkins holds his own throughout the movie, certainly dazzling with his martial arts prowess but also showing an admirable ability to expand beyond the physical expectations of the part and grow the character from loving husband and would-be father to revenge-minded bad guy killer. The film asks its lead only to remain grounded in a believable fighting style, to demonstrate incredible skill with his bare hands and feet and, at times, with a weapon. There are no cartoonish fight scenes or moments that push the limits of believability. That the film remains true to its actors' skills and relies on their knowledge and formidable execution of martial arts rather than a bunch of wires and digital effects and phony fight scenes is one of its strengths, another factor in its "less is more" formula for success. Adkins' co-stars are rather good, too, most of them, again, playing one dimensional parts but getting the most out of the roles without hamming it up or trying to build something that the movie doesn't need.
Technically, the film proves a major success, again because of its simplicity. The film isn't fully reliant on lightning-fast edits, camera whiplash, or any sort of hyperrealism. Director Isaac Florentine allows the actors to set the pace and tone, framing them and their battles and allowing their own skill and movement to dictate the film's speed. It's a welcome departure from movies that are so scatterbrained and so bent on showing everything from every angle and with every available speed that it becomes almost impossible to get a grasp of what the actors are doing and enjoy the skill with which they do it. It's that skill, and the audience's ability to actually see it in all its glory, that helps push Ninja II into the upper-crust of direct-to-video Action films and make it one of the better overall Action films of 2013.
Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear Blu-ray, Video Quality
Ninja II looks terrific on Blu-ray. The image offers consistently even and well-defined details, particularly on faces but also on a wide assortment of elements, from tree vegetation to dense urban city textures, from clothing to wood flooring. Clarity is outstanding and there's a constant, even sharpness to the image. Colors are robust throughout. Bright green foliage nicely stands apart, as do any number of shades in city shots, particularly in the convenience store where Casey buys his wife chocolate and seaweed. Black levels are rock-solid, showing no crush even when black clothes are set against nighttime backdrops. Flesh tones appear even throughout. The HD video source does show a slight flatness at times, but there are no major instances of noise, banding, or other issues. This is a great image from Millennium Entertainment.
Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Ninja II slashes onto Blu-ray with a potent and exciting Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack. The track replays a good, room-filling, but light sound of a whirring projector at the beginning and continues to offer positive ambient effects throughout, particularly in busy city areas near film's start. Some of the more prominent environmental effects prove very well constructed and delivered, notably at an open-air market and at an airport exterior that begins the second act. Musical delivery is excellent. Clarity is strong, spacing is even and pleasant, and surround support is ideal. Action scenes enjoy big, robust effects, whether fists and feet impacting flesh or swords clanking one against another. The film is also home to a good bit of gunfire and a few potent explosions later on. Dialogue plays evenly and accurately from the center. This robust tracks supports the movie very well in every important area of concern.
Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Ninja II contains three short, basic supplements.
Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Ninja II is a poster child for the DTV Action film done right. Great action, a simple story, terrific fight choreography, and basic direction give shape to an entertaining movie that's a welcome reprieve from the brooding, needlessly complex DTV Action pictures that are today flooding the market. Millennium's Blu-ray release of Ninja II features great video and audio. A few supplements are included. Recommended.
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Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray: December 31-January 7 - December 29, 2013
For the week of December 31st, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment streets Joseph Gordon-Levitt's wonderful Don Jon on Blu-ray. Other titles include Millennium Home Entertainment's Hell Baby and Ninja II, and Sony's Insidious: Chapter 2.
• Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear Blu-ray - November 6, 2013
Millennium Media will bring to Blu-ray Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear (2013) starring Scott Adkins, Kane Kosugi, Vithaya Pansringarm, Tim Man, Mika Hijii, and Shun Sugata. The release will be available for purchase online and in stores across the nation on December ...
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