Friday, July 24, 2015

The Ninja War of TORAKAGE (2014) Fantasia 2015

Yoshihiro Nishimura, the mad genius behind TOKYO GORE POLICE and HELLDRIVER returns to movie screens with a ninja film unlike any other ninja film. It also marks his huge step forward as a filmmaker.

The story is framed by Francisco, a Portuguese scholar  who tells us of a great war. The story concerns the hunt for the a gold scroll, which when briught together with another scroll will reveal the location of a treasure. When the head of a ninja clan fails to get the scroll, she forces Torakage, a ninja who left her clan, to take on the job.

If you've seen earlier Nishimura films you can kind of know what to expect, crazy action, gallons of blood, and weird creatures (one has wings made of hands and eyes all over her body). You also get tongue in cheek performances and meta scripts.

What you are not going to be expecting is a huge jump in story telling my Nishimura. I always have loved his craziness and the sense that anything can happen. What I never really liked was that there are times, more than I care to admit where the plot becomes optional. Here there seems to be a plot all the way through- sure there are period cybernetic battle suits and craziness on a huge scale- but there is an actual through line that's rather refreshing.

One of the things that I loved is that Nishimura actually stages many scenes as if these were real events. Previously his films felt like they were movies, here there is sense that if you stripped away the craziness you'd be in a world closer to ours than any of the directors other films. He fillms it with crowds, real locations and small details that give weight to it all. For example a giant mud puddle where the climax occurs is partly red with blood, not during the fight. In previous films that may not have been there,

In the end this is a solid little movie. Its a great film by a director who I've always loved and who seems to be maturing as he goes. Highly recommended for fans of Nishimura and ninja films who don't mind silliness.

The film plays late tonight at Fantasia. For tickets and more information go here.

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