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Red Shadow: Akakage (JAPAN 2001)

Director : Hiroyuki Nakano
Cast :  Masanobu Ando, Megumi Okina, Kumiko Aso, Jun Murakami, Naoto Takenaka, Fimiya Fujii and Shuuhei Mainoumi.

Aka Kage, Aoi Kage and Asuka are trio of ninjas sent to perform dangerous secret missions for their master. Although Aka and Aoi are both in love with Asuka, the friendship built from their years of training together prevents any jealousies from forming. When Asuka is killed during a mission, however, the heartbroken Aka and Aoi both go their separate ways before returning to avenge their friend’s death.

by Edward Tang

Well, I guess I should start out by saying that this is a corny flick that truly never takes us anywhere special or unique. So in what aspects can this film be saved from being a horrible piece of shit that everyone should stay away from. The story? I’m afraid the story is choppy and full of holes, as we skip from scene to scene, not really getting anywhere, and ending up in a cliche-ridden shithouse with no sink.

The acting? Basically sub-par work, the actors read their lines and truly did not know how to handle humor, as some of those parts were just plain embarrassing. The comedy aspects? I did not laugh once at this film even through it’s numerous attempts by kicking people in the nuts and tripping over shit where the actor gets up and looks all silly! This film isn’t funny, maybe it wasn’t even suppose to, but it tried hard with stupid scenes that were truly nothing interesting. The action? There’s a lack of action, especially considering this film is labeled under the genre “martial arts” on the DVD box. The fights consist of a bunch of jumping around, and messy camera angles to distract the viewer from seeing the crap clearly. Come to think of it, there really isn’t anything that makes this film special.

The story folds out like this, we get three idiot ninjas. They go on a bunch of missions, one of the ninjas dies. This happens to be the girl that both dudes have a massive erection that can’t be fulfilled by the normal requirements. So one ninja disbands, while the other continues his work and eventually joins up with a princess to protect her. He learns later that people want her dead, and since he cares about her oh so much, he has to protect her! So then, cue the corny ending with two morons running onto a beach. Frankly, the flick moved like shit. There’d be numerous scenes that wouldn’t amount to anything. In the beginning, they give this background on metal that has fallen to the Earth and is the most powerful metal in the world. That’s about it on that, it just was there and didn’t cease to annoy me. The film was very choppy, they’d jet around and we would be introduced to characters quickly, and in a later scenes, we wouldn’t have a clue who they were.

For the most part, I was bored throughout this film. Sure, there was some attempted comedy that could only muster a trip to the crapper, but there were only a few scenes that were actually interesting. The entire plot revolved around these ninjas and then out of the blue, we were given something about a girl rising up to power and taking her father’s position. Then to avoid war, she pretended to have a tank. Yeah, and sink your caps around this, she has tube-like slide in her abode. WTF? Just a bunch of crap thrown in to further piss me off. Sure the story was simple once I got who the characters were, but for some time I just watched uninterested. As for the direction, it was solid as in Samurai Fiction but is basically wasted. Sure I like seeing beautiful scenery, but for fucks sake I get the idea. Don’t even get me started on the score, one of the riffs had a Mission Impossible sound to it, that reminded me of it immediately.

As for the action scenes, I wouldn’t write home about any of them. For the most part, it’s a bunch of talking, with a bunch of small sword movements that don’t do anything for me, considering this film doesn’t really have anything going for it. As I’m thinking right now, I can’t even remember if there was an actual sword fight, because what I remember is a guy throwing NUMEROUS ninja stars at one guy, which looks pretty cool, then they overdo the fu*ckin’ thing to the point of: I GET THE POINT, YOU CAN BLOCK THE STARS, WELCOME TO CARL’S JR. I’m just letting out the steam from the view, it was 108 minutes too long. To mention another thing, the final scenes that include the Traitor and the ninja in a small duel is just horribly done, I wasn’t expecting anything after watching SF and getting basic action, but they could have stolen Yuen Wo Ping and made some shit look like gold. The bottom line is that the action is crap, which in turn makes the film crap because their is nothing in the film that can overtake the crappy action scenes.

As for the cast of flunkies, most do their part to a key. Take the main character, an eager lad who has a crush on a girl who dies. He’s a GREAT ninja, who makes a bunch of bad choices but does eventually save the day. I’ll tell you of the effect he had on the film: there were two male ninjas and I couldn’t tell them apart unless they were in full ninja gear and wearing the different colors. That’s it, well done in that aspect son, I can see you at the top as we speak. Make sure that you enjoy that top spot with the villains, all cocky and nothing to show for it. Hell, there was even a villain who couldn’t stop laughing, his quasi-evil laugh that seems forced like a bitch. I don’t know, it seemed like everyone was equally average and nothing that could really pass this film off into the serious category. I swear to God that this film seemed to be two different things all together. The beginning seemed somewhat up beat and happy, then when the girl gets the ax, everything is just crappy and boring.

I happen to have excellent judgment when it comes to films of this caliber. Do not bill a film as “MARTIAL ARTS” when it should be billed as “CAN’T TAKE SERIOUS ENOUGH TO ENJOY, FILLED WITH LOUSY ACTION, ONE DIMENSIONAL CHARACTERS AND A CHOPPY STORY THAT TOTALLY F*CKS UP ANY GOOD TIME YOU COULD HAVE ON THIS FILM.” I guess it’s a fun film, but if your definition of fun includes scraping of your skull to find dust, this is the film for you. Other than those three people, stay away from this guy and concentrate on some better work from the director.

Plot : 2/5
Acting : 2/5
Entertainment : 2/5
Overall : 2/5

Notable Scenes
- N/A

Buy this movie at  YesAsia – Red Shadow

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