Top Ten Ninja Films
It was in the early eighties that the Ninja movie really reached its peak in the west, although it had been a fully fledged part of Japanese movie lore since the early sixties. Thus when it comes to discussing Ninja movies, adjectives like 'the best' are somewhat moot, since some of the most enjoyable Ninja movies are also quite rightly claimed to be the most terrible movies of all time, in a very special eighties kind of way.
Those who know their Ninja movies know that films like Ninja Terminator (85) have so much more to offer than you'd expect, as does Ninja III: The Domination (84), about an aerobics instructor possessed by an evil Ninja. But what even constitutes a Ninja movie - does it have to be all about Ninjas - or does it just have to have a high Ninja 'factor'. Is someone who is a trained martial arts assassin a Ninja? Or do they have to wear the pyjamas and carry shuriken (throwing stars) and smoke bombs to qualify? We've gone for a happy medium, covering all aspects of the Ninja movie, from the farce, the so bad it's good, the actually quite good and the stone cold classic. So all those lovers of movies like Blazing Ninja, To Catch A Ninja, Bionic Ninja, Pray For Death and Full Metal Ninja, please have patience. And just this once, throw the Tomatometer out the window. Critical reaction has no baring on what makes Ninja goodness.
10. Shinobi No Mono (1962)
Shinobi No Mono is generally considered the film that popularised the Ninja on the big screen. It is also the film that Roald Dahl watched to get inspiration when writing the screenplay of You Only Live Twice. Known in english as 'The Ninjas', this is the film that can be used as an introduction to the newbies. It has several staples of the genre, including skulking about, poison, throwing things at people, lethal sword work and 'the code' of the Ninja. It's also in black and white and features fairly 'broad' acting, but if you come to the Ninja film with good acting in mind, take a step to the left and check out Kurosawa movies that give you martial arts and good acting.
9. You Only Live Twice (69%)
Obviously this is stretching it a bit, but when you finish off your movie with a gigantic Ninja battle (albeit with submachine guns), you make the grade. Quite possibly the most well known Full Ninja Moment of all time appears in this James Bond classic - the 'thread of poison'. A stealthy Ninja attempt to kill Sean Connery with a gooey trickle of poison that spools down a string of cotton goes wrong - our hero turns away and his beautiful bride Aki takes the taste - of death..
8. The Octagon (20%)
Chuck Norris, Lee Van Cleef - and Ninjas! This is a variant of the Ninja movie where the hero must face Ninja hordes, rather than being part of them himself. This features a pre-Missing In Action Norris, with expected acting skills. Rather hazy and complex in its plotting, this features the rarest of film devices - a Chuck Norris voice over! Requires tequila for full enjoyment. Rounded out by cheesy magazine style photography and excellent fight scenes, this is a must for the perverse.