Every time I sit down to write one of these bad movie reviews, I find myself coming up with a new analogy for the concept of my bad movie nights in general. This week, it’s being an army of faceless miners with pickaxes, picking through an infinitely towering pile of refuse. More often than not, the pile collapses and our spirits are crushed by what we found and watched. Last week, we dug up quite the film affair: an unholy matrimony of ridiculous martial arts films and campy sci-fi. It goes by the name “Alien vs. Ninja,” and it is a riot.
Produced by Seiji Chiba, “Alien vs. Ninja” is the story of three ninjas from the Iga School of Ninjustu, whose adventures to protect their village has them defending against threats that are mainly terrestrial. Ninjas from the rival ninjustu school of Koga encroach on Iga territory and are summarily cut off from existence via bladed means. Upon dispatching their foes, we gain more details on our protagonists as they see a ball of fire go across the sky.
Yamata is a prodigious ninja, with the problem of taking on too much in battle. Jinnai is a ninja with the deadly skill of having screen time and being ineffectual with it. Finally, we have Nezumi, a ninja who has the following qualities essential to being a ninja: being overweight, an insufferable coward, a pervert, and comic relief. If it weren’t for the fact that he’s an inventor, I’d easily hazard a guess he’d have been cut down by now by his comrades. We learn about these three characters just as they are ordered to investigate this mysterious fire in the sky.
The band of two-and-a-half wits eventually join up with another group of Iga ninjas, led by our fourth protagonist, Rin. They find a boy who is distraught and suddenly hear the screams of something unworldly. One ninja is pulled underground, only to be summarily exploded back up to the surface, like a gore volcano. One by one, the ninjas who weren’t given a name are killed off, including one whose death was very noteworthy.
As his name-given comrades try to pull him up from being taken underground, they eventually do pull him up alive. However, everything from the waist down is nothing but his skeleton, and he—understandably—perishes. While I was watching these redshirt ninjas be eradicated, I realized my jaw was wide open. At this point, I realized I was enjoying myself.
The film cemented my feelings of enjoyment when they killed off Nezumi. Suddenly, the band of three is now more competent, and they set off to find the monster. Meanwhile, the monster is creating more spawn. Out of its abnormal skull, tiny little spawns teeter out and take over the corpses of previously slain ninjas. Shortly after, the alien returns and kidnaps Jinnai, prompting Rin and Yamata to attempt to rescue him.
This leads to the semi-final battle with the reanimated and turned forces of the alien, with Jinnai complementing their ranks. Rin and Yamata do battle against their current and former comrades, finding out how to kill the spawn and free the bodies of their control. After a very comical struggle to free Jinnai, Yamata heads off to fight the alien. The alien and Yamata engage in probably the most unintentionally hilarious fight scene I’ve seen in a long time. A ninja and an alien fighting each other with katanas is certainly a sight to see. It’s made even better when the alien takes hold of Yamata’s weapon, a gun made by Nezumi.
According to the late Nezumi, he didn’t have many bullets for the strange, not-firearm-looking gun. The final fight showed this to be completely untrue as the alien fires countless rounds at our hero Yamata. Yamata dodges them with some trouble, but as the fight escalates, the alien soon finds himself in a losing position. The alien sprouts wings and flies into the sky with Yamato hanging on to finish him off. Attaching a bomb he happened to have, Yamato jumps off the alien as it explodes in the sky.
“Alien vs. Ninja” could easily be described as a guilty pleasure. I don’t believe it deserves the guilty designation, however. Sure, there is really no story other than what is necessary to facilitate the fights between terrestrial and off-world entities, yet what this movie lacks in plot it more than makes up in over-the-top martial arts and just plain fun. Just tolerate Nesumi until his final scene. It will only get better.