Not Coming to a Theater Near You Two-Thousand Eleven In Review

July Third Two-Thousand Eleven

by Leo Goldsmith If 13 Assassins is Takashi Miike’s Ultimate Samurai Film – a triumph of rigorous formalism, methodically performed ritual, exhilarating, inventive, and voluminous bloodletting, and, finally, a healthy dose of feel-bad moralism – then Ninja Kids!!! is its annoying farty, snot-nosed, ramen-slurping little brother. Based on the hugely popular anime TV series, starring a dozen or so pre-tween cherubs in ninja outfits, and rife with dog-poop gags, idiotic non-sequiturs, and patently fake and spatially implausible sets, Miike’s other 2011 film is a refreshing return to the more ecstatic, hare-brained style of Happiness of the Katakuris and Zebraman. Candy-colored where Assassins is bullet-gray, irreverent rather than genre-bound, rapturous rather than ponderous, Ninja Kids!!! had its world premiere at the New York Asian Film Festival this year and, as far as I know, won’t make it much further in the US. But given Takashi Miike’s extraordinary output – which makes his buddy Tarantino look lazy indeed – it’s rather difficult to keep up with him anyway. He’s already finished several other films, including a screen adaptation of Nintendo’s Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.

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