08th May2014

‘Ninja: Shadow of a Tear’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Scott Adkins, Mika Hijii, Kane Kosugi, Shun Sugata, Vithaya Pansringarm, Mukesh Bhatt, Tim Man, Jawed El BerniSaichia Wongwirot, Shogo Tanikawa, Futoshi Hashimoto | Written by David N. White | Directed by Isaac Florentine


I’m a huge fan of 2009’s Ninja, as my signed Blu-ray will atest, so it’s safe to say I was super-excited for the UK release of the sequel Ninja: Shadow of a Tear. Whereas the first film saw Scott Adkins titular hero Casey Bowman using his ninjutsu skills on the streets of New York, this film sees Casey return home from some late night shopping to find someone has brutally killed his wife Namiko (Mika Hijii) and their unborn child. Bereft, Casey has only one thing left to live for… revenge.

The only clues to Namiko’s killer are the barbed wire marks left around her neck. So, with the help of his trusted friend Nakabara (Kane Kosugi), the trail sends Casey from Osaka to Bangkok to the jungles of Rangoon in search of the assassin. Honing his battle skills to a new level, Casey is as discreet as he is deadly, becoming a warrior that truly deserves the title of ninja.

For fans of the genre there’s one thing that’s truly satisfying about Ninja: Shadow of a TearIts sheer old-school feel.

Maybe it’s the foreign setting of Myanmar, or the fish-out-of-water scenarios Casey finds himself in (there’s a particular sequence in a bar that reminded me a lot of THAT bar scene in Kickboxer, sans dancing of course), or maybe it’s the re-appearance of gratuitous 18-rated violence that was so prevalent during the 80s heyday of action movies? Whatever it is, I bloody loved it and I guarantee action movie aficionados will too!

This time round you can clearly see Adkins has been putting in a huge effort behind the scenes to hone his skills. He uses a wealth of weaponry alongside his usual physical prowess and there’s not one moment when anything he does is anything less than utterly believable – which cannot be said of some other big-name action stars working today.

Even for Adkins this is a step up in his martial arts performance, easily surpassing that in the original movie. In particular, there’s a brief scene towards the end of the film in which Adkins stick-work,for the brief time it appears, rivals that of Jeff Speakman’s stick work in The Perfect Weapon, which (as an long-time action movie fan and a particular evangelist of that film) is something I never thought I would see…

You really have to give credit to director Isaac Florentine, he is [seemingly] single-handedly keeping up the long standing tradition of the mid-to-low budget martial arts film that was, throughout the 80s, the mainstay of the likes of Cannon Films. And like Cannon who made stars of the likes of Michael Dudikoff and Chuck Norris, Florentine has found his “star” in Scott Adkins. The British born hard-man, who began his career in the likes of BBC’s daytime serial Doctors, first teamed up with Florentine for the direct to DVD sequel Undisputed 2 – charming fans so much that his “villainous” character was made the hero of the third film in the franchise – and since then has never looked back, carving a name for himself as one of the best action stars of the decade (even if he is under-appreciated by the so-called “mainstream”).

Ninja: Shadow of a Tear is by far one of the best examples of the modern action movie. Not ashamed to go for the jugular (literally in this case) in its pursuit of bone-crunching, neck-slicing, action, the film is at once a flashback to a [sadly] bygone era of action cinema and the precursor to what *could* be a new golden age. As I say each and every time when watching a Scott Adkins flick – someone in Hollywood needs to craft a big-budget, no holds barred, action-packed star vehicle for the man. And soon.

Ninja: Shadow of a Tear is released on DVD and Blu-ray on May 12th, courtesy of Lionsgate.

***** 5/5

One Response to “‘Ninja: Shadow of a Tear’ Review”

  • charles philip lehrer

    Isaac Florentine is a very well known Shito-Ryu teacher in Israel.
    That`s why his fight films are so authentic. He knows what he`s doing.