How often does a film truly deliver on its premise? The very title of Alien vs. Ninja makes a promise to the audience that aliens and ninjas will go head-to-head in the film. Now I know what you’re thinking: this is a Japanese b-movie, surely there is a musical number or some boring melodrama getting in the way of all that ninja on alien action, right? Normally, that would probably be the case, but Alien vs. Ninja live up to its title; dispensing with things like character development and story, the film is squarely focused on awesome, unbridled ninja versus extraterrestrial action.
Spoilers to follow.
A group of ninjas are returning home to their village after a successful mission when the witness a ball of fire fall from the sky. They report the sighting to their superior and are then tasked with investigating the mysterious object. As you have probably already guessed, the object is carrying a highly aggressive alien with the ability to quickly reproduce. The ninjas are cunning but outmatched, they must put aside their differences if they are to defeat the alien threat.
The main cast of ninjas are familiar archetypes: there’s the bad ass, the pretty boy, the fool and the girl. All have their own specialties and abilities that set them apart from the no-name ninja who are quickly made alien-fodder. The alien is a man-in-suit Kaiju design which looks like a cross between a velociraptor and and a rip off of H.R. Giger’s xenomorph from the Alien franchise. You need to suspend your disbelief and just enjoy the movie: the alien suit rubbery and fake looking, but very much in the cheesy spirit of the film. Similarly, the ninjas impossibly agile and are decked out with more blades, gadgets and weaponry than they could ever actually fit on their bodies.
The fight choreography in the film is very impressive thanks to the work of Yuji Shimomura, the man behind the action in Versus and Shinobi. The fight scenes turn what would otherwise be a campy Ultraman or Power Rangers style battle into something that is truly impressive to behold. The film does not skimp on action, in fact the entire movie is basically just one giant action scene that does not let up.
The final battle is a campy, over-the-top spectacle set to a rollicking J-Pop song which doesn’t feel out of place in the slightest. By this point in the film the audience has already seen everything: ninja versus samurai, ninja versus ninja, ninja versus zombie-ninja, ninja versus alien and even ninja versus effeminate fat ninja. Alien vs. Ninja doesn’t take itself too seriously, so it’s very easy to just sit back and enjoy the hilarious carnage. There is no pretension here, just pure, unabashed fun… and tons of ninjas fighting aliens!