A gritty portrayal of a ninja’s doomed life, Kamui Gaiden invites you to view these shadowy assassins as they historically were.
I wasn’t familiar with Kamui prior to watching this movie in 2009. But I did know of the Izuna Drop, from the Ninja Gaiden game series. Catching this killer move in live-action was what lured me to a screening.
The end-effect wasn’t too satisfactory, I regret to say. Hard for me to pinpoint exactly what was wrong with those quick sequences; it just doesn’t feel real overall. The rest of the fights, thankfully, were much more satisfactory. Particularly Kamui’s mirage slash. The always reliable Matsuyama Kenichi also does a splendid job of portraying the brooding, distrustful renegade ninja. Kamui’s paranoia and anguish stare at you in the face throughout the movie. This is the polar opposite of L. Equally as lethal, but wholly lacking in conviction and confidence.
One other element worth mentioning about Kamui Gaiden is how the movie retained the unglamourous feel of the manga version. I think it’s well-known nowadays that historical ninjas were not costume-clad superheroes, but the tendency to portray them that way in mass media still dominates. Including in Japanese productions. Of course, Kamui’s supernatural abilities openly borrows from this misconception, but overall, the ugliness of a ninja’s life is effectively emphasized. This is one movie that encourages you to not want to be a ninja. Instead of the usual otherwise.
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