Ninja II: Die Rückkehr der Ninja (1983)
By: Devon B. on July 15, 2012  | 
DVD
Ascot Elite | Region B | 1.85:1, 1080p | English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 | 90 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Sam Firstenberg
Starring: Sho Kosugi, Keith Vitali, Virgil Frye, Arthur Roberts, Ashley Ferrare, Kane Kosugi
Screenplay: James R. Silke
Country: USA
External Links
IMDB Purchase YouTube
Ninja II: Die Rückkehr der Ninja (AKA Revenge of the Ninja) is kind of a sequel to Ninja – Die Killer-Maschine (AKA Enter the Ninja) because they're both ninja movies that star Sho Kosugi. Kosugi's playing a different character, though, so the storylines are not related.

Ninja II starts with some ninjas doing a daylight attack on Kosugi's home. Despite the fact the ninjas are wearing highly visible red headbands and belts, they get the drop on the family. A baby is hidden from the ninjas, and then Kosugi returns home during the assault. He and a friend dispatch the ninjas, but Kosugi's friend convinces him that he and his remaining family should relocate to America. Kosugi turns his back on his ninja past, and doesn't even want to teach his son the ninja ways. Unfortunately, Kosugi's friend isn't such a good friend after all, and he is up to some dodgy dealings that lead to ninja assassinations. Kosugi is called in to help investigate, and it's a safe bet that he'll have to suit up before the end credits roll.

Ninja II is an improvement on the original film in every way. Now that Franco Nero isn't on hand the fights are much better, and Kosugi gets more screen time so he can do awesome things like catch arrows with his teeth. Sometimes poses are held too long in the fights, and villains still politely wait their turn to attack, but otherwise the choreography is good. Kosugi's son, played by his real life son Kane Kosugi, even gets a few fight scenes. I'm sure these were included so children could idolise Kane, but then there's a scene where Professor Toru Tanaka tries to rape a woman which probably made the film one most children weren't allowed to watch, which makes Kane's fights seem a little oddly placed. Not that odd is a bad thing in a movie like this.

The acting can be a bit rough in places, but most of the time the performances enhance the film's goofy fun. There's some intentional humour that works well, like when a character performs a series of acrobatic moves then lacks the coordination to find a door, which makes me think some of the things in the movie that might seem like unintentional humour are actually tongue-in-cheek jokes. I particularly liked the ninja who must've managed to fit a life size ninja doll in his belt. It's hard to take a movie seriously when it has a nana ninja, but it's also impossible to dislike a movie with a nana ninja. Go ahead and try. See, it's impossible! I'm not sure if it's a joke or not, but clearly none of the Japanese people on set were able to convince the filmmakers that ninjas attack at night. Once again, there's a lot of daytime activity, which makes it seem like ninjutsu is a martial art for people that just prefer to wear black.

Like The Godfather II, The Empire Strikes Back and Weekend at Berny's II, Ninja II is a sequel that is better than the original. People that wanted more genuine ninja action from the first film got what they wanted this time around and the film is better for it. Some of the wacky charm of the original is reigned in, but if the choice is chuckling at Nero or being amazed by Kosugi, I'm going to choose the latter each time.
Video
Ninja II looks sharp, clean and clear with good detail. There're a few spots and specks, but this is a fantastic transfer for a movie of this calibre. I was absolutely delighted with the way the film looked.
Audio
There're German or English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio tracks to choose from. The German track is a bit louder and brighter, with a slightly higher bit rate, but the English track is still a solid presentation of the film's original mix. Even though the film was shot in English, I suspect there was some ADR and dubbing going on since things can sound a bit off in places, but that's no fault of the transfer. There is a tiny bit of distortion on some lines of dialogue, presumably present on the source material, but other than that I found no fault with the English mix.
Extra Features
The trailer and the prequel's trailer. The cover is also reversible and the other side doesn't have the big FSK rating.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Ninja II is a virtually perfect film, hilariously over blowing ninjas' mythical abilities while also showcasing some cool ninja fights. It works as a serious movie or as a send up of a serious movie, and is easily the best in the Ninja series. While this Blu release isn't exactly laden with extras, it offered all that I could've hoped for and more in terms of the transfer, so I'm well pleased with it.

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