Ninja Wars (Japan 1982)

Rating: **
Cast: Hiroyuki Sanada, Noriko Watanabe, Sonny Chiba

Okay, I need some help with this one. This is a bizarre big budget samurai/ninja flick featuring pop idol Hiroyuki Sanada as a ninja named Jotaro who's on a quest for revenge. We find out that his ninja girlfriend has a twin sister of royal lineage (super cute Noriko Watanabe in a dual role), and she is the target of a nasty feudal lord and his five demon monks. You see, whoever steals the twin sister from her husband and wins her heart will someday rule the world. Of course, many dastardly plans are put into motion to make this happen, including the rape of Jotaro's girlfriend to extract the tears necessary to make a powerful aphrodesiac for the lord. Uh-huh. This goes terribly wrong, and the young ninja girl cuts off her own head in defiance. But the demon monks save her by swapping her severed head with the head of the lord's favorite concubine, resulting in much confusion about who's who (and which part is more representative of the original personality - the head or the heart?). After surviving a brush with death at the hands of an acid vomitting demon monk (with an afro, no less), Jotaro learns the awful truth and attempts to save both sisters and avenge them. An awesome Sonny Chiba shows up as an intense ninja leader to save the day, but at the climax of the film Jotaro and the royal twin get whisked away into some other dimension where they demonstrate their love for each other while being burned alive on a cross! Come on, someone help me out here! The film is very good looking, with lavish set pieces and exciting action sequences. The acting appears to be very good, but the English dubbing is SO horrible that it severely detracts from the film. Additionally, I think the English version may be heavily cut, resulting in much of the needlessly confusing continuity problems. A slow starter, but it really pays off in the action scenes.