Red Blade (Japan 2018)

Rating: **
Review Date: 4/27/19
Cast: Yuka Ogura, Kanon Hanakage, Himena Tsukimiya, Tak Sakaguchi, Joey Iwanaga

Mako (Yuka Ogura) is an unpopular girl who gets bullied at school because her mind tends to wander. One night, she takes a ninja picture book home from the library and dreams of becoming a kunoichi. Through some sort of magic, two cute ninja girls named Hiro (Himena Tsukimiya) and Yu (Kanon Hanakage) whisk Mako away to the past and teach her the arts of ninjutsu under the supervision of a great samurai warrior named Saizo (Tak Sakaguchi). When she returns to present day, Saizo's mortal enemy shows up, and everyone else time travels to the present as well. Sure, why not? This results in a huge modern day ninja showdown, as Mako dons her custom school-girl kunoichi uniform. The movie literally ends with an explosion. Boom! That's it. Roll the credits!

At first I got lead actress Yuka Ogura confused with Yuko Ogura, who was a glamour model in the 1990's. They are definitely NOT the same person. Yuka is a decent actress, and I give her a great amount of credit for doing a lot of her own stunt work. Tak Sakaguchi is a great fighter and his opening fight scene is arguably the highlight of the movie. He's the real deal and his hard-hitting style reminds me of a modern day Sonny Chiba. Unfortunately, while the choreography and execution are quite good, the camera work is infuriating and most of the action is lost due to bad cinematography. The girls are quite energetic and fun to watch, and Joey Iwanaga makes an excellent adversary. His moves are fast, powerful, and graceful. A particularly odd aspect of the action is that puffs of colored smoke erupt out of the bad guys whenever they're hit. It doesn't make any sense and it's very distracting. The production values are mediocre at best, the music is bland and uninspired, and the pacing drags between fight scenes. I'm sure the lack of subtitles didn't help in that regard. I found it to be a marginally entertaining outing, but instantly forgettable.