Shinobi: Heart Under Blade (Japan 2005)

Rating: **
Review Date: 10/2/11
Cast: Yukie Nakama, Joe Odagiri, Erika Sawajiri

About as boring and mundane as the last "Shinobi" movie I saw, this film features another couple of doomed lovers from rival ninja clans who are forced to fight each other by the emperor. Gennosuke (Joe Odagiri) is the idealistic and overly sentimental one who goes to the emperor to challenge his order, while Oboro (pretty Yukie Nakama) quietly suffers and resigns herself to her fate as the new leader of her clan. Lots of classic anime styled ninja silliness is on display, but the film suffers greatly from its over-reliance on digital tomfoolery and none of it is convincing or even marginally interesting. The acting is completely flat and strapped with a pretentious tone of self importance, which just comes across as tacky. Joe Odagiri is a totally lifeless lead, but thankfully there are plenty of other characters to pick up the slack. Yukie Nakama is very pretty to look at, but she only has one look and her range is extremely limited. I used to be a fan of Erika Sawajiri's modeling work, so it was exciting to see her in the film. Unfortunately, she suffers from a terrible haircut and has very little to do. On the plus side, the film's sets and locations look beautiful, and the costuming is detailed and colorful. It's just a shame that the action and drama fall short.