Thursday, January 16, 2014

Film Review: Ninja 2: Shadow of a Tear (2013)

Ninja 2: Shadow of a Tear (Review)
United States/2013
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...makes me wish Scott Adkins were the new Batman."

When his pregnant wife is brutally murdered, a distraught Casey Bowman (Scott Adkins) ends up in Thailand to train at Nakabara's dojo. Casey, however, is haunted by his loss and has a savage thirst for justice...

Ninja 2: Shadow of a Tear continues as Casey tracks his wife's murderer. Fortunately, Thailand has traces of the suspected murderer -- a vicious drug lord held up deep in the jungle. Basically, the story continues to follow Casey as he investigates the drug lord and his location, usually by beating information out of the locals, and preparing for battle in the jungle. A fight scene here, some investigation there, another fight scene, and so on. The final action sequences are fantastic. The ending has an interesting, albeit completely unnecessary, twist; regardless, it offers an opportunity for more action, so I don't fault it.

Ninja 2: Shadow of a Tear is a direct sequel to Ninja. However, you don't really have to watch the first to enjoy the second. It still suffers from some consistency and storytelling issues, but not nearly as much as the first. In fact, this film plays out like a typical revenge film, so it's much more focused. The story is good, and the setting is great. The action sequences, which is what most people will likely watch this for, are great. The fight choreography is great, the fights are smooth yet vicious. From the fistfights to sword-fights, the film's action sequences really hook you. And, there are plenty of action scenes to show off Adkins' incredible skill as a martial artist. I really enjoy the concept of a modern-day ninja, despite only being used during the final act. In fact, it kind of makes me wish Scott Adkins were the new Batman.

Scott Adkins is good as the lead; his character really isn't demanding, but he plays competently and has plenty of charisma. The rest of the cast is also good, nothing really special, though; Vithaya Pansringarm only appears briefly, and he performs well. The fight choreography is great, as I previously stated; the use of slow-motion is well-fitted, and fortunately not overused. The music serves its purpose, but it is forgettable. The film is shot nicely, though, Thailand is a beautiful setting. Isaac Florentine's direction is consistent, much better than the last film in the series.

Overall, Ninja 2: Shadow of a Tear is a great martial arts action film. The story is better than the first film, as is is the storytelling, editing, and action sequences. In fact, it is an overall great improvement over the last. But, it is not without flaws. Those looking for a deep story, great characters, and much more, will like be disappointed. This is an action film at heart, and a successful one.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, and some gore.

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