Directed by Shimoyama Ten, the dazzling "SHINOBI: HEART UNDER BLADE" centers on the drama resulting from the rivalry between two ninja clans in feudal Japan. While living deep within the mountains, the two clans have honed their skills to superhuman levels, but are restrained by imperial decree from battling each other. Four centuries of simmering tensions threaten to boil over when the Shogun requests the clans appear before him. Fearing that rebels may use the ninjas as instruments of insurrection, the nefarious Nankobo Tenkai (Ishibashi Renji) plots to ignite the rivalry. Nankobo creates a contest in which the clans are forced to choose five of their best warriors to participate.
Leading the two clans are Oboro (Nakama Yukie), the granddaughter of the respected Iga clan matriarch, and Gennosuke (Odagiri Jo), the son of the powerful Koga clan leader. Early in the film, Oboro and Gennosuke meet and fall in love, unaware of their clan ties. When they are both selected to compete they are surprised to discover the truth about one another's identities. The saga that follows explores an improbable love, intertwined with a breathtaking, fearsome match between ninja heavyweights. The long-awaited battle is hardly a friendly contest - it's a duel to the death!
Cast & Credits
I saw Basilisk before so I was familiar with the plot already, but the film inspired me to go find out the actual story. I felt like the story was a little rushed but they had to get a lot in a little time.
I loved the set design and the scenery. The camera seems to do a lot of scenery pans and where I would usually complain I didn't mind at all.
Although the acting was good I didn't feel Yukie was as good as Joe. However, she performs better here than in Gokusen. All the supporting cast did really well, they had a way of making you really believe they were from that time. I love movies that just suck you in and make you want to see if maybe the end will change from what you know it to be. This is one of those movies.
The story was quite new to me in spite of the romance being cliche. The action scenes kept me crazily engrossed. I couldn't get bored even for a moment there. The special effects are really worth watching. I didn't know Japan made such movies- it reminded me a lot of Hollywood superhero movies. Just substitute the superhero with multiple superhumans in this movie. The imagination of the writer was quite something. And of course, the cinematography was breathtaking. I call that picture perfect.
The direction and the technical stuff of the movie is great. The writing is also good but the ending was corny, which is the only reason I am not giving this movie a 10. They could have come up with a better ending. Since this movie is very reminiscent of a certain Shakespearean play, its ending was predictable.
I am not familiar with the cast except for Sawajiri Erika but I thought they all did a good job. The leads didn't have that much screentime but they managed to have good chemistry. The characterizations weren't that good but I blame that on the limited time a movie has to be able to include everything in within that time frame. It manages a satisfactory job.
The excellent music score also left an impact on me. I loved most of the score being played in the movie. That definitely earns points.
Anyway, this is still a great movie and I am glad I saw something as cool as this. It's the perfect film for lovers of action films.