Shinobi: Hidden Techniques (2002) – By Duane L. Martin

Unfortunately, Shinobi: Hidden Techniques is the third film in the Shinobi series, and ADV didn’t send me the first two to review along with this one, so I’m kind of working this review with no previous knowledge of the series or of what led up to the events in this one. However, this film does have a nice lead in where it explains what happened in the previous films, so it is possible to watch it independently without getting too awful lost, so it wasn’t that much of an issue.

Basically the whole story involves a lot of socio-political intrigue with the Shinobi, a class of incredibly skilled fighters, being used by the various village leaders to maintain their political power and status.

Two of the Shinobi, a young man named Kagerou and his female companion Aoi, who happens to be one of the hottest Asian women I’ve ever seen, are on the run after being framed for the murder of their village’s boss by the villainous Rokkaku.

A deal is struck between Rokkaku and two of the other village leaders for them each to send a Shinobi to hunt down Kagerou and Aoi. Hourai is the Shinobi working for Rokkaku, but he has betrayed him before, allowing Kagerou and Aoi to escape, and the other two villages send Kuio, a Shinobi with iron spiked gauntlets and seemingly super strength, and Nanao, a Shinobi who can move silently, undetected, and insanely fast. The end of the film has Kagerou and Hourai taking on these two super Shinobi…but that’s where it stops.

See, these films are actually a series of films. This particular disc is only the third film, and doesn’t have any sort of an actual ending to it because it’s continued in the next film. I haven’t seen the first two films in the series and I don’t know if I’ll be sent the next one when it comes out, so it’s rather frustrating to have only seen a certain segment of the whole story.

As for the movie itself, it’s shot on video, and it looks it. However, although it’s obviously a low budget picture, it has the look and professional feel of a film that cost much more to make. The acting was first rate and the fighting scenes are some of the coolest and most action packed I’ve seen in a long time. The sword work is absolutely amazing and will be a real treat for anyone who loves martial arts action.

The film itself was extremely well paced with almost no unnecessary or slow scenes at all. The political intrigue in the story may be a bit hard to follow for people who haven’t seen the series from the beginning, but this film has a really nice introduction that explains pretty much all you need to know. All in all, this was an excellent film, and I can only assume the others in the series are equally as good.

You can check out this and other releases from ADV Films by visiting their website at http://www.advfilms.com.