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Ninja Resurrection

Review by: 
Head Cheeze
Makai tenshô: Jigoku-hen
Release Date: 
Aspect Ratio: 
Directed by: 
Yasunori Urata
Bottom Line: 

As a guy who prides himself on owning a vast collection of some of the most violent flicks assembled, even I was shocked by the level of gore on display here in ADV's Ninja Resurrection. We're talking babies-on-stakes violence folks- and that no holds barred attitude is precisely what makes this OVA series such a blast!
Ninja Resurrection is a loose follow-up to the 1993 hit anime feature Ninja Scroll, and follows the adventures of that film's hero, Jubei Yagyu, a ninja mercenary whose battle skill is rivaled only by his moral fortitude. Jubei, at the behest of the Emperor Tokugawa Shogunate, sets out to kill a Christian leader whose followers think he is the second coming of Christ. Shiro Amakusa-the "messiah" target-proves to be an honorable foe and offers his life to Jubei in exchange for the safety of his people. Jubei agrees, but just as Shiro is about to take his own life, an evil associate produces the heads of two children he himself murdered, declaring them to be "victims" of Jubei. Shiro is enraged, and curses Jubei for his supposed crimes. When the Christian uprising is quelled, Jubei begins his trek home, but the will of Shiro is strong, even from beyond the grave. Soon Jubei finds himself fighting a holy war of a completely different magnitude!
Ninja Resurrection features two episodes, originally sold separately on VHS. Both "Revenge of Jubei" & "Hell's Spawn" run 50 minutes each, and when combined make for a feature length bargain set. Steeped in Japanese history (the 17th century Shogunate Tokugawa was a very dark chapter in Japanese history, where tens of thousands of Christians were slaughtered by the emperor's armies) this mini-series combines the traditional (dress, architecture) with the outrageous (bizarre "ancient" technology, modern slang) and heaps on scene after scene of gratuitous violence so over the top it's not only hilarious, it's exhilarating. Okay, okay; I sound like a raving maniac here, praising this film's lack of scruples, but it's just so refreshing to see something with such a disregard for the "rules", that I can't help but be enthusiastic. The only downside is that the two episodes presented here seem to build up to something before ending rather abruptly. There's no sign of a follow-up, so I'm afraid this is all we may get.
The DVD from ADV features a slide show of stills and artwork from the series, as well as 12 trailers for other ADV releases. While it doesn't sound like much, trailer-fiends will overdose on the twenty minutes plus worth of previews here. It's not really so much of an extra as it is self-promotion, but they entertained me, and that's more than can be said for a lot of extras I've seen ;)
Ninja Resurrection is an absolute balls to the wall, swords and spleens epic that's a little short on story (and sort of lacks an ending), but is a total feast for the eyes and a complete assault on the senses (and scruples!). This is hardcore stuff folks, so don't let the Yugi-Oh lookin' characters lull you into a false sense of security-you show this to any kid under 12 and you just may shatter their little minds.
Then again, show it to ‘em anyway! Hehehehe…

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