Ninja 2: Shadow of a Tear is currently streaming on Netflix. Great fight scenes wrapped up in a tight 90 minute package stuffed with unapologetic cliches, hackneyed dialogue, and paper thin characters make for a mindless yet enjoyable experience.
This movie is cheesy, but I think it knows it’s cheesy (I mean… “Shadow of a Tear?”). Hard to tell though, because it also takes itself very seriously. It feels like you’re watching a live action anime or a martial arts soap opera or a modern day Van Damme movie.
You don’t have to be emotionally available to enjoy it — in fact, it’s probably better if you watch it with detachment. If you do, it sort of becomes a comedy-karate movie. The whole, “…so bad it’s good,” thing — mixed with some of the best action scenes in a movie you’ll ever see (it’s kind of like porn in that way).
If Kill Bill was the expensive hand made rocking chair, crafted by a master carpenter; Ninja 2: Shadow of a Tear is the budget friendly, cookie cutter Walmart rocking chair: it’s too perfect, too cliche, and lacks heart — but it knows it’s job and serves its purpose well. Almost everything about this movie feels heavy handed: the writing, acting, editing, sound design, storytelling, all of it. In contrast, the fight scenes use very few cuts, letting Scott Adkins’ skill and speed speak for itself during the long takes that shift between real time and slow motion — a technique made famous by 300.
Ninja 2: Shadow of a Tear is a mental break. It’s just fun. Push through the cliche characters and plot to get to truly awesome fight scenes — they are worth it — and it’s only 90 minutes. With the right perspective, or even better, if you watch it with friends, the cheesy parts can even add to the fun of this film.