Written By: AJ Taysom
Directed by: Seiji Chiba
Cast: Shûji Kashiwabara, Mika Hijii, Ben Hiura
I’ve been pretty obsessed with Kung-Fu horror movies lately. There aren’t very many of them out there, which is good, because that means most of them end up being decent. It seems like if somebody is going to go to the trouble of making a horror movie AND a Kung-Fu movie, then they take enough time and care to make sure it’s good.
One of the more bizarre entries in the genre, Alien vs Ninjas is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a group of pretty disgusting, trypophobia inducing aliens fighting an elite death squad of ninjas. They just sort of come out of the sky one day and the ninjas happen to be around, so they battle. There isn’t a whole lot of substance to the plot here. What you see is what you get. Although the title seems to be pretty straightforward, the movie takes an odd twenty minutes or so to really get going. We meet the ninja squad, they fight other ninjas for a bit, and then the aliens show up. It’s surprisingly un-gory for the first 20 minutes or so, but things pick up after that. Like, really, really pick up. And then there’s gore everywhere and it’s a little terrifying. The shift from no gore to lots of gore happens so fast that it’s almost an entire change of tone. It’s a good change, but a drastic one nonetheless.
Alien vs Ninjas is far from being a perfect movie. It is not, however, far from being a perfect Alien vs Ninjas movie. I realize this probably sounds cryptic. What I’m trying to say is that it is exactly what it needs to be, which is perfect. There are a few weird tonal inconsistencies here and there, the humor gets a little strange at times, but the battle sequences are tight and well shot and the Aliens are pretty gross and scary. It was done on a pretty obvious low budget but the filmmakers and actors are clearly having fun here and it feels like they want you to have fun too. Which is super, super important for Kung-Fu movies and (some) horror movies, I think. Because if you can’t have fun watching it, then what’s the point?
The film was produced by Funimation and it honestly feels like it should be an anime. If anime sensibilities weird you out (they weird me out) then maybe avoid this one. Most of the humor feels very “anime” (if you watch anime then you know what that means) and I think a few of the English dubbed voices are actually well known anime voice actors.
But, alas, it’s not an anime. It’s a “vs” flick, through and through. I think It’ll look pretty nice on my shelf next to Alien vs Predator and Freddy vs Jason.