• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

Alien Vs. Ninja

TITLE: Alien Vs. Ninja

YEAR: 2010

GENRE: Science Fiction and Kung Fu

Personally I am a fan of Japanese live action films that delve into the horror or science fiction markets. These films have a fraction of the budget of their American counterparts, so they tend to make up for the financial deficiencies with ridiculous plots and over the top presentation. Ichi The Killer is overly sadistic, The Machine Girl has literally gallons of blood, and Wild Zero brings the rock star movie to the nth degree. In that tradition, Alien Vs Ninja is a film that combines the sci-fi/horror elements of films like Aliens and Predator with kung fu fight scenes that create a fairly entertaining combination.

After a successful raid on an Oda Clan stronghold, Egah Clan ninjas see a fireball in the sky while travelling back to their village. Upon arrival the clan leaders send fight masters Yamada (Masanori Mimoto) and Jinnai (Shuji Kashiwabara) to investigate along with failed fighter and inventor sidekick Nezumi (Donpei Tsuchihira). On the way to the crash site they are confronted by an Oda scout party with attractive female karate master Rin (Mika Hijii) as their leader. The two groups decide to explore the strange happenings together and discover that a small group of aliens have crash landed. While visiting the planet, the aliens use the time to kill as many humans as possible and it is up to the ninja clans to defeat the monsters and protect their citizens against the extra-terrestrial threat.

The first aspect of Alien Vs. Ninja is to not take the film very seriously, and if one does that they will discover an interesting concept that combines excellent martial arts action with comedic situations and bizarre deaths. This film is all about the fight scenes and they are pulled off with a funny, clever panache. The fight scene between one of the aliens and Rin is especially enthralling; Hijii is excellent and quite nimble in her presentation and the choreography of the fight scene which adds some sexually suggestive elements is stylistic in its staging and plain fun to watch. Another hilarious scene involves a decapitation where the severed head bounces around some trees like a pinball complete with sound effects, lands in the hands of a statue, and ends up having its eyes picked out by an obvious wooden bird prop. Overall the film has a fast pace and keeps the excitement rolling. I also enjoyed the aliens which were sort of a cross between the alien, the predator and a seven-foot tall Rodan yet is not a rip-off of any; the costume is obviously a guy in a rubber suit but that is very acceptable considering the budget and the Japanese monster movie heritage. The cinematography is also well done and the film is clear, well lit, and well edited. On the negative, the dubbing into English is terrible but again that adds to the charm of Alien Vs. Ninja as it gives the flick that classic imported B-movie feel. The traditional special effects admittedly are poorly done and consist of doctored mannequin parts soaked in red and green fluids.

I personally enjoy most of the live action films out of Japan much more than their anime counterparts because they take their limited budgets and subsequent production values and in many cases create entertaining albeit outlandish end results. Alien Vs. Ninja is a great representation of this history and requires more than a look from the fans of Asian cinema. Some people might consider this film a rip-off of the Predator franchise, but rather Alien Vs. Ninja does stand on its own right to deliver a one-two punch of action and, well, more action. I enjoyed this much more than many American science fiction/horror hybrids.

* * * 1/2

–Mark

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