Rival martial arts schools do battle until the losing school brings in ninjas to settle the score in this high-flying martial arts film from the Shaw Brothers.
Featuring acrobatic martial arts, exotic weaponry such as round knife blades, pointy poison rings, and sparking axes, and outlandish costumes such as capes, daring off-the-shoulder get-ups, and extravagant sideburns, Five Element Ninjas is sort of like The Legion Of Superheroes, only with metallic umbrella hats with knives and seppuku, you know, back when comic books tried to sexify superheroes to make them (both males and females) look like exotic dancers in space.
I don't know an awful lot about space, but I'm pretty sure Saturn Girl is going to catch a cold wearing a swimsuit and thigh-high boots while orbiting a planet, but what do I know?
Anyway, ingenious, absurd, and beautifully choreographed, Five Element Ninjas is bloody, with quite a bit of arterial spray, at least one ninja gets drawn and quartered, and at least one chicken gets thrown. While there's very little dialogue, the cinematography and non-stop action more than makes up for it, particularly during the scene when a ninja skims delicately across a lake on one toe, and another battle scene with ninjas twirling black flags in dense red smoke. A romance in the middle drags the film down a bit, but it can't be all fighting, even with backward film effects, wire work, stilt-walking, and trampoline stunts. Five Element Ninjas is spectacular, and you shouldn't miss it.