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  Revenge of the Ninja Warrior
1985 | Haruki Kadokawa Films.
Revenge of the ninja warrior Celebrity's Just for kids

Today I delve yet again into the back catalogue of Celebrity Just For Kids to bring you the infamous Revenge of the Ninja Warrior. How did it go from an adult rated movie to a kids film and how much is left? Let's find out...

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Kamui no Ken (Dagger of Kamui) is the epic story of Jiro, a young boy accused of the murder of his mother and sister, who is trained to be a ninja by the priest Tenkai and sent a mission to uncover the riddle of the legendary blade. On his quest the boy ninja travels from feudal Japan, to Russia and the USA, and uncovers the truth behind his life so far as well as Tenkai's true motives for uncovering the dagger's origins.

Based on a series of novels by Tetsu Yano. Yano was best known in Japan as a Science Fiction writer authoring a number of popular sci-fi books in the 1940's & 50's. He later made a name for himself by translating the American novels which had inspired him to become a writer including Dune and Starship Troopers.

The novels became a 132 minute animated movie in March 1985 via Madhouse, Toei and the famous Kadokawa Shoten distributors. Madhouse was founded in 1972 by former members of Osamu Tezuka's Mushi studio and founder member Hayashi Shigeyuki aka Rentaro took on the role of director. The lead role of Jiro was voiced by popular actor Hiroyuki Sanada, star of the first two Ringu movies as well as the villain's role in Jackie Chan's Rush Hour 3, in his only anime role with support from voice of Minky Momo and Arale Chan - Mami Koyama as female ninja Oyuki and Yuriko Yamamoto as Jiro's eventual wife Chico, best known as Hokuto no Ken's Yuria.

Kamui no ken appeared in the U.S. in three forms. The first was as Revenge of the Ninja Warrior. Released in 1987 this was supposedly Kamui for kids. The Japanese movie was picked up and dubbed by American National Enterprises Inc, a small foreign movie distributor, who then supplied it to Celebrity. Celebrity then removed 40 mins from the running time to make the length more child friendly, even if the movie wasn't and released it on their Just For Kids range.

The second release was from Animego, a well respected specialist in the genre, who in 1993 released the original Japanese version of Kamui no Ken completely unedited in widescreen with subtitles under the translated title Dagger of Kamui.

Following the demise of Celebrity Home Entertainment in the mid nineties most of their inventory was bought and re-released by Best Film & Video including Revenge of the ninja Warrior. It returned to the bargain bins under the slightly different title Blade of Kamui with a box blurb claiming the story was set "On a faraway planet..." in a deceptive attempt to sell an otherwise unappealing tale to kids. Disappointingly there is not a single reference to this in the film in fact this is the exact same dub as the old RotNW version but completely unedited basically making it a dubbed version of Kamui no Ken and not a children's film at all.

Kamui no Ken Kamui no ken   The Blade of Kamui
Kamui no ken movie poster
Kamui no Ken novel
Best Film & Video VHS

The movie fades in. We are introduced to the Kamui mountain in Japan which, if you are watching the supposedly intergalactically based Blade of Kamui, completely exposes the blurb's lies from the start. Next is the stylish and surreal murder of Jiro's mother and sister with the original chanting accompaniment just to further confuse the kids. Lightning flashes, a blade gleams, a ninja flips and floats around the room. Two strikes and he leaves as quickly as he entered, the floor bathed in blood red puddles of light. If I were a kid I'd be bored already and the title card hasn't appeared yet! In the light of morning young Jiro returns home, maybe from a hard night's clubbing in Roppongi. He is shocked to discover his only family slain and discovers and sheathed dagger under is mother's arm.

Revenge of the Ninja Warrior Dagger of kamui Blade of Kamui

A brief burst of generic rock accompanies the title to try and convince the young audience that this is definitely going to be a rocking, action packed, exciting ninja movie that the box promised and not the slow moving, dull art movie that it seems so far.

The villagers burst in and, based on what they've witnessed, brand Jiro an (adopted) mother killer forcing the young ninja-to-be to flee for his life with the murder weapon still in hand. The credits intersect Jiro's cross country dash from justice chock full of mis-credited names including Toru Yano as writer and director Rintaro written with a space in the middle.

Night falls and Jiro is met by a statue faced man in the woods. The man claims to know the truth behind the murder of his mother and sister and reassures the fugitive boy that the man responsible is being hunted down at that very moment.

Nearby ninjas are hassling a man name Tarossa who is the one suspected of being the real killer. He is a one armed man, so he's definitely to blame. Having killed off most of the expendable assailants Tarossa is cornered by the lead ninja, named Hanzo in case that is important later, who tells him all about what has been going on which pretty much spoils what could have been a surprise plot twist later on, but with so many to come perhaps that is a good thing, To summarise Tarossa is Jiro's real father and Hanzo and Mr Statue-Face, real name Priest Tenkai, have lured him to this place, so that Jiro, believing him to be the killer, will murder him.

All seems a little convoluted... that's just the start of it!

Revenge of the Ninja Warrior Dagger of kamui Blade of Kamui

Sure enough Jiro gives the accused a good stabbing, although Tenkai has to finish him off with a good ol' sword-in-the-head. Hanzo then orders the whole village to be burnt down and the villagers to be massacred. Seems a little extreme but Jiro doesn't protest. After all they did accuse him of a crime he didn't commit so screw 'em.

Now the Ninja Warrior has had his Revenge so the movie's over... right? Wrong, there's another 85 mins left. Tenkai takes Jiro under his wing and has him taught the ways of the ninja so he can find the truth about his past. Jerry Springer used to do all that in just half an hour and without any training montages and a lot more violence. I guess the Japanese culture really is that different from our own.

Years later Jiro completes his training and is sent by Tenkai on the mission his father was unable to fulfil. But his is also sending along the camp looking man in the silk blouse who trained Jiro to keep an eye on his progress.

Revenge of the Ninja Warrior Dagger of kamui

First up on his travels, Jiro comes across a young boy who's father is being beaten in the street by a gang of thugs. No doubt keen to try out his new ninja skills he beats up and eventually kills the thugs but it is too late for the boy's dad. Together the newly orphaned kid and Jiro run off into the horizon unaware that this was all a set up to get him to visit his companion's village, Kotan. Now, it seems to me that all that was a little contrived; killing an innocent boy's father and allow four expendable thugs to get ninja-ed just so Jiro would end up in a certain village. Why not just tell him to start his quest in Kotan? I guess it's just because Tenkai is that evil!

Revenge of the Ninja Warrior Dagger of kamui Blade of Kamui

Quality dialog...
Jiro: "What'll you do from now?"
Boy: "I'll go back to the village of Kotan"
Jiro: "Oh."

After some wandering and a little shirt-less soul searching they reach Kotan. The village elder recognises the murder weapon as the Dagger of Kamui. The mysterious blade originates from that very village and it was given to a man who was married to a woman who now lives nearby. Jiro visits this woman who turns out to be his real mother and she really hates Tenkai. To cut a long story short Jiro's father Tarossa was sent by Tenkai to Kotan to solve the mystery of a legendary treasure but when he got there he fell in love with Jiro's mother and the two attempted to escape the evil priest. Unfortunately you can't escape religion and he hunted them down separating mother and son and supposedly killing Tarossa.

But that's all in the past now, now they have been reunited and can live happily ever after... right? Wrong, there is poison in there tea and it's curtains for Mrs Ninja Warrior and Jiro is jailed. The culprits are either the flouncey bloused ninja or the village elders, I'm starting to loose my grip on the plot. The Kotan boy frees Jiro and leads him to his mother's resting place. The boy doesn't realise how lucky he is when Jiro sends him on his way, as the story will go on to prove, Jiro's companions don't last long.

Revenge of the Ninja Warrior Dagger of kamui Blade of Kamui

Digging through his father's grave the Ninja Warrior finds, amongst other things, a scroll written in a foreign language (English) and an assortment of shurikens.

Next up Jiro catches up with his flouncey bloused ninja master tricking him into drinking poisoned water, the same fate that befell his mother. Before his death the flamboyant warrior spills the beans on Tenkai's plot- he is using Jiro to retrace his father's steps, going to great lengths to recreate the events so that the young Ninja Warrior might succeed were Tarossa failed and discover the secret treasure.

It seems Tenkai's plot is going awry so a team of ninja's is sent to terminate Jiro. Amongst this team is a pale female ninja named Oyuki. The team prove to be a formidable match for Jiro who escapes the battle barely alive. After collapsing in the wilderness he is discovered and taken in by an old hermit. The old man was forced into a life of solitude by government agents who did like him taking an interest in the countries outside of Japan.

Revenge of the Ninja Warrior Dagger of kamui Blade of Kamui

With the aid of this old crank and his young female assistant Jiro learns that the treasure is located in the foreign lands of America. After much time recuperating the Ninja Warrior sets out to find a ship to take him across the sea, carrying three bags of gold dust given to him to aid his journey. But even after all this time Tenkai hasn't forgotten about him, he has sent his Three Devil Ninja to put an end to Jiro's adventure.

As they bid him farewell the curse of the companion befalls the old hermit and he is killed by poisoned darts. Jiro runs off leaving the young girl to face Tenkai's questions. Her answer? Suicide by shuriken. Notch up another one to the curse!

Revenge of the Ninja Warrior Dagger of kamui Blade of Kamui

Elsewhere the Ninja Warrior saves a black slave named Sam from a roaming gang. Sam works aboard an America bound ship, perfect! As the two row out to the ship Jiro is once again attacked this time by Oyuki. Her assassination attempt fails and she is knocked unconscious and is stranded aboard the ship bound for the open sea. To make things even more uncomfortable the captain forces Jiro to take care of her and attend to her recuperation.

Some time into their voyage one of the deckhands attempts to kill Jiro and steal his gold but Oyuki saves him. The Captain isn't pleased with this disturbance and forces Jiro, Oyuki and Sam (who Jiro buys from the Captain) off of his ship onto the snowy wastes of Russia. Sheltering in a cave from the freezing cold Oyuki offers herself to Jiro but he isn't interested. Remember this is a kids cartoon. A friendship begins to develop between the sworn enemies.

Revenge of the Ninja Warrior Dagger of kamui Blade of Kamui

A year later Jiro is stumbling alone through the Nevada desert. He chances upon a couple of cowboys just as they are about to get friendly with a naked indian girl, who is less than willing. The sight of the girls butt is repeatedly removed, this is a children's film after all. The leering cowpokes are beaten down and the Ninja Warrior is taken to her village.

Revenge of the Ninja Warrior Dagger of kamui Blade of Kamui

As a reward the chief of the village gives the girl, Chico- his daughter, to Jiro. It is revealed that she is not indian at all but actually French. I'm sure that won't be important later. Chico leads Jiro to a saloon named Santa Catalina since he is looking for an island by that name. This leads to an unfriendly welcome by the locals, a good old-fashioned showdown with the nasty cowboys from earlier, and a chance meeting with one of the patrons, a certain Mark Twain.

Revenge of the Ninja Warrior Dagger of kamui Blade of Kamui

Mr Twain is fascinated by Jiro's quest and reveals that it is said that Santa Catalina island is home of the famous pirate Captain Kidd's hidden treasure. Fortunately he also knows of the location of the island.

On Santa Catalina Jiro works out the riddle which was written on his father's scroll and uncovers the treasure. But he has been followed by none other than Tenkai himself. This is what he was after all along. With this treasure he can defeat his enemies who are threatening to reopen Japan's borders and ensure that the country stays closed to the outside world forever. He orders Oyuki to kill Jiro after all... she is his sister!! That was a close shave in that cave then...

Of course she refuses and a battle breaks out. The female ninja intervenes killing the evil priest but being mortally wounded herself in the struggle. Incidentally the whole fight is heavily altered (about 2 mins of cuts) but it's all done reasonably well -if you don't know the original I doubt you'd notice too much.

Revenge of the Ninja Warrior Dagger of kamui Blade of Kamui

So that's the end right? The Ninja Warrior has had his Revenge and the treasure has been found. But no there is still twenty minutes left. Chico reveals that her real name is Julie and that she was born in Nagasaki and that Tenkai killed her father. Wow, that guy gets around a bit! Fortunately her father killed the priest. But hand on if he did that then who did Jiro kill? They were both imposters!!

After a lot of unnecessary scenes of accurate Historical detail the Ninja Warrior finally gets to have his Revenge. He face Tenkai on the battle field and the two battle it out. Of course Jiro is victorious and, with a swift stab to the head, the evil priest is dead and his plot is foiled once and for all. Leaving the scene of battle Jiro meets a general named Saigo who looks a little like Tenkai. What does it all mean? Who knows- abrupt end!

Revenge of the Ninja Warrior Dagger of kamui Blade of Kamui
Missing videos Missing videos

Jiro Vs Oyuki
Innocently rowing out to a ship, Jiro and Sam come under attack from the female ninja.

The Final(ish) Showdown
Comparing Jiro's battle with phony Tenkai from the Just For Kids release to the uncut version.

Good dubbing
Nice score
  Good length
Slow pace
A little dull
  Serious adaptation not a messy hack-up
  Misleading cover

I must admit that I was disappointed by Revenge of the Ninja Warrior. Having heard that it was heavily cut from an R rated Madhouse ninja movie I was expecting something akin to Ninja Scroll for under 7's. But Kamui no Ken is more 'mature' than 'adult' and conversely Revenge is more of an adaptation than a hack job. My spirits were raised when I found Blade of Kamui that claimed to be set on a different planet but were then dashed even further when I began watching it and found it was an even more faithful adaptation! In reality it was more of a companion to Animego's sub version. What a jip!

Having watched Kamui no Ken I imagined that this version would probably begin in the wild west and use some of the footage which proceeded that as flash backs to tell the story. It would end with either one of Jiro's two confrontations with Tenkai.

The cuts to Revenge seem mostly to keep the running time down with practically none of the unsuitable material removed. The only real fun, and it's not great, are the end credits for Blade which are the exact same as the original's but without the text. This means you get to watch Jiro running through the same, looping field for six minutes without event and then it suddenly ends. A baffling way to end the film if you aren't familiar with the original.

And so it transpires that Revenge of the Ninja Warrior is simply a cartoon intended for the foreign art houses that ended up as a not particularly suitable kids film. Best watched if you don't like subtitles and you think 132 mins is too long.

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