Runtime: 95 Mins
This movie reminds me on 1980’s arcade beat em ups, not even the 1990’s ones, but the real old school fighters that scrolled to the right in one simple determined direction, where one man would go up against an army of high kicking pissants. Occasionally between levels some type of rudimentary reference to a plot would be gestured at, before quickly lunging back into relentless fighting action. That’s what happens here, boss fights and all. While it’s nice to see a DTV movie not shot in Bulgaria, with competent editing and camerawork, Ninja 2: Shadow of a Tear is not a highlight in Adkins’ career. A lack of variation, character and story is a problem here. It’s a bit flat.
Scott Adkins’ pregnant wife is slain by some mobster thugs. In return, ‘trained Ninja’ Adkins goes on a campaign of revenge and justice, taking down half the population of South-East Asia with him, in his quest to meet the guy running the show. I know we don’t expect much story from movies like this, but man, it really is thin on the ground. As alluded to above it’s just one long brawl of well orchestrated fight scenes. Fight scenes are not interrupted by story, rather scenes of Adkins heading to his next batch of enemies. Adkins travelling on foot to enemies, Adkins travelling in a boat, Adkins travelling in a taxi. Dialogue is replaced by swinging iron bars and slashed throats. Many. Slashed. Throats. Normally I wouldn’t complain, but it’s abnormally bad and the fights aren’t covering the cost.
The backbone of this movie the fighting and brawling. It’s good, but not great. In my opinion, some movies can outpace a complete and utter lack of logic and narrative by sheer satisfaction in their fight scenes and action. Like The Raid (2011) or The Protector (2005). Those movies have punches that the viewer can feel and an element of unpredictability. The fights in Ninja 2 don’t feel snug, the acrobatics are amazing but lack consequence. One fight also feels very similar to the next – Adkins plowing his way through anonymous divers, so by the halfway point of the movie you’ve kind of seen it all. It’s kind of ludicrous, in a good way. Maybe. Sometimes I think something that’s working against Adkins reaching the next phase in his career is that he doesn’t really acknowledge the lunacy of it all, a little tongue in cheek one liner won’t hurt in a movie like this.
Ninja 2 is a nice showcase for Adkins’ acting and agility. But as fans, we’re already aware of this. It’s time it was put to better use.