Ninjaken: The Naked Sword - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: C
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: NA
  • Extras Rating: NA
  • Age Rating: 18 and Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Switchblade Pictures
  • MSRP: 19.99
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Ninjaken: The Naked Sword

Ninjaken: The Naked Sword

By Chris Beveridge     January 08, 2009
Release Date: November 18, 2008


Ninjaken: The Naked Sword
© Switchblade Pictures

Escaping from a feudal lord, sexy ninja Murasame discovers a convent that isn’t all that it seems to be.

What They Say
In the time of warring states, the female ninja Murasame is assigned to assassinate the rebel Lord Daizen Osakabe, who has aligned himself with the Tokugawa clan in a plot to betray the Taiko! Despite overwhelming odds, Murasame nearly succeeds, but in the end is outnumbered and badly wounded. Fleeing the daimyo's Samurai, she collapses, awakening to find herself not dead, but hidden within a mysterious convent. However, the woman-loving abbess's promises of shelter are not all they seem, for already a sinister plot has taken control of Murasame's future. Now she must use all her skills, both as a Ninja and as a woman, to escape a deadly web of slavery and deception. But it is not just escape that Murasame must seek, but also revengeà for when you betray a Ninja, you must forfeit your life! K'de Matsushima stars as the naked steel of one female Ninja is tested as never before in NINJAKEN - THE NAKED SWORD!

The Review!
Audio:
Switchblade Pictures has decided not to dub their releases at this time so this feature is presented in its original Japanese stereo language form only. Encoded at 224kbps, it’s pretty standard material when it comes to the audio department as it’s a basic stereo channel mix without anything really resembling strong directionality. Without too much in the way of depth, there’s nothing that stands out strongly here but it’s conveyed well and it rather does suit the material. We didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of the presentation.

Video:
Originally released in 2006, the transfer for this feature is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Done on video rather than film, the feature looks decent but is hampered by source issues. Part of the same production series as Twin Blades of the Ninja, this release features the same kinds of issues as that one since they’re done the same way. The first is that there’s a fair bit of cross coloration throughout it. It’s very apparent in the backgrounds but it also creeps into the swords’ at times which is actually rather amusing. The outdoor background scenes with all the trees tend to have a lot of mosquito noise to it which is fairly distracting. This isn’t exactly a budgeted movie of any sort really so it’s not surprising that it has a low quality feel. The bitrates look to work with the source material as much as possible but there’s only so far that it can go. It’s not a travesty or anything, but if you’re looking for a clean and pristine film here, you won’t get it.

Packaging:
The packaging design for this release, through the front and back cover, let you know exactly what to expect. The front cover artwork is very nicely framed with dark purples and blacks with a simple logo along the top for Switchblade Pictures and a larger red piece on the bottom saying that it’s the Unrated Limited Edition. The central focus of course is the image of Kaede Matsushima with her in her ninja uniform as she brandishes her short sword. It’s a fairly dark cover, but the black background with the purple hued sky against the moon just draws more attention to Kaede herself. The back cover is nicely done as well as the left half is done up as a naked woman posing that’s shadowed in reds and purples. Across her back and posterior is the summary from the show and the production credits. To her right are several shots from the show, both action and sexual of nature, which lets you see more of the cast. The bottom portion runs through a fairly standard technical grid which is also clear about what kind of material it is. No inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
None, it just goes right into the feature. After the feature ends, it hits the DVD production credits menu, then a Switchblade Pictures logo screen and then it stops the disc.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Ninjaken: The Naked Sword is the same part as a previous Switchblade Pictures film we saw with Twin Blades of the Ninja. It’s part of what must be a production series by GP Museum Soft as they even use the same opening minute or two to describe what a kunoichi is and its origins in name and numbers. There’s some nice familiarity with that and having a series of erotic ninja tales where the expectations may be fairly predictable certainly is a good thing if you like what you see. Like Twin Blades of the Ninja, there’s a whole lot of softcore sex going on here and plenty of amusement along the way as well.

I mean, let’s be honest with the amusement factor. We’ve got one guy running around the woods wearing a bright red ninja outfit. We’ve got an Abbess who never takes her headwear off even when she’s going to town on men or women. And we’ve got a scene with one captured woman who essentially pole dances on a five foot tall phallic piece of wood that’s as thick as a normal man’s leg. Toss in some live-action scatological material (ok, ok, I know it’s really just water trickling down her leg) and some campy bloodletting during a fight scene or two and it’s comedy gold. You really want to figure out some sort of group drinking game with this and show it at an over twenty-one convention.

Ninjaken: The Naked Sword introduces us to Murasame, a master female ninja who lives during the warring states period. She’s been assigned to gain information and to eliminate a feudal lord named Osakabe as he is planning a rebellion. She’s managed to get close and confirm the information, but before she can kill him she runs into his main retainer, a man named Akotage. The two face off and he manages to capture her, but she’s able to escape – sexily – but not without being wounded. With a little luck, she happens across a woman who lives in a nearby convent that’s meant to help abused and confused women find safety until they can return to the world at large.

Under the guidance of Abbess Jokyo, the convent is a rather strict place, especially for Murasame since she’s new there and uncertain of what it is they’re up to. But something is amiss there as she hears things at night, such as a woman crying out in pain. What helps ease her time there is the friendship she strikes up with Asa, a woman who fled her home some eight years earlier because of an abusive father. Asa’s the one who found Murasame and is under orders to watch her carefully by the Abbess. Asa will of course obey her orders as she’s really under the Abbess’ control mentally and physically. This leads to a rather amusing scene of the Abbess dressing down the young Asa in her outfit and then the two of them working to pleasure each other for awhile.

Naturally, Osakabe and his retainer aren’t going to let Murasame get away with this for long. While there are some idyllic moments along the way, such as walks along the river with Murasame and Asa, there are some changes in direction as well. When Asa reveals her sudden love (lust!) for Murasame, they two explore it pretty thoroughly. And during much of this, the Abbess is also showing the viewer that she knows how to pleasure a monk as well. Everyone is getting something in this feature, but the darker secret is that the Abbess really works for Osakabe and she’s intent on putting Murasame in her place before he arrives.

That place, of course, is as a properly trained sex slave that they can later on sell to the open market. That the convent is like this certainly isn’t a surprise from the first moment that we see the Abbess dominating Asa ever so lightly. The training period takes up a nice chunk of time, especially as they show an in-progress slave, and then there’s the entire showing of the wares to an audience which brings us to the faux pole dancing moment we talked about earlier. Ninjaken: The Naked Sword has a whole lot of sex going on throughout it, in its softcore kind of way where you don’t really see anything besides naked breasts, and it has a lot of variety to it which should please those that want to see different things throughout.

In Summary:
As varied as it is, Ninjaken: The Naked Sword is also like Twin Blades of the Ninja in that it’s easier to see it as a comedy than as something erotic. Twin Blades actually makes out better since it wants to be a bit more serious, but Ninjaken hits unintentional comedy gold in so many ways. The other thing that hurt it for me was that I didn’t find Kade Matsushima all that attractive in general, and the Abbess doesn’t do herself any favors by never taking off the headwear. It makes her look older than she is and fairly unappealing. There are some good moments throughout, but overall I found myself laughing more than not, which earned me some curious questions as I watched it. This isn’t a bad way to pass the time, but depending on your mood and expectations, you may laugh more than anything else.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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