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Shinobi No Mono 4: Siege - arthouse and international DVD / foreign language DVD / action adventure DVD / martial arts DVD review
(aka Shinobi No Mono: Kirigakure Saizo)
Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 3 stars
Featuring: Raizô Ichikawa, Yűko Kusunoki, Midori Isomura, Takahiro Tamura, Jo Kenzaburo
Director: Kazuo Mori   Studio: Animeigo
DVD release: 02 June 2009   Runtime: 86 minutes
(1 disc)
Format: Color, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD Features: Aspect ratio 2.35:1, Audio tracks (Dolby Digital Stereo - Japanese), Subtitles (English), Interactive map of Japan, Historical notes, Still gallery, Original trailer, Upcoming releases

Shinobi No Mono 4: Siege is the fourth in a series of successful Ninja movies that pretty much put the ninja on the map in modern pop culture.

In 1615, Ninjas were integral to the machinations of Japanese ruler Tokogawa Ieyasu, who plans to eradicate the Toyotomi ninja clan to help secure his position. He makes some headway, but ninjas are hard to kill - and they have no intention of going down with a fight.

Kirigakure Saizo (Raizo Ichikawa) is back using his amazing Ninja skills to better his enemy when he can. Lady Akane (Midori Isomura) is back as well and in occasional peril. What do you expect? She's a damsel, and she's bound to find herself distressed. As formulaic as this may seem, it's a fascinating look at this period of Japan's history. I'm no historian, and I can't tell you if it's terribly accurate, but it is intriguing. More modern Ninja films would concentrate on the action and leave the political intrigue as a superficial structure to hang the action from.

If you've seen none of the other Shinobi No Mono films, expect to feel a bit disappointed about the character development. Shinobi No Mono 4: Siege is a good film and entertaining, but I don't think it would have connected with me as well had I not seen #3. Imagine if I'd seen the first two!

As is usual in this series (and all Japanese films I've seen from AnimEigo), the color-coded subtitles make it easier to follow who says what, especially when the dialog gets flying. Helpful pop-up notes aid in putting the action in a historical context.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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