Movie Kumite: Revenge of the Ninja vs. Ninja: Shadow of a Tear
Shô Kosugi and Scott Adkins have quite a bit in common. Both are practitioners of the martial arts. Both are international action movie superstars. Both were even born on June 17th. Kosugi was born on June 17th, 1948 in Tokyo, Japan. Adkins was born on June 17th, 1976 in Sutton Coldfield, England. And both are known for their ninja themed movies.
With all these similarities an action fan can’t help but wonder who is superior? We will put Kosugi’s Revenge of the Ninja up against Adkins’ Ninja: Shadow of a Tear in our cinematic slugfest known as the Movie Kumite and find out!
In terms of memorable characters, Scott Adkins’ Casey Bowman is second only to Yuri Boyka in Adkins’ filmography. Ninja and Ninja: Shadow of a Tear were great examples of honoring the past while giving the movies a more gritty and modern feel than the ninja movies many of us grew up watching in the 1980’s. I can only hope as a fan that we get to see the next chapter in the life of Casey Bowman some day.
Shô Kosugi’s characters may not be particularly memorable, for the most part he is the same guy in every movie. Kosugi’s Cho Osaki in Revenge of the Ninja does not really stand out from Kosugi’s Ken Tani in Black Eagle or Kosugi’s Akira Saito in Pray for Death… but he is freaking Shô Kosugi. More and more I work under the assumption that Shô Kosugi is an actual ninja and until someone out there can prove that he is not, I’m going to continue to assume that he is. So it is really tough to say that anybody in the world, even highly skilled Scott Adkins, can out-ninja Shô Kosugi. This round goes to Kosugi!
REVENGE OF THE NINJA -1 NINJA: SHADOW OF A TEAR – 0
Both Revenge of the Ninja and Shadow of a Tear feature wolves in sheep’s clothing. After his family is targeted by ninjas in Japan, Cho Osaki’s “good friend” Braden (Arthur Roberts) urges Cho to move to the land of opportunity that is the United States of America. But it is all just a plot by Braden to use his friend and his friend’s business as a front for importing heroin into the country. Braden eventually kills Cho’s mom, tries to kill Cho’s young son Kane (Kane Kosugi) and then attempts to eliminate Cho himself when the two former friends battle on a rooftop.
Shadow of a Tear revolves around Casey Bowman seeking revenge on the man who killed his pregnant wife. Spoiler Alert… that man turns out to be Bowman’s friend Nakabura (Kane Kosugi). This leads to an epic battle between Bowman and Nakabura and it is this showdown that makes Shadow of a Tear the superior of Adkins tow ninja films in my opinion.
There really is no comparison when it comes to villains… Arthur Roberts did a good job in the Braden role, but Kane Kosugi did not need a stunt coordinator to fill in for him in the fight scenes like Roberts did in Revenge of the Ninja. Kane Kosugi is the real deal and a real badass in Shadow of a Tear, so once again I can say this round goes to Kosugi!
REVENGE OF THE NINJA – 1 NINJA: SHADOW OF A TEAR – 1
Before Revenge of the Ninja, Sam Firstenberg had never directed an action movie before but with some on the job training, Firstenberg quickly became Cannon Films go to action guy. Firstenberg would go on to direct movies like American Ninja, Avenging Force and American Samurai for Cannon and continued to work in the action industry after Cannon’s demise in movies like Cyborg Cop and Blood Warriors.
Isaac Florentine, on the other hand, came into Ninja: Shadow of a Tear with a wealth of action movie experience. Plus Florentine had already worked with Adkins in movies like Undisputed 2: Last Man Standing, The Shepherd and Ninja before Shadow of a Tear. Throw in the fact that Florentine is a martial artist himself and it is no surprise why the Adkins/Florentine combination is magic. They are like the Martin Scorcese/Robert DeNiro of martial arts flicks.
As much as I worship the work of Sam Firstenberg, I can’t deny that Florentine takes his action sequences to a different stratosphere… chalk up another point for Shadow of a Tear.
REVENGE OF THE NINJA – 1 NINJA: SHADOW OF A TEAR – 2
SKIN TO WIN BONUS ROUND
While I appreciate the vengeance fueled Shadow of a Tear and all the amazing gritty and raw action it threw at the audience, it really didn’t leave much room for any sex appeal. Revenge of the Ninja on the other hand had no problem sprinkling in some some sex appeal in the form of Ashley Ferrare (Cyclone) through out the film. Whether she was sparring without any pants on or getting molested by Braden or his heavy sumo servant played by the legendary Professor Toru Tanaka or she was tied up in a hot tub wearing next to nothing, Ferrare brought the goods. I was as mesmerized as Kane Kosugi in the picture above when I saw this movie back in the day.
REVENGE OF THE NINJA – 2 NINJA: SHADOW OF A TEAR – 2
It is time to turn this battle over for our critics to decide… kind of like the ringside judges at a boxing event we consult two of the most respected movie websites on the Internet to see where Revenge of the Ninja and Ninja: Shadow of a Tear rank with them…
Shadow of a Tear has a 6.2 rating on IMDb, narrowly edging out Revenge of the Ninja’s 6.1 rating.
Over at Rotten Tomatoes, Revenge of the Ninja has a 57% audience approval rating. Ninja: Shadow of a Tear has a 43% approval rating.
The critics are split and we are at a stalemate.
REVENGE OF THE NINJA – 3 NINJA: SHADOW OF A TEAR – 3
There was only one entity that could effectively break this tie, we turned to the action fanatics that follow us on Twitter and asked them to decide the fate of this Ninjutsu battle. It was a real nail biter, but the results are in… 54% of the fans that voted chose Revenge of the Ninja over Ninja: Shadow of a Tear.
I can’t say that I disagree, I have gone on record a number of times stating that Revenge of the Ninja is Shô Kosugi’s best work and it is obvious I’m not the only one that feels that way. It was a fantastic fight but only one could win.
FINAL SCORE: REVENGE OF THE NINJA – 4 NINJA: SHADOW OF A TEAR – 3