The 21st century has so far seen our cinema screens crammed with hordes of vampires and zombies. But these mythical monsters pale in comparison to the ultra-violence and high-octane action delivered by the string of ninja movies that delighted movie fans in the 1980s.
These low-budget gems were notable not only for their amazing VHS artwork, but also for the incredible fight scene choreography that meant that movies like 1983’s Duel to the Death and 1982’s The Five Element Ninjas quickly became the blueprint for all manner of ninja spinoffs.
Inevitably the ninja genre became a parody of itself with everything from Godfrey Ho’s dozens of low-budget ninja movies to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and a wave of video games and sloty online all aiming to cash in on the ninja trend.
As a result ninjas seemed to drop out of fashion in the 1990s, and ever since then, there’s been a shuriken-shaped hole in the 21st century film scene. However, things started to pick up with 2005’s Shinobi: Heart Under Blade that used a romantic pretext to reacquaint Japanese audiences with their nation’s fearsome warriors.
And despite many critics wondering whether there has actually been a decent ninja movie, we’ve been starting to notice how these black-clad assassins are starting to make a reappearance in all manner of popular culture.
2009 saw the likes of Ninja Assassin attempting to bring a touch of Hollywood production values to the genre, whilst the year also saw Scott Adkins starring in the pretty good ninja movie that had a well-received sequel Ninja: Shadow of a Tear released in 2013.
And the gaming realm has also had wide range of tributes to the martial arts genre with everything from 2012’s excellent Mark of the Ninja delighting Xbox gamers, to Betway’s Kung Fu Monkey featuring amongst hundreds of slots and casino games that shows just how widespread ninja culture is becoming.
Whilst 2014’s Ninja Apocalypse might have been a bit of a dud, it’s hoped that we’ll start to see a few more ninja movies in the pipeline soon. Already the celebrated Japanese action director Yoshihiro Nakamura has announced that he’s working on The Land of the Ninjas that will bring all manner of warlords and extreme choreography to our screens in 2017.
And with even the mobile game Fruit Ninja due to get a big-budget Hollywood adaptation, it won’t just be those casino games that will be delivering plenty of ninja action in the coming months.