Ninja: Shadow of a Tear

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Another Fantastic Fest is in the books, and once again we’re left counting down the days until next year. The fest continues to be the best week of the year for fans of the weird and the wonderful from all around the globe, and this year delivered on both counts. From Indian martial artists to detectives with Down Syndrome, from men reincarnated as flies to a blackly comic look at a school shooting, this year saw dozens of films that entertained, challenged, and amazed. Sure, there was also Machete Kills, but they can’t all be winners. Here are 9 that were:

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Ninja 2

American movies are messy, always shot so that you can’t actually see what is going on. I’m paraphrasing Ninja: Shadow of a Tear director Isaac Florentine, whose introduction to the premiere of his new movie at Fantastic Fest came packaged with a mission statement about what martial arts movies should be. In a refreshing and long-winded moment of honesty, the Israeli-born director who has studied martial arts for 40+ years in places like Sweden, spoke about the way the Japanese and Chinese shoot their fight scenes and how that has become a driving force in his visual style. A style on full display as he once again throws British ass-kicker Scott Adkins into the role of an American expatriate ninja warrior whose circumstances force him to seek revenge upon a drug lord in Burma. “The man who seeks revenge should dig two graves,” he’s told. “They’re going to need a lot more than that,” he responds.

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published: 04.17.2014
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published: 04.17.2014
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published: 04.17.2014
B-
published: 04.16.2014
B+

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