The Ninja War of Torakage (2015)

Directed by
Fun and stylish ninja silliness
Reviewed by Simon on 2023-03-25

Torakage and Tsukikage retire from the ninja life to start a family, but their former master Gensai Shinonome requires their services once more, so she kidnaps their son and gives them an ultimatum to retrieve a precious artefact from enemy territory. Their quest takes them to a city ruled by a despot, backed by a religion of human sacrifice, with several rival ninjas on their tail.

I've been wanting to watch THE NINJA WAR OF TORAKAGE for years, even had a copy for a while, but the only English subtitles I could find for it were incomprehensible machine translated garbage. I think it's fair to say that a ninja movie directed by Japan's splatter king, featuring an evil Eihi Shiina, is objectively the most exciting prospect in cinema... so how can there be no English-subtitled release after nearly a decade?

Still, it did at least serve as a great test case for GPT-Subtrans, a new subtitle translation tool that uses ChatGPT as the translation engine. The big difference between Chat GPT and e.g. Google Translate is that it understands what it is reading, building up context as it goes. It's still not perfect and needed a human hand to fix parts where it got confused or went off the rails, but the results are a huge improvement, and now on OpenSubtitles.

With a comprehensible translation the film is revealed to be another Yoshihiro Nishimura budget banger. There's not much of his trademark splatter, and way less arterial spray than you might expect, but it compensates with plenty of nicely choreographed action and that boundless Nishimura creativity in buckets.

The film ends on a "To Be Continued..." but it's not a cliff-hanger, this film is perfectly self-contained - which is lucky since the 2nd film never got made. Apparently there is a spin-off coming this year focussed on the character Onimanji, who is probably more interesting to be honest, and it's great to see veteran stuntman Masanori Mimoto's star continue to rise. He serves as the action director as well, so the film is sure to be a treat!

Maybe, just maybe, it will finally lead to THE NINJA WAR OF TORAKAGE getting the wide release it deserves, too.