If you were to choose, would you rather be a ninja or a pirate? Ninja, probably.
In case you’re not quite sure what they are, ninja or shinobi are a group of people who are shrouded in mystery. They are stealthy warriors whose identities remain unknown.
The ninja first appeared in Japan in the 15th century, apparently out of necessity because of a war that needed people to perform clandestine activities, assassinations, and intelligence gathering. However, they needed outside mercenaries to bring about such acts. Samurais, although known to kill, are bound by the samurai code, which limits their capacity in doing so. Ninja have the capacity for martial arts and various fighting tactics, can use camouflage, explosive, and different types of weapons—and yet their capacity for killing has been embellished so much that it became a sort of a myth.
Still, the fascination with these group is not lost on us, and many movies about them have been made, although there’s no certainty up to which extent they showed the truth. Here are some ninja movies that you may want to watch, though:
Ninja, A Band of Assassins (1962)
Based on a popular series of novels with a total of eight films in the franchise, this stars Raizo Ichiwaka and is about a rogue ninja named Goemon Ishikawa, who goes against a warlord who despises the practice of Buddhism. The plot is a bit difficult to follow, but it has a lot going on in it, which is safe to say that it’s fun to watch.
The Third Ninja (1964)
The gritty story resembles film noir and portrays a ninja and their techniques in a realistic manner, which is understandable as early Japanese ninja films were concerned with realism. The film is about a ninja who is sent out to assassinate a warlord. Three other ninja loyal to the said warlord found out about the plan and set out to put a stop on it.
Enter the Ninja (1981)
The film that gave way to ninja explosion in America has Franco Nero as a ninja, heading to the Philippines to visit a friend. Unfortunately, things weren’t smooth-sailing, as he ended up having to use his ninja skills to battle thugs and a former rival.
Originally starring Mike Stone, he was cut from the film because producers were not satisfied with his acting. However, due to the fact that Nero had no martial arts training, Stone was kept on to do most of the stunts.
Revenge of the Ninja (1983)
Shane Kosugi plays a father who moves to America with his son to start over after his family was murdered by ninjas. He starts a doll shop with a friend, except that it turned out his friend was using the dolls to ship heroin. Due to the troubles the business brings, Kosugi must don his ninja garbs to kick some ass.
Shaolin vs. Ninja (1983)
The film is a nonstop battle between Japanese ninja and shaolin monks, starring Alexander Lo. This is a fun film, mostly because of ninja and shaolin monks fighting—because what else would you need in a ninja film?
Pray for Death (1985)
This Cannon Films entry is about a man from a ninja clan who decided to move to America because of his wife. They run a restaurant that is being used as a mob drop-off location, but when things go wrong, the mob goes after him and his family, forcing him to get back to his ninja roots.
The film has its moments, but when you really think about it, is it fair for a ninja to fight a mob? Sure, they’re menacing, but they’re not exactly masters of fight tactics.
Sakura Killers (1987)
The story is flimsy and improbable, but it is about a pair of ninja attacks in the United States that lead to some important tapes, which led a couple of guys off to Taiwan to figure out what exactly is going on. They get a crash course in the art of ninja that instantly turned them into masters, thus the reason of the film being very unrealistic. The fight scenes are actually worth watching, though.
Legend of the Shadowy Ninja: The Ninja Dragon (1990)
Aliens, the Yakuza, and ninja in one film? That might be fun—except that production made it look like a bad TV movie. But if you like having aliens in a ninja movie, this is the one to watch, because well, how often do people think these go together in the first place?