Star-crossed lovers and samurai superheroes cross swords and mix genres to little satisfaction in “Shinobi,” a period actioner from Japan. Presence of local heartthrob Joe Odagiri compensated for the story’s weaknesses and helped garner strong B.O. upon domestic release in September. Pic also performed well in Taiwan, but the further it ventures from Asian territories the more returns are likely to diminish. Asian-themed fests catering to popular culture will want to look; ancillary cult audience is assured.
In feudal Japan, two warring tribes of magical samurai clans known as shinobi, are separated by a mountain range and years of distrust. Hopes of bridging that gap via a clandestine romance between Oboro (Yukie Nakama) and Gennosuke (Odagiri) are dashed when a war breaks out between the two clans. Each tribe selects its top five warriors (including the lovers, natch) and pic begins to resemble a superhero squareoff with familiar superpowers that will recall both “Spider-man” and the “X-men” franchises. Helming is functional, but cannot fulfill the action ambitions of the piece. Lensing looks promising, but at market sesh caught, Shochiku opted to present pic via DV. Other tech credits are pro.