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If you’ve been watching tv lately, and I know you have, or have been to the movies recently, then you’ve seen a trailer for the new movie Ninja Assassin.  Honestly, I’m kinda psyched about the movie.  It looks sweet.  But, this brings up an important question: Where have all the ninja’s gone?  This year we’ve been lucky enough to have three ninja’s on the big screen, the Assassin, Snake Eyes, and Storm Shadow.  I haven’t seen GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra yet, but I don’t have too.  I like Storm Shadow, but I’ve always been a Snake Eyes man, and with Ray Park behind the slotted mask I’m good.  I was on board with him playing the word go.  My reasons for not having seen the movie has nothing to do with him.  As Peter David would say, But I Digress… 

So, there has been a serious lack of ninja movies for the past two decades.  In the eighties, ninjas were everywhere.  I’m not just talking giant turtles, either.  You had the American Ninja movies with Michael Dudikoff, The Master tv series with Lee Van Cleef, Revenge of the Ninja, Pray For Death, I could go on and on, but you know the deal.  Now, ninja’s haven’t just disappeared in a puff of smoke.  They’ve been around, but in the background, or in the occasional not so great movie like The Hunted with Christopher Lambert. 

What happened?!  We didn’t stop loving ninja’s, but apparently someone did.  Or maybe it’s the Hollywood cycle.  The market was flooded with so many ninja movies, and bad ones at that, that it took 20 years before we could bring them back in a fashion that wasn’t overly kid friendly.  No offense to any green fighting renaissance masters.  Raphael is the man!  But, was it oversaturation of movies that drove the ninjas to obscurity?  Did low budget studios and bad production values do what no samurais ever could, and cripple the brotherhood of ninjas?  I think ninjas ultimately suffered from what I like to call Superman II syndrome.  Remember all that crap in Supes II that was completely out of character?  Same here.  You had movies like Ninja III: The Domination, where the spirit of a ninja takes over the body of a woman to get revenge for his death.  Really?  I can believe that chefs can toss fruit (tomato is a fruit) into the air and pin it to a wall with a thrown knife, but I can’t believe that ninja’s can transfer their souls into other people.  Nor do I believe that they can change the color and style of their ninja garb with meditation and some hand symbols.  I even believe that if you kill a ninja their bodies can dissolve into a pile of goo, but I don’t believe that they can be killed by some lucky, unskilled Average Joe with a gun.  So, that’s what I believe happened to ninjas.  They were diluted to the point that the essence of who they were was lost among modern myth and bull crap.  Plus, no ninja movie should ever have an 80’s music score.  We can’t have Huey Lewis singing: The Power of Shuriken.  “The power of a shuriken is a curious thing.  Cleave one man’s heart, and another man’s brain.  Thrown with accuracy from an Asian named Ken.  That’s the power, the power of shuriken.” 

But, maybe this was their plan all along.  Ninjas work in shadows and secrecy.  When the light is shined on them it exposes centuries of secrets and traditions that man was not meant to know.  What better way to hide yourself.  Wouldn’t it be just like a ninja to use misdirection to move people’s attention off them, and allow them to retreat back into the shadows once again?  Yes.  I believe that we were all prey to a trick of the modern ninja.  We cannot allow ourselves to lose track of them again.  We must stay vigilant and keep our guard up.  Don’t allow ourselves to be distracted by fake superstition and smoke and mirrors.  Keep the light on them, and expose their tricks and kung fu treachery.  Especially kung fu treachery.  We must keep ninjas in the mainstream and active.  Don’t let them slip away again.  We can’t afford to. 




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