This is hands down the best ninja series ever: Shadow Warriors (Kage no Gundan). Sonny Chiba played Hattori Hanzo in Kill Bill 2, but as a swordmaker; in the 1980s television show from Japan, Shadow Warriors (Kage no Gundan), Sonny Chiba played Hattori Hanzo as the leader of a most kick-ass ninja clan, the Iga, chronicling the Iga clan’s heroics pursuits in upholding peace and order at the behest of a somewhat trusting government agent in the budding Ieyasu government, while having to survive and operate in the shadows as outlaws, as Hattori Hanzo’s father, the previous leader of the Iga clan, was falsely accused of treachery and killed by the government.
If You Ever Liked Ninjas You Must See This Series
Pirates definitely lose this battle. Forget everything you’ve ever seen or learned about ninjas, if you’ve only seen American ninja movies and TV shows, as well as Real Ultimate Power. This series is realistic, complex, filled with political intrigue and semi-historical reflections–this is about what real human ninjas actually did in ancient Japan as spies and power brokers, hired by, and working against various political and business factions, as well as dealing with other ninja clans. Overlay the awesome action on top of that, plus some great 70s fusion music action and you’re in for quite a treat.
Compared to a lot of newer Asian Crouching Tiger, Hero, Jet Li-type martial arts action films, this action is very refreshingly realistic. There’s no gratuitous, impossible wire-fu, no flying humans, and no slow-motion impossible superhuman stuff here–sure, these ninjas can jump up to the top of a roof, but it seems more realistic like parkour. Most of the action seems feasible, like the real-nitty-gritty action a human ninja spy might encounter in ancient Japan. The relative realism adds to the excitement–mix in the fascinating political and historical storylines and gorgeous Japanese scenery, and you’ve got quite an awesome show.
If you like the soundtrack, you might really like this album: Joji Hirota: Wheel of Fortune, from the 70s, filled with lots of funky bass and drumming, analog synths, and lots of piano and koto, kind of like a lot of the music on Kage no Gundan.