Director Ryuhei Kitamura has left the building. Kitamura, for the uninitiated or stupid, is the main man behind such great films like Versus, Sky High, Aragami, and the original Azumi. He then went on to make Godzilla: Final Wars instead of the sequel to his ninja-bang whirlwind flick (Azumi... Keep up now). So instead, the powers that be passed the directing duties of Azumi 2 - Death or Love to Shusuke Kaneko, the man who made the three 1990s Gamera movies (which were pretty kick ass in and of themselves), and the 2001 Godzilla pic, Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (which was cheezy, but a real monster-blast itself). When I heard the news that he was going to do Azumi 2, I remember thinking that he was probably the one person on the planet who might be able to actually do a better job with the source material than Kitamura himself! Sweeeeet.
Unfortunately reality is often unkind, and sometimes foot-to-the-balls mean. Azumi 2 is one of those times; and my nuts still sting. It's not even half the film that the first one was. The first Azumi starts out with these goofy, teenage, ninja kids playing around and acting all goofy (almost vomit-inducingly goofy), but then in the blink of an eye it turns all dark and ninja-violent. It never returns to the goofy gayness of the first 10 minutes, and for that I am most thankful. Azumi 2 on the other hand, is almost totally set in that unforgiving "goofy gay" tone. When it tries to get serious, it just fails because the only time that the characters interact with each other they seem to be middle school kids on the playground telling retarded knock knock jokes. All gay and goofy smiles and lame as fuck dialogue. URGH!! Talk about wasted potential.
What I'm pissed off about most here is how great the lead up from the original movie to Death or Love was, and how Kaneko completely and utterly squandered it (I refuse to blame the writers, as the first movie had a shitty script too, but was still wicked awesome). At the end of Azumi 1, Azumi and her ninja gang are down to only 2 ninjas after that huge battle with Asian Brendan Frazier-in-a-wig and that dog/monkey man. Azumi still has the drive (and uber ninja-bangtastic ability) to kill the second of three revolutionists, and we end the film with her meeting back up with her injured comrade, Nagara, and they start planning to take down the final cunt-rag feudal lord who's trying to disrupt the budding Tokugawa era. But then Death or Love begins... The sword fights right off the bat are lame as hell, and under rehearsed. Quite often you can see two actors swinging their katana at each other in smooth, sort-of fast-motion arcs, but then, right before they're going to sail on by the other, the actors noticeably move them to connect, instead of delivering a killing blow. It's like they're in a 2nd grade performance of Camelot or something, where the kids move their cardboard swords with such deliberatingly slow speed that you know they're planning to block a shot a mile away before they actually do. You just want to yell "Booooo! You suck!" and start throwing rotten tomatoes at them even after they start crying for their mommies. Fuck those second grade under or overacting pussies!
So, it's cheezier than the first one... That by itself wouldn't normally make me curse Director Kaneko's name repeatedly while watching this thing. Like I said, his vision of Godzilla was mighty cheezy, but mighty fun. Hell, even the first Azumi was pretty cheddar the whole way through. Cheese isn't necessarily a bad thing; but the following is: They left the monkey-dog-man out of the whole movie. Unless I'm just totally misremembering the end of the first movie, that guy made it away scott free (this is entirely possible as I do remember me actually fucking Alicia Silverstone back when she was hot, and I'm pretty sure that that didn't really happen... I definitely would have taken a picture or a 4 hour video of us in the sack). I was so looking forward to that reunion-fight between him and Azumi. Monkey-dog-man's omission was bad, but the whole cheapness of the production was even worse. They couldn't even afford extras in this movie. For example, this is supposed to be the ruling Tokugawa shogunate that hired Azumi's ninja crew, yet their main army for guarding the fucking Shogun himself was like 12 fucking ninjas!... Not even samurai, but ninjas... I just wanted to add that last part to show how stupid the script was, but I digress.
Beyond the lack of budget (which is apparent beyond the lack of extras in that the conservative amount of SFX were done on a Commodore 64), the outright stupidity of the characters' actions will smack you in the face time and time again and make you think you're watching a bad ABC television movie of the week. Okay, so the Shogun only has 12 ninjas guarding him and moving him to a secure location at one point in the movie... I might be able to buy that... Sure, why not. Keep it secret, keep it quiet. It could be believable. But HOW do the ninjas move their lord to the Shogun Safehouse? Not by moving silently and deadly through the thick forests at night and staying hidden in unmapped caves during the day. Nope. They think that the best defense is stupidity: They move the old fart on foot through the only main road through the country in broad fucking daylight.... The ninjas all wear black too. That almost makes them totally invisible against the light brown/tan, 10 yard-wide, dirt road. If this is how ninjas normally think, then I'm glad they went extinct thousands of years ago.
Okay, the fights were sucky and unimaginative, the acting reeked more than my great-grandma's Depends after we forced her to join us on chili night, and the entire budget was worse than that of a single Dr. Who episode... Was there anything good about Azumi 2, you ask? Yes. Yes, there were a few things that I liked about it, but they felt like wasted ideas. The main ninja bad guys that Azumi and her helpless/hapless crew have to ninja-fight this time around are pretty inventive. The ninja-chick wearing the armor with the nipple-chains (chaining the two nipples together) was a joy to look at, and the big bruiser with the boomerang-like sword/staff was pretty cool too. But my faves were the bear-ninja-guy and the ninja-spy, Gogo Yubari. Gogo is just a hot, little, ninja-bitch (and if you couldn't tell she was a spy by the miles-away foreshadowing that Kaneko dumped all over her, then you should donate your unused grey matter to science, so that they can study fucktardedness in its most basic form). The bear-ninja-guy (actually just a guy in a pedobear-like costume) had the cool weapon of the "razor-wire spider's web:" He leads his victims into a heavily wooded or bamboo infested area, then basically spins a web of razor wire, high and low, all around his enemy while throwing things at them from a distance and letting them back up into the wire and get all sliced to sushi... That's about all I liked in the film: The bad guys themselves. What made even those cool moments suck is just how easily the bad guys get whacked. All four of them die in a matter of minutes, and with still about 1/3 of the movie left to go. They die so stupidly too... And what I don't get is did that bear-ninja really coat all 200 yards of razor wire with poison?... That could get expensive, and dangerous as he would have to tote all that shit around till he was able to trap his opponent in the forest. Plus, that poison wasn't very deadly, as it may quickly infect a person, but then after approximately 10 minutes of bed rest (and NO antidote), the poisoned person is "fuckin' A" honkey dorey again. Shitty script.
The ending sucked too. It was sooooo fucking anticlimactic. All the big, bad enemy ninja are already dead! There's absolutely no drama as Azumi faces her final challenge. Oh man, seriously, just pretend that the first movie was all they ever did. This steaming turd is all rotten. And I was so looking forward to it too... Sigh. It's kind of like being good all year, and waking up on Christmas morning to find that all Santa left you was a big dump in your stocking. You're all like, "WTF, Santa?! I thought you liked me... You brought me that PS2 last year, and you even gave me that coupon for a freebie at Madam Sally's Bordello O' Beauts the year before that.. Fuck you, Santa! Fuck your little elves too! Oh yeah, I bet you DO fuck them! You elf-molesting cocksmoke!"
Happy ninja days, people! Yes, the ninjas are the cool of the cool, daddy-oh! Ooooh, Kuni loves Azumi. Kuni will have Azumi baby, but only with sex payment. Now Kuni has to know if Azumi loves Kuni. If she does not love Kuni, how is Kuni supposed to raise Kuni baby on his own? You are very naughty bad, Azumi!... But Kuni will forgive, if you touch Kuni penis again and maybe kiss Kuni man balls.
As you may know, I'm all for strong women in the media. I like to see a woman doing things better than a man (which we can do about 90% of the time... One of the only things we can't do better is stink. Men are much better than us in that department [We can already pee standing up better than men]).... But if it means starring as the main assassin in a really bad ninja movie, well, then I don't want a woman to be better than a man like that... Did that make sense?
Woman power is good. Woman power in lame circumstances is bad. I want my women to be strong in GOOD things, not BAD things. It's like watching a movie character get fed up with how men treat her and end up on top by the end... I like that. But watching a porno where the woman character winds up on top is just... Icky. Azuni 2 is just icky.