Curse of the Undead Yoma
A solitary ninja must seek out the one who was once best friend ... but his friend is no longer what he used to be, and the protagonist must slay him to avenge the loss of his friends and loved ones. Along the way, he fights vicious monsters and horrific supernatural beings, and he finds that not all is at it seems in medieval war-torn Japan.
Inevitably, any movie in this genre is going to be compared to the benchmark film, Ninja Scroll, in terms of pacing, action, and, of course, violent content. Yoma is four years older, without quite as much flash as its younger brother, but with all the atmosphere, and probably a little more credibility. That doesn't necessarily mean it's better, however.
The plot is your typical ninja-kills-a-LOT-of-monsters cliche, with supernatural beings pitted against our emotionless hero what's-his-name. Along the way, he loses someone he loves (in a cruel twist of fate at the end of the first half, which is actually semi-clever, plotwise) and, of course, his best friend, who you probably figured out by now, is not exactly a normal Japanese boy by any means. The animation, though dated, is good, if on the dull side (you can only have SO much darkness in a feature, ya know). The characterization is rather unmemorable, with fairly stock characters and enemies that, though interesting as monsters, have no real personalities, but rather, seem to live for the express purpose of killing (or, actually, being killed by) our brave protagonist. And our hero isn't exactly Mr. Congeniality, either. Yawn.
The key to this short series, of course, is the action, and there's plenty of it to go around. It's basically your animated horror action comic, and if you like this kind of stuff, it's definitely worth a watch, though it doesn't quite measure up to the high standards of Ninja Scroll.
If you're looking for epic plot, psychological exposes of main characters, or anything remotely socially redemptive, look elsewhere. However, if you need something to pass a dark, rainy evening with and are in the mood for a horror action flick, rent Curse of the Undead: Yoma, grab some popcorn, and enjoy. But don't blame me if you don't feel too good in the morning.
Not a masterpiece, but decent in its own right, if you like your anime bloody. — Carlos/Giancarla Ross
Recommended Audience: Though not as extreme as "that other ninja film," this feature is certainly not for the squeamish, or anyone younger than late teens. Lots of blood and gore to be had here.
Version(s) Viewed: VHS, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (2/2)
Curse of the Undead Yoma © 1989 Toho Co. / MPS
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