Last year, a Japanese movie was released in the U.S. with the promising title of The Legend of the Seven Monks. It sounded like it was going to be a cool epic with some decent martial arts action.
My expectations rose even further when I saw that Sonny Chiba and Yasuaki Kurata were the stars: I knew Chiba from his role as the conquering Chinese overlord from classic Chinese wu xia (martial arts heroes), quasi-fantasy movie, Stormriders. Kurata was a key part of what is probably the best martial arts movie every made: Fist of Legend starring Jet Li. Kurata played Fumio Funakoshi, a legendary karate master, and had a most excellent, highly skilled extended battle with Li. With such two skilled martial artists, this movie had to be good one.
It was not. I think I was starved for a mind-bending, high-flying kung fu movie.
The plot was very basic. Seven descendants from monks that originally sealed an evil demon are summoned when the demon escapes. The descendants are teens ranging from gangster girl to geek, and they go through training and team building in order to face the demon. The delivery of the story was stilted and awkward, and the martial arts action was sadly not the least bit memorable.
When I finally scrounged up enough dough to purchase Naruto: Rise of the Ninja, I promptly popped it into my Xbox 360 and did not play it—I wandered through it.
In this game is a fully realized Konoha Village, the hometown of the spiky blonde ninja that has won a fair share of hearts around America and abroad. The game play is rather fun with the standard battle arcade option that allows you to duke it out with a friend. You can also opt for the story version where you basically get to play through the first 80 episodes of the show complete with animated cut scenes from the series.
Generally Rise of the Ninja has been criticized for its redundancy in many aspects, but I didn’t even get to that because I was too busy enjoying the sights and sounds of a Naruto ninja village come to life.
This game makes me wish that there was a World of Warcraft version of the Naruto universe, where you can start your own ninja village, design a logo, master special jutsu techniques as you level up in battles and buy digital ramen to replenish your health points. Someone send this article to Blizzard Entertainment!