I am getting sick and tired of both Zombies and Vampires. No seriously, I am wore out from watching the latest television shows, novels and films featuring these undead stock characters. By now, just about every other form of media has something to do with either Zombies or Vampires and quite frankly, I am sick of it. Now do not get me wrong, its not that I hate Zombies or Vampires. Even I have used both of them in various stories I have written. Its just these two stock characters are now the big thing in media with just about every single story featuring something to do with them. It seems that if you have seen a Zombie or Vampire movie, you have seen them all! Every single Zombie flick features the same overdone storyline of a Zombie Outbreak and the survivors escaping the big city for refuge in the countryside or an island. Vampires stories also feature the same overused tropes regarding romance and some rivalry with the Werewolves. Not to mention the poor unfortunate Humans who are stuck in the middle of this rivalry spanning centuries. I do not have to even list either a Zombie or a Vampire flick that features either. In fact, using these overdone storylines, one can create their own!
Do you know what I personally want to see make a comeback in pop culture? I want to see a return of the Ninja stock character in Hollywood. Just saying the word Ninja conjures up the image of the silent assassin clad in black with a sword and throwing stars. I do not even have to describe what a Ninja looks like in detail. The word alone produces that intimidating figure which in so few words describes so much. Besides, what could be more awesome than someone clad in black sneaking up on someone and slitting their throat wide open? Ninjas seem to have this type of assassination down to a science. They know how to kill, when to kill, and where to kill leaving no trace of their presence and that there is what makes a Ninja deadly. What you do not see here is a walking corpse eating brains or a blood sucking maniac in leather. What you see with a Ninja (if you ever live to see one) is a warrior who will kill you as soon as look at you. Fortunately, there are some Ninjas which fight on side of good and will fight with the same deadliness to keep his or her targets safe from harm.
But, there are serious problems which may hold back a return of Ninjas to pop culture. The problems that exist are not the Ninjas themselves. On their own, Ninjas are very formidable opponents if not dependable allies. Having a Ninja on your side is plenty when it comes to either killing your enemy or gathering information. Their methods of fighting, weaponry (both ancient and modern) and their overall origins are enough to make everyone take notice of their potential. Lastly, when it comes to martial arts, Ninjas are something to spur an interest in it even for self defense reasons or for sport.
As for the aforementioned problems that exist in regards to Ninjas returning to pop culture, it relates heavily to the film genre itself. Back in the Eighties, Ninjas were the rave. Everywhere you could see Ninjas battling it out as either lovable heroes or hated villains. The problem was that most of the Ninja movies were just Hong Kong Films redubbed in terrible English. It also did not help matters that Hong Kong Director Godfrey Ho literally flooded the market with cut-and-paste films which largely had virtually nothing to do with Ninjas! The sad truth was that his so-called Ninja films were mostly crime dramas that contained an interlude Ninja fight. Even American made ninja films in the Eighties has their own set of problems. The American Ninja film series for example was good on its own merits, However, it had the problems of limited special effects, average acting and its sequels being vastly inferior to the first film. Still, people loved them and found them to be watchable. However, considering that these Ninja movies were done rather poorly, its hard to find anything redeeming about them in this day and age. Those old ninja films from the Eighties are now seen as being more laughable than entertaining.
This problem has not left the Ninja Film Genre it seems. One tragic example is found in the the most recent Ninja movie called Ninja Assassin. Yes, it seems upsetting that this great movie failed to reawaken the Ninja stock character. I largely blame this on the Wachowskis trying to make the fights reminiscent of their Matrix Trilogy. Now this is not to say Ninja Assassin was a bad film, they tried their best and it was not good enough. Still it is worth viewing even if it did not measure up to what makes a Hollywood blockbuster. Even Independent Ninja Films seem to suffer from this fate as well. The Nu Image film entitled Ninja and its sequel Ninja: Shadow of Tears do not seem to rank very high on movie review sites. (However, a strange irony is that these two films are seen to be in many ways vastly superior to Ninja Assassin.) It would seem that major Hollywood studios have virtually no idea how to create a magnificent Ninja Film. Sure, some film makers may have some understanding of the Ninja Film Genre. However, something just does not seem to connect. As for the Independent film studios, while they have a some grasp on the genre, what holds them back is their budget. Thus, in a way, Ninja Films from either a major or an independent studio seem to cancel each other out.
Now, if Ninjas do have any place where they seem to thrive, its Video Games. I cannot begin to name one Ninja based video game which was mediocre in one way or another. While Ninja based video games are superb, I would like to see a Ninja Film that was just as equally great. I believe this can be done by fixing the Ninja Film Genre to where people for once actually cared about it. Maybe it is time for Hollywood to stop reusing the same methods that are not preforming up to par when it comes to creating a great Ninja Film. My solutions to fix the Ninja Film Genre are as follows:
Why should I care about these Ninjas? It is not just their names or what they are after that I care about, there are various other attributes which are just as important. What are their inner struggles? What do they hope to prove? It is not only who are they, but why are they the way they are. Ninjas are not just killing machines, they are also people who are capable of so much more than murder.
2. Modernize Their Weaponry.
While throwing stars and swords seem to be awesome, I want to see Ninjas armed with machine guns, pistols and bombs as well. This repeated use of ancient weaponry does not help them expand and limits Ninjas greatly. I say mix it up with weaponry both ancient and modern.
3, Actually Use Real Ninja Tactics.
Contrary to Hollywood belief, Ninjas did not always wear black outfits normally depicted in fiction. In real life, Ninjas wore a series of disguises which allowed them to blend in their surroundings. In Feudal Japan, these disguises included Priests, Farmers, and Merchants. Perhaps we could see a Modern Ninja film where the Ninjas are disguised as News Reporters, Politicians, Businessmen, Missionaries, and any possible profession. The possibilities are endless!
4. Show Us What They Are Like When They Are Not Being Ninjas.
If the Ninjas are depicted as being on the side of Good, I want to see what their normal lives are like when they are not battling the forces of darkness. These include interactions with non-Ninja characters who are friends, family, co-workers and maybe their fellow ninjas when they are not fighting.
5. Be Original!
What I am fed up with and what makes the Ninja Film Genre so mediocre is the lack of originality. Come on, Hollywood. Show me something new that has never been done before! Not just the ideas I have posted but countless overs that could be used to create a revived interest in the Ninja Film Genre. What I want to see is not only a renewed interest in the Ninja Film Genre but something that has never been done before. These could include Ninja Elves, Ninjas in Outer Space, or maybe Ninja Vampires (yes, I said that). Still, what is Hollywood waiting for!? Perhaps if they are looking for someone who is willing to write this, perhaps Hollywood should drop a line. I gladly await any and all who are interested in me writing a Ninja Film featuring the many things I have mentioned.
In closing, while I do want to see the Ninja Film Genre to make a major comeback, what I want to see is an improvement on it as well. What could be the problem regarding the entire Ninja Film Genre is the fear of creating something new and original. Maybe the fact is if writers of the Ninja Film Genre would do something never done before, perhaps the Genre could be revived. I say its time to stop reusing the same old tropes and really start experimenting with something that would make the Ninja Film Genre up to par with the current trends in Hollywood film making.