A trio of recent releases provides further gives proof that East Asian filmmakers know how to get weird better than almost anyone. Find our thoughts below on the bizarre trio of director Niwatsukino Norihiro's monk-rotica Suffering of Ninko (Third Window Films), Miike Takashi's manga adaptation As the Gods Will (FUNimation), and Leo Zhang's bizarro sci-fi Jackie Chan vehicle Bleeding Steel (Lionsgate).
A young man yearns for the peace of mind and purpose of asceticism through Buddhist monkhood. Unfortunately for Ninko, he is inexplicably irresistible to women, making his attempt to leave behind Earthly desire and pleasure all but impossible. They harass him in the street, literally flinging themselves at him, heaving bosoms exposed when he appears. His popularity vexes him and breeds an uncharacteristic envy in his monk companions.
One day, upon venturing into the woods, he comes across a kind of female sexual demon who seeks to overpower him with her own wanton desire. Ninko resists, but soon finds that his demon may be closer to destroying him than he thinks.
Director Niwatsukino Norihiro's directorial debut, Suffering of Ninko, is a unique exploration of the nature of desire, the challenge of fighting nature, and a downright bizarre tale of sex demons that captures the imagination quickly and, at 70 minutes, tells its story succinctly and effectively. It's a weird film filled with stylistic filigree and the occasional psychedelic interlude, but its otherwise relatively straight-forward in its narrative. Most importantly, it's a lot of fun, and the kind of bold and unusual filmmaking that will appeal to fans of Japanese exploitation as well as those more steeped in traditional period films. Definitely worth checking out.
Third Window Films Dual Format (Blu-ray/DVD) release is exceptional looking. It's a new film, so the digital-to-digital transfer is great and the original lossless stereo soundtrack is very effective. It's also worth noting that though the film got a US release, that disc is only DVD, and the film really benefits from this Blu-ray upgrade if you are Region B compatible.
The disc comes with two significant bonus features that are unique to this release. First up is a 45 minute interview with the director in which he discusses his influences, and impetus to make the film at length. Niwatsukino is an eloquent speaker whose insights add a lot to the audiences understanding of the film. Also included is his short film Strawberry Jam in which young love is expressed through the an obsession with the titular spread.
This is a great disc and Suffering of Ninko is a really interesting little film that is sure to make fans of anyone who gives it a chance.