Krypt3ia

(Greek: κρυπτεία / krupteía, from κρυπτός / kruptós, “hidden, secret things”)

Archive for the ‘Ninja’ Category

Ninja, Samurai, Shogun, and Ronin

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ninja_red

Preface:

I cannot count the amount of times that someone has called this or that person a “Ninja” in the INFOSEC/Red Team community that we all inhabit. One cannot go to a hacker conference without seeing Ninja imagery in the artwork surrounding the business of digital security today and this allusion to the Ninja has been problematic for me for some time. I think my feelings on this are akin to the feelings of some who grind their teeth on hearing about another presentation on security that contains Sun Tzu quotes from the Art of War.  Recently though I have had some insights due to some reading as well as a series of incidents involving the Target story that got me thinking. My conclusion is this; “If we are going to use the imagery and call ourselves Ninja then we had better also look at the Samurai who defend their domains and their Shogun as well as the odd Ronin out there we run into”

To this end I am writing this post on the parallels today for those who wish to consider themselves Ninja as well as perhaps reach those defenders or “blue team” folks to understand the landscape here from a historical perspective as well as a tactical one. Given the nature of the threats today and the increasing use of unconventional warfare tactics in everyday compromises it is my opinion that we all must be much more versed with warfare as well as espionage in order to deal with the everyday job of compromising a network as well as defending it. This too also follows through to the idea that you must be able to deal with your particular “Shogun” and take their orders as well as advise them on the battles that you are waging.

So, if you want to consider yourself a Ninja Mr. pen-test red team-er then so shall I consider myself a Samurai. However, I will understand their meanings in the context of history, not Hollywood, and apply their traditions and capabilities to today’s battle on my Shogun’s network.

Ninja History:

The history of the Ninja is shrouded in mystery for many but the truth of the matter is that they were primarily two clans from Iga and Koga during the 14th century that are the wellspring of the story of Ninja. These were mountain ascetics at first and then commoner families or clans who passed down their teachings within the family for security’s sake. These Ninja were not bound by the Bushido as completely as the Samurai were but did have their core ideals emanate from the same code. The Ninja were specialists in unconventional warfare using common tools as weapons but their primary aegis was to not have to fight in the first place. A Ninja you see was in fact a spy more than anything else and their first tool in their arsenal was stealth. The use of disguises and psychological warfare were the first tenets outside of a command of their bodies as weapons and this made them a force to be dealt with that the Samurai often failed to do well.

The reason that the Samurai often failed to win against a Ninja was that the Samurai’s main goals were to die in battle honourably and to use no artifice in battle. The Ninja on the other hand used trickery and deception as their primary tools and this extended to individual fighting between the two which often times was not on a field of battle but instead at a gate to the castle or elsewhere where they were not prepared to fight. This is of course if the Ninja was forced into a battle in the first place. As one master put it; “The best ninja has no smell, leaves no name, and makes everybody wonder whether he existed.” so the first priority was never to be seen at all.

For more on Ninja go HERE

INFOSEC Ninja:

Given the quick primer above we then have to look at the dialectic today when these people are calling themselves Ninjas in our community. If we are to consider a Ninja then to be a warrior or adversary who uses unconventional warfare tactics and espionage techniques in the digital sphere many within the Red Teaming and Pen-Testing field “might” qualify. One has to ask though just how many of these red teams are using unconventional tactics like 0day to carry out their attacks as well as recruiting spies or physically infiltrating targets. This all depends on whether or not you are in fact allowed to take the gloves off and actually do things that an actual adversary would do. All too often I have seen penetration tests that would be called red teaming that had very limited scopes and ground rules that no self respecting Ninja would allow or abide by. So is this really a Ninja? One who follows the rules of engagement set forth by the target? Are they in fact then more of a Ronin or Samurai posing as a Ninja performing their task?

What I am trying to get at here is this;

  • Does following the rules of engagement on an assessment allow you to be called a Ninja?
  • Did you get in and get out without being seen or heard?
  • Did you use unconventional means or did you just use Metasploit?

Many guys out there I know personally are doing great work and I would call them Ninjas if it weren’t for my dislike of the whole hype and silliness around this imagery personified by Hollywood and now the INFOSEC community without the benefit of real historical context or understanding. As I mentioned above though increasingly this field of information security both aggressive and defensive is becoming more and more a pawn in a greater geopolitical game as well as field of battle and we need to catch up. The points I made just a bit ago about just how you carried out your penetration tests comes to bear here with adversaries like China and others who have no rules of engagement. They use whatever they can to get in and take the data they want and no amount of compliance like PCI will stop them or the common carder like Rescator and his crew. Unless we as a community can get it across to our Shogun’s (aka corporate America) that there are no rules we will then always see more Target breaches because they only followed the rules of PCI compliance and did no more.

EDIT:

I have been thinking about this post after watching an episode of TMNT (yes I watch Nick) and how the story line is including April O’Niel as a Kunoichi. A Kunoichi is a female ninja and they were also commonplace before the comic book world got their hands on the idea. Of course today you think Kunoichi and you may see something like “Shi” in your head. This was not necessarily the case but indeed there were female Ninja and they were often times inserted into situations like Anna Chapman was as an illegal and a honeytrap but they were exceedingly skilled in the same techniques as the men and equals if not more efficient.

Today there are many women Ninja in our business and it was an oversight on my part not to mention this designation. I am correcting this now though. I would like to however make the distinction that today’s Kunoichi is not just a pretty girl but there are many highly technical women in this business that can hack and to not acknowledge this is a disservice. This designation is not to separate the sexes and skills but to be inclusive where I had been remiss before in not thinking about including the term.

INFOSEC Samurai:

The opposite side of the coin for this argument is that the Blue Team side is in fact the hapless Samurai. Why are they the Samurai? Well, take a look at your average defender and you will see the similarities. The primary thing though is that the Blue Team is bound by the rules of the system in place or the Shogun they report to. In the case of corporate America your Shogun is your CSO/CISO/CIO and your Emperor is of course the CEO. The blue team cannot go outsides the confines of the rules set forth by the Shogun and the Emperor no matter how much you try and all too often it seems that the C level execs are hard to reach and consider the blue team more of a check box than anything else in today’s culture. Thus I add the title of “Hapless” to the Samurai because no matter how good the Samurai is he is always defined by the Bushido of the lord he or she works for.

In a battle against the Ninja (i.e. APT/Criminals/Mal-Actors) who use the tactics of unconventional warfare there is little that can be done by the Hapless Samurai who wears the shackles of corporate Bushido rules. How many of you out there have been hamstrung by policy or lack thereof in trying to address the unconventional war that is being waged today on all our networks by various actors? Again what I am trying to say is this;

  • How many times have you been told you cannot get a tool for prevention/detection because it costs too much and there is no budget?
  • How many times have you attempted to get the word out on security and awareness let’s say only to get a half hearted or any response at all?
  • How many times have you laid out the risks to your Shogun and been told that they would not fix the issues due to time/money/business continuity issues?

There are a host of questions I could ask but you get the gist here right? YOU are at the feet of your Shogun and your corporate emperor and you have little to no say in the direction of things. All you can do though is serve and serve with honor no matter the cost. Oh, and yeah, usually when the compromise happens who gets the blame and then is shuffled off to the unemployment line? Hey, at least it’s just that instead of being told to commit Seppuku right? Remember that you are the Infosec Samurai and learn to live with this because if you cannot, you will be very unhappy and your every day will be filled with angst and misery. If you take a real look at the Bushido code though or the Hagakure perhaps you can find meaning.

INFOSEC Shogun:

The Infosec Shogun is in fact the CSO or CISO in today’s corporate structure. These are the lords who, like the Shogun generals should be marshaling the troops and fighting the overall tactical battles. My experience to date has been that far too few of these Shogun’s had actual viable experience to be the Shogun and more often than not got their jobs by the fickle flying finger of fate. Of course this is changing now in more places but I would hasten to point you at the Target affair to show you otherwise. Given the information that has come out of Target so far there was no CISO or CSO Shogun but instead a CIO who had no real IT background to begin with. Unfortunately all too often this is the case with the CSO as well. What good is a general (Shogun/CSO/CISO) who has no experience in battle? How can one expect to win any battle with someone at the army’s head who has no idea what the conventions are never-mind the tactics to fight it?

Alternatively you may have a Shogun who does have experience and can give you direction as well as take counsel to fight the war but they too may be hamstrung by their emperor who holds them back. The idea here is that like it or not, whether you are literally in ancient Japan or the corporate boardroom today you are always reporting to someone and taking their orders. This is the key here, that while the Ninja may have basic orders they also were given greater purview on tactics and mission parameters and we, the hapless Samurai are not. We are governed by our corporate masters and to go outside the rules is to be let go. Remember this Blue Team Samurai as you prosecute your daily battles against the adversary who laughs at rules.

INFOSEC Ronin:

The last designation I would have you consider is the Infosec Ronin. The Ronin are master-less Samurai who often became more NInja than anything else historically. Some of these Ronin were in reality still Samurai but using the tactics of the Ninja to win the day for their Shogun but this was not the norm. In today’s world I would consider the consultant to be a Ronin. A consultant goes from job to job and does the bidding of the master of the day and in fact may have the latitude to tell the master that they are wrong. A Ronin may in fact operate as a Ninja primarily because they have no set master and this is rather liberating.

For the sake of this argument I am going to just say that the Ronin, one who is established can walk away from any contract if they are unhappy with the responses from their “master Shogun” and move on. This is the key to perhaps actually being an effective Samurai in some cases. It really does depend though on the master who has hired you to perform a job. I personally have walked away from clients because after the first pass of a final report they had decided that certain things were not worth re-mediating. If I feel that the client is only going to perform “check box” security then I am no longer willing to help them if I am in fact a Ronin. I know that some will say that this is just stupid and you will not make your pay day but I personally would rather be benefiting the security of a place than just giving it lip service wouldn’t you? Of course not many of us out there are in the position to do this and I will admit that my consulting is a side business to my main income so for me it is a bit of a luxury having this code of ethics. The Ronin though has a place at the information security table specifically next to the Ninja because they are not bound solidly by the rules of the emperor at that particular shogunate.

Unconventional Warfare  & INFOSEC:

Finally I would like to cover the idea of Unconventional Warfare and the state of INFOSEC today. As I have made statements about above, we are now in a place where information is power and all warfare with it is allowed. The advent of APT (Advanced Persistent Threats) and nation state actors has changed the paradigm of Information Security forever as much as networking has. We have seen the advent of many kinds of laws and rules being put in place to stop bad actors as well as force corporations to at least adhere to a modicum of security practices to protect their clients. Many of these, such as HIPAA or PCI-DSS have come out of Washington as toothless cudgels that corporations can just speak to as talking points and skate on actual practices. Alternatively many of these rules have little to no comprehension of actual technological issues nor address unconventional warfare tactics that are being used to attack systems and companies to steal data. On the whole nothing to date out there really will make a difference against a determined adversary and that knowledge needs to be common. Instead though it seems to be arcane and mysterious to many in power.

Until such time as ideas like Defense in Depth are more common and we have Shogun’s and emperors who understand not only how their business runs but their threatscape we will be doomed to failure. Of course one might also hasten to add that even with the best of the best we will always lose a battle or two and this is quite correct. The key though is to attempt to win the war itself and leave the battles to the day to day. Accept those we lose and learn from them to hopefully win the overall war later on. Unfortunately too many of the people that we the Samurai deal with are not at all aware and in many cases do not seem to care to understand the issues until they have been burned and burned badly (like Target)…

We, the Samurai face the battle today that no one has faced before. The threatscape is ever changing at the speed of light and the adversaries are many. Prepare for your daily battles knowing who you are and where you sit in the hierarchy. If you decide you want to be a Ninja understand that you too may be bound by the rules of the Shogun as your retainer. I want you all to think about the names we give ourselves and the perceptions we want others to have of us but most of all I want us all to be enlightened about our fight and who we are. Today it’s just a given that you must consider your networks are already compromised and that Ninja is in there stealthily stealing data and it more than likely isn’t one that you may be paying to test your security.

K.

Written by Krypt3ia

2014/03/26 at 17:41

Posted in Ninja

Not So 3R337 Kidz

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Once again we find ourselves following the story of a new uber dump of data on a Friday (Fuck FBI Friday’s) as they have been dubbed by the skiddies. It seems that 4cid 8urn, C3r3al Kill3r, and Zer0C00l once again have failed to deliver the goods in their #antisec campaign with their ManTech dump. ManTech, for those who don’t know, is a company that handles defense and government security contracts for such things as secure networks etc. The skiddies decided to try and haxx0r the Gibson and get the goods on the bad bad men at ManTech.

Once again, they failed.

The files are mostly UNCLASS (kids, that means UN-CLASSIFIED mmkay?) with a few SBU (Sensitive but UNCLASSIFIED) as well. Many of the files are just documents of finances, bills, resume’s and email addresses that frankly you could get with a good Googling session. Again, we are not impressed by this crap Lulz skiddies. I have told you once, and now I till tell you again, you are failing to deliver anything of interest really.

Now, if you were real APT, then you would have used the data in the excel sheets to create some nice phishing exploits and then gone on to root some good shit. But no, you aren’t that advanced are you? You just want to do the quick hit and dump your ‘booty’ to collect the love from your adoring, albeit stupid, fans. I am sure some of them are at home now wanking off to the idea that you have really stuck it to ManTech and by proxy ‘the man’

Well, you haven’t.. Not so 3r337 as Raz0r and Bl4d3 say.

What you keep failing to understand are sever key things here:

  1. The good shit is in more protected systems, ya know, like the ones Manning had access to
  2. You have no idea what you are taking or what you are dumping! Bitch please, understand the classification markings!
  3. It’s only important to your ‘movement’ if the data actually uncovers bad behavior on the part of the government!

And it’s on that last point I want to harp a little more on. You guys say you are exposing fraud and devious behavior (other than your own subversive tendencies?) and yet, you keep missing the mark. There have been no cohesive plots outed by you other than Aaron and HB Gary’s little foray into creating 0day and programs for propaganda tools online.

Yay you!… ehhh… not so much.

You certainly did spank Aaron though, and for that my top hat and monocle are off to you. He rather deserved what he got for being so God damned stupid. However, you must all understand that these are the standard operating procedures in warfare (PSYOPS, INFOWAR, PROPAGANDA) every nation plays the game and its just the way of life. So, unless you get some real data of a plan to use this type of tech by the US on the US, (other than Rupert & Co.) Once again, I am not really so impressed.

Of course, you have to know that you are now the target of all of those tools right? Not only by the US, but other nations as I have mentioned before. Do you really think that you have not opened the door for other nation states to attack using your name? No one mentioned yet that you are now considered domestic terrorists and could even be considered non domestic after you get caught? You have opened Pandora’s box and all the bad shit is coming.. And much of it is going to be aimed straight at you.

The ironic thing is this.. You have delivered shit. It’s the idea and the cover you have given other nation states or individuals that is key here. You say you can’t arrest an idea… I say certainly not! BUT They can arrest YOU and then make that IDEA not so appealing to the other skiddies once your prosecutions begin on national TV.

So keep it up.. That hornets nest won’t spew hundreds of angry wasps…

K.

ウェブ忍者が失敗する : Dox-ing, Disinformation, and The Fifth Battlespace

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Digital Ninja Fail: ウェブ忍者が失敗する

The recent arrests of alleged key members of LulzSec and Anonymous have been called into question by the ‘Web Ninja’s‘, a group of would be hackers who have been ‘DOX-ing” the anonymous hierarchy for some time now. Yesterday, they posted the following on their page concerning the arrest of a man from the Shetland Islands who is purported to be ‘Topiary‘ by the Met and SOCA.

Now, this is a bold statement for anyone who really knows what they are doing in the intelligence analysis field. So, it is my supposition that these guys have no clue about what they are doing by making bold assertions like this. The data they have is tenuous at best and by making such bold statements, I have to wonder if indeed the so called ‘Ninja’s” themselves might not be a tool of anonymous to in fact sow that disinformation.

Here are the facts as I see them;

  • To date, the federal authorities have not questioned anyone who was DOX’d by the Ninja’s that I am aware of
  • The individuals who were DOX’d that were investigated by the authorities were in fact outed by LulzSec/Anonymous themselves
  • Adrian Chen has spoken to the person that the Ninja’s have fingered and claims that he (said person) went to the authorities himself. So far he is still not a suspect.

So, taking into account these facts, I would have to say that the Ninja’s have failed in their stated mission so far and I would suffice to say that if they are indeed a part of a disinformation campaign, then that too has failed. After all, the police seem to be ignoring the data put on the interent by the likes of the Ninja’s in favour of other tried and true tactics. The primary tactic as I see it, is grab one individual and then get them to roll over on their compatriots in the face of massive jail time.

This pretty much works all the time as we, as human beings, are most willing to sacrifice others for the self. In the case of the likes of LulzSec skiddies, I would have to say that the ages of the players, and their generational tendencies will allow them to cut deals pretty quickly. It’s my assessment that they are in it for the self gratification and lulz, not for the altruism that the LulzSec and Anonymous press releases have been trying to have one believe. My assumption is that if indeed the 19 year old guy they popped in Scotland is involved with LulzSec, and is in fact Topiary, he will roll over soon enough.

I also believe that these are all untrained operatives and they have made and will make more mistakes. I am pretty sure that the alleged “leaderless” group has leaders AND that unlike a true guerrilla warfare cell, will know the other players personal details. Essentially, they have had no compartmentalisation and they will all fall eventually though interrogation and deal making. As I said before, the insider threat to the organisation is key here, and it was this idea I think the Ninja’s had.. Well, at least that was the original idea of the Ninja Warrior. They were spies who infiltrated the ranks and destroyed from within.

So far with these guys.. Not so much.

Welcome To Spook World: Disinformation Campaigns and Intelligence Analysis

Now, on the whole disinformation thing, I know that the Lulz and Anonymous have said that they are using disinformation as well to try and create a smoke screen. Frankly, all of the intelligence out there that is open source is suspect. Maltego map’s of end user names as I have shown in the past can be useful in gathering intelligence… Sometimes. For the most part, if a user keeps using a screen name in many places and ties that name to real data, then they can be tracked, but, it takes a lot of analysis and data gathering to do it. Though, many of the foot soldiers within the Anon movement are young and foolish enough to just keep using the same screen names for everything so there is a higher likelihood that the data being pulled up on Maltego and with Google searches is solid enough to make some justified conclusions.

With the more experienced people though, there has been some forethought and they have protected their identities as best they could. What became their real downfall was that they could not rise above petty infighting and dox-ing each other. Thus you have the start of the potential domino effect on the core group as well as anyone who has any peripheral affiliation with the Lulz. Be assured, those who have been pinched are giving up as many names as possible as well as whatever is on their hard drives, Anon hacker manuals or not. All of these scenarios lead to the conclusion of more arrests by the authorities and even more skiddies getting into legal trouble around the globe. Meanwhile though, if the core group has been smart, then perhaps the leaders will skate for a time, using the masses as canon fodder.

Gee kids.. Did you know that you were all expendable?

On another tac, I would like to speak about the potential of the disinformation campaigns being perpetrated by the authorities as well. Consider that the trained professionals out there who are hunting these characters (Topiary, Sabu, et al.) are also adept at using not only the technologies of the fifth battlespace, but also the training afforded them in ‘spook world’ This means disinformation campaigns, mole hunts, and insurgencies of their own, getting to the inner core of Anonymous and Lulz. Now, that there were six (alleged) lulzer’s it would be more difficult to do, especially if those LulzSec folks really do know one another (as they claim they do not, which, I just don’t buy.. Remember the compartmentalisation issue) The agent provocateur’s are out there I am sure and with each rung of the ladder, they get closer to the core group.

That is unless the core group falls apart on their own and DOX’s each other out. In the end, I am going to suggest that the authorities will use all of the tricks of the trade on the Anon/Lulz folks to bag them… And with concerted effort by government resources, they will get their men/women.

Untrained, Unruly, and Unprofessional Operators:

“Discretion is the better part of valour” as they say, and in the case of the Lulz and Anon crews, they seem to not have a clue. Perhaps the Lulz think that by being unruly and unpredictable to a certain amount, will be just the cover they need, but, I think that their lack of discretion will be their undoing as well as their hubris. Had many of these folks had some real training, they might have just stood down for a while (not just a week or so) after setting sail into the sunset.

As I have said before, it was a bad idea to recruit and have comm’s out in the open on IRC servers even if they had ‘invite only’ channels. As is being seen now, someone (jester perhaps) has taken down their servers again after other outages due to Ryan Cleary’s attack and pressure from the government on those connection sources that the Anon’s were using. I am sure the idea was to have a movement that could also serve as diversion for the core users as well as to LOIC, but this all failed in the end didn’t it? The LOIC is what has given the FBI the 1,000 IP addresses as a hit list, so to speak, that they are now using to collect people and charge them for the DD0S attacks.

Had these people been trained or not been so compulsive, they might have had more of a chance to keep this up for a much much longer time. As I write, the Lulz do continue, but they have slowed quite a bit since the arrests started again. This I think is because the cages are starting to get rattled and people are finally coming to the conclusion that some discretion is needed to not end up Bubba’s play pal in prison. It’s a learning curve, and likely going to be a painful one for the kiddies.

Unprofessional actions within this area of battle will end up with your being put in jail kids.

To end this section I would also like to add this thought. My assessment of the Lulz core group is this;

  • They were drunk on the power of their escapades
  • The more followers they had and more attention, the less risk averse they became
  • They seem to have compulsion disorders (don’t say it.. Aspergers!) that seem to not allow them to lay low (until now it seems)
  • The ego has eaten their id altogether
  • Base ages are within the teens with a couple over 20

Technical Issues Within The Fifth Battlespace:

Another BIG issue within this battlespace is the technology. The Anon’s and Lulz have been ascribing to the idea of “Proxies, we haz them! So we’re secure!” and to a certain extent they are right. There are always ways around that though and certainly leaks in data (such as the TOR leaks that have happened) that could lead someone to locate the end user behind the proxy, so they are not fool proof. Certainly not if the fool in question is some skiddie 12 year old using LOIC un-proxied and not obfuscated while they D0S Paypal.

The problem is that the technology could fail you as well as the untrained operative could make small and large mistakes that could lead authorities right back to their IP and home accts. On the other side of that equation is that when properly done, it is damn hard to prove a lot in hacking cases because of obfuscation, as well as mis-configured end systems that have been hit. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen incidents play out where the target systems had no logging on as well as being completely un-secured, thus leaving practically nothing for a forensics team to find and use.

Once again, this brings us back to the insider threat, whether they be the insider who decides to go turncoat, or, the agent provocateur (i.e. Jester and the Ninja’s as well as others from the authorities) who infiltrate the Lulz and then gut them from the inside. What it really boils all down to is that in the end, it will be the foibles of the Lulz core and the actions of spooks that will bring them down.. And I think they are learning that very fact now.

JIN; One Must Know The Enemies Mind To Be Victorious:

As a last note, I would like to say to the Ninja’s, you need to learn and practice your Kuji-in. It is obvious to me that you have failed on the ‘Jin’ (knowing the opponents mind) with your dox attempts. Until such time as I see people being hauled in that directly relate to your documents posted, then I am going to consider the following to be the case:

  1. DOX-ing is mostly useless and takes quite a bit of analysis before just releasing names
  2. The Feds are not taking your data as gospel, nor should the general public or media
  3. You yourselves may in fact be a tool of Anonymous/Lulz and as such, spewing disinformation
  4. You could be right, but by releasing it to the public at large, you are letting the Lulz know to destroy evidence and create obfuscation that will hinder arrests later.

Ninja’s got results.. Not so much for ‘Web’ Ninjas. At least Jester, if his claims are true, is breaking their C&C channels lately.. Which has its own problematic issues.. Just like his meddling in the Jihadi area, but, that’s a story for another time.

K.

Movie Review: Ninja Assassin

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Ninja Assassin, perhaps a title that is a bit repetitive as a “Ninja” is pretty much always an “Assassin, but, title semantics aside (and play on words as you will see below) I liked this film. So, ith that said up front, lets talk a bit about the actual history of the Ninja, or as they are more properly called “Shinobi no mono” in Japan. The Shinobi were taught these skills in  “Ryu” or schools of martial art forms that rely more on stealth and trickery than the standard forms of the Samurai period. This type of martial study or form is called “Ninjutsu”  and much of its early history surrounded actually being spies for certain Daimyo’s. Some time after this, the ryu’s went underground in the Iga province around 1184.

With the history out of the way, I can now review the film and you may have a better understanding of the Shinobi. Now, I had kind of expected the usual bad ninja movie that I am accustomed to. You may indeed know the style I am talking about, the kind that comes from the likes of “American Ninja” or some of the other chop soki films that have been made over the years for teen boys looking to dose themselves in marital arts without actually walking into a dojo… And well, I did get some of that, but to my surprise there was a bit of a story to the film. Mind you, it was a thin one.. But still a story just the same.

The protagonist of the film is Raizo, a man who as a boy was taken by the ryu sensei and forced to become a ninja. Though Raizo is one of the best students the sensei has a very strict and brutal method to his teaching and abuses Raizo as well as kills a girl he likes. This, as is pretty predictable, makes Raizo hate the sensei, but he feels he cannot escape. That is until one day he attempts to kill the sensei and takes on his whole clan on a rooftop. Raizo escapes and turns the tables on the clan, hunting them as they assassinate people for 100 pounds of gold per hit.

Into this walks an INTERPOL librarian who improbably begins looking into the ninja clans as being a real thing. You see, no one really believes that they are still in business today, but she puts it together that if you are a world leader, and you want a hit carried out, you call the “Black Sand” clan… Oh, yeah, it’s kinda cheese-tastic… But hey, what can I say, I am a classic martial arts movie kind of guy.

Well, one thing leads to another and the hit is on for the INTERPOL librarian, but, Raizo saves her… And makes his stand. A series of improbable fights ensue and much of the mythos surrounding the ninja and their magic are brought to bear here. There are flights of shuriken as well as Kusari-gama scenes that are well choreographed. Much of the blood in these scenes is CG, but the actual fx for the wounds on Raizo and others look really really painful, so good job by the makeup artists.

In the final fight scene you have something akin to Darth Vader fighting Luke Skywalker in pathos, but the way the scene is set in a burning dojo is great. The effect that I liked the most was the slashing blood spatter patterns (CG) on the rice paper panels as the fight progresses. It was like watching a sumi-e painting being created in large swaths of blood on beautiful rice paper squares. It had a certain rough and austere bushido beauty to it.

I was also surprised to note that in the credits this was co written by J. Michael Straczynski who did Babylon 5 back in the day. I always liked the writing on that show if not the CG all of the time.. But back then CG was pretty darn new, so I give em props for what they did have in a weekly television show. I believe that it was Straczynski’s  touches on the writing that made this more than just the usual bad Ninja romp.

Overall, I am glad I did not pay for the film at the theater as todays prices are the suck, however, if you have Netflix do rent it. Just be sure that you don’t eat as you watch, the blood and body parts that fly off of people here are a bit gory.

CoB

Written by Krypt3ia

2010/04/30 at 19:24

Posted in Movie Reviews, Movies, Ninja, Shinobi no mono

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