The First Live-Action Video Game Movie Is Actually Awesome, See For Yourself

By April Ryder | Published

If you love live-action video game adaptations, then you have to take the time to check out the very first one. Released at the Tokyo International Fantastic Film Festival in 1988, Mirai Ninja or Cyber Ninja (in the United States) opened the door for progression in a realm that has become a popular interest for many moviegoers today. 

Based On The Namco Arcade Game

The world may never have had the live-action Super Mario Bros. movie of the ’90s, the Mortal Kombat movies, or the Resident Evil flicks if Mirai Ninja never hit the screen. Of course, it was a direct-to-video release, so there was no theater time for this Namco-backed B-movie. 

Low-Budget Ninja Action

Directed by renowned visual artist Keita Amemiya, Mirai Ninja is a low-budget, wacky action flick about a future time where war is being waged between humans and cyborgs. An elite enemy cyber ninja who wishes to take back his humanity defects and sets out to help the royal family save their princess from becoming a cyborg sacrifice. 

Save The Princess

The human resistance army sends in a small band of soldiers to assist, and one of them is a young soldier with a mission to avenge his brother’s death at the hands of the robots. After many battles and losses in the fight to reach the enemy castle, the movie reveals that the defective cyber ninja is the remnants of the young soldier’s dead brother. 

The main mission now is to get to the castle and rescue the princess before the resistance army takes matters into their own hands, firing a super cannon at the target. Blowing the place up is the only way to ensure the cyborgs can’t move forward with their evil plans.

Low-Budget Only Adds To The Charm

The low budget of Mirai Ninja didn’t dissuade Keita Amemiya from injecting his own flavor into the movie’s final mix. The film is silly with the nostalgic DIY quality of movies like Evil Dead and El Mariachi. Nevertheless, Amemiya was committed to telling the story and making it fun to watch. 

The acting performances may be a bit on the absurd side, but they were genuine. The sword-fighting in Mirai Ninja was much better than one might expect and well-choreographed. You also get quality laser light shows and explosions added to the mix during a fight to boost the excitement. 

Amazing Combination Of Everything Nerds Love

Mirai Ninja has a pinch of Full Metal Alchemist, mixed with the Power Rangers (live-action flick of the ‘90s) and Star Wars. If you want nostalgia and pure, unadulterated childhood delight, this movie will not let you down. 

However, it won no awards for technical quality or dramatic impact. One critic openly wrote that Mirai Ninja “does not reach the level of Star Wars as promised by promotional materials,” but does ANY movie really reach the level of Star Wars? That’s a high bar to set for the very first live-action game adaptation. 

One fan spoke of Mirai Ninja, saying that the movie “has a story, it tells it in 75 minutes, there’s violence, and robots, and demons, and then it ends.”