There was a time when this writer tried valiantly to keep up with Japanese director Takashi Miike's output, but considering the guy seems to make a new movie every month, it was an impossible task. The director, who moves easily between genres, from grim and bloody yakuza pics to period fare (his kind of dull "Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai" played Cannes this spring), delivered "Ninja Kids!!!" earlier this year. Based on the manga by Rakudai Ninja Rantaro which itself was spun into an anime TV series, the film features plenty of Miike's visual flourish in a tale about an eight year-old boy who enrolls in a ninja academy. So yeah, pretty easy to see why Hollywood wants to take that premise and give it an Americanized spin, but let's hope the ambitions are a bit higher than the last ninja franchise for kids "3 Ninjas." The film has been making the festival rounds including appearances at Fantasia and the New York Asian Film Festival where interest was drummed up and negotiations are apparently well underway with a production company to make this happen.
Meanwhile, is Hollywood falling back in love with "The Grudge" director Takashi Shimizu? Just yesterday we noted that that America's love for J-horror had waned since the early aughts but not if Well Go USA has anything to say about it. The distributor has picked up the U.S. rights to two new Shimuzu films, "Tormented" (aka "Rabbit Horror 3D" which was lensed by Christopher Doyle) and "The Shock Labyrinth" (also in 3D). The former, which premieres at Venice and will play Sitges Film Festival in October follows a young boy whose stuffed rabbit comes to life while his family fall apart and, oh yeah, his sister might be dead. As for the latter film, it concerns a bunch of teenagers who get caught up in a spooky hospital. Can't say either of these particularly excite us, but we have to admit, we are kind of curious to see what Doyle did on that rabbit movie.
No word yet on a release date, but probably 2012 for both of these.