A ninja (忍者, Japanese pronunciation: [ɲiꜜɲdʑa])
or shinobi (忍び, [ɕinobi])
was a covert agent
in feudal Japan
. The functions of a ninja included espionage
, and surprise attacks. Their covert methods of waging irregular warfare
were deemed dishonorable and beneath the honor of the samurai
. Though shinobi
proper, as specially trained spies and mercenaries, appeared in the 15th century during the Sengoku period
, antecedents may have existed as early as the 12th century.
In the unrest of the Sengoku period, mercenaries and spies for hire became active in Iga Province and the adjacent area around the village of Kōga, and it is from these areas that much of the knowledge regarding the ninja is drawn. Following the unification of Japan under the Tokugawa shogunate in the 17th century, the ninja faded into obscurity. A number of shinobi manuals, often based on Chinese military philosophy, were written in the 17th and 18th centuries, most notably the Bansenshukai (1676).
By the time of the Meiji Restoration (1868), shinobi had become a topic of popular imagination and mystery in Japan. Ninja figured prominently in legend and folklore, where they were associated with legendary abilities such as invisibility, walking on water and control over natural elements. As a consequence, their perception in popular culture is based more on such legends and folklore than on the covert actors of the Sengoku period. (Full article...)
Girlfight is a 2000 American sports drama film written and directed by Karyn Kusama and starring Michelle Rodriguez in both of their film debuts. It follows Diana Guzman, a troubled teenager from Brooklyn who decides to channel her aggression by training to become a boxer, despite the disapproval of both her father and her prospective trainers and competitors in the male-dominated sport.
Kusama wrote the screenplay for Girlfight after learning to box, wanting to make a film about the sport with a female protagonist. Although she struggled to find financiers for the film's $1 million (U.S.) budget, the production was eventually funded by John Sayles, Maggie Renzi and the Independent Film Channel. Rodriguez was cast in the lead role, despite having never acted before, and trained for four months to prepare for the role before filming commenced in New York and New Jersey.
Girlfight premiered on January 22, 2000 at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Grand Jury Prize. It was released theatrically on September 29, 2000 and grossed $1.7 million at the box office. The film was well received by critics, who offered particular praise to Rodriguez for her performance and Kusama for her direction. Both Kusama and Rodriguez received numerous accolades, including two National Board of Review Awards, two Independent Spirit Award nominations, and two Gotham Awards. (Full article...)