Directed by – James McTeigue
Written by – Matthew Sand, J. Michael Straczynski
Starring – Sung Kang, Randall Duk Kim, Ben Miles, Naomie Harris, Rain, Stephen Marcus, Linh Dan Pham, Sho Kosugi, Kylie Goldstein, Yoon Sungwoong, Eleonore Weisgerber, Wladimir Tarasjanz, Joon Lee, Kai Fung Rieck, Anna Sawai, Thorston Manderlay, Richard van Weyden, Rick Yune
As far as action flicks go, this one was pretty good. Let me remind everyone that around here an action flick usually has about as much story as a B-grade horror flick and Ninja Assassin wasn’t much different. I can’t believe that J. Michael Straczynski had anything to do with the story because it stunk. Really, I couldn’t even tell you what half the plot was about. I got the whole story of Raizo (Rain) as he’s brought up by the ninja clan and eventually leaves when he doesn’t agree with their methods. It’s then his mission to bring them to justice, or at least his own personal justice.
The other half of the story is a bunch of crappy secret service garbage that is totally pointless and seems to be there only to provide an endless amount of SWAT with guns for the ninjas to slice and dice. It also provides us with Naomie Harris as Mika who happens to remind Raizo of a girl that he had trained with. That girl ended up on the pointy end of a sword when she tried to escape from the clan and I guess Raizo is making it his business to make sure Mika is safe. She’s gotten herself into trouble by looking into governments hiring ninjas to perform assassinations. Everyone is out to get her and Raizo is there to save her. This leads to an obvious and utterly stupid ending for her.
Thankfully I didn’t come to this one for its intriguing plot. I was only concerned with seeing some ninjas kicking each other in the head. Not only do you get that in extreme amounts but the CG blood is also freely flowing. Sure its the most fake looking blood I’ve seen in a while but when it goes together with watching guys get sliced in half, I can ignore it. There’s plenty of huge action scenes and they’re great fun to watch. Maybe the most technical of sequences since most of the baddies are just spinning around in one spot swinging around CG weapons. I can only imagine filming these scenes.
“Okay guys, stand about ten feet apart and start spinning. That’s it, swing your arms around some more. Now jump up and down. Okay, wow, look out, he’s swinging his knife on a chain at you, dodge left, dodge right annnnnnnd cut.”
There are some good hand to hand scenes but they are very small compared to the amount of sword swinging action. That leads to lots of lost limbs, mostly on the part of the SWAT guys but I’m not complaining.
While I was grateful for the action, the story was so boring that the 99 minute running time felt like hours. Anytime someone opened their mouth my brain clouded over. I couldn’t care less about anyone in the movie and just wanted them to shut-up. The history of Raizo is also told in an endless amount of flashback scenes. They probably could’ve just made a movie about a kid who grows up with the ninjas and then decides to destroy them when they kill his first love. I’m not sure if that would’ve made a more interesting story but maybe it would’ve saved me from watching flashback after flashback. Not to mention every flashback is triggered by some current situation so every 10 minutes Raizo gets this long distance stare going when he hears a certain noise or someone asks him a question and we get treated to a bit more of his backstory.
This one was a big toss-up. I loved the action and hated the story. That means I spend 10 minutes hating my life and then 10 minutes loving it in a continuous cycle for an hour and a half. At least the filmmakers are smart enough to start with one of the more bloody action scenes and not a useless scene of dialogue or they would have lost me right off the bat. Instead I spent 10 minutes getting sucked in before I realized just how bad the plot would be. Probably a good rainy afternoon flick for someone looking to fill a ninja lust in them that the newest drama flick can’t hope to fulfill.
Under the marquee – Will