Ninja Assassin is a balls to the wall movie that follows a character named Raizo, who just happens to be one of the deadliest assassins in the world. Taken from the streets as a child, he was transformed into a trained killer by the Ozunu Clan. He eventually becomes haunted by the merciless execution of his friend by the Clan, Raizo breaks free from them and vanishes. When (as we learn in flashbacks) he parted company after refusing to kill someone who tried to leave the clan, he became marked for death. He has been pursuing vengeance ever since. The key with a film like this is finding a lead actor who can carry the role with finesse. Rain is no Oscar-worthy talent, but he does have the charisma and presence needed to carry the film. One thing I really want to stress to those who haven’t seen this film yet is do not take it seriously. This movie isn’t over-the-top, it leaps over the top and continues to ascend to the point of pure lunacy, and that’s just within the first 10 minutes.
One thing I heard a lot of people complaining about in the theater was the use of dark light during action scenes. Yes, the dim lighting made it difficult to see what was going on in a few fight scenes; however, this darkness served the purpose of the concept, unlike the shaky cam trend, which is done for no purpose other than to convince you that what is going on in the scene is more interesting than it actually is. I was able to see more action in one of the “dark” scenes in Ninja Assassin than I did in the last two Bourne movies combined. Audiences are getting exactly what they pay for with Ninja Assassin, an unrelentingly violent and over-the-top action film that makes the most out of the fun it can wring out. My only complaint with this aspect was that Ninja Assassin’s script never clearly defines what a ninja is actually capable of at any given moment. There was some supernatural things going on in the movie that had me scratching my head often times.
What we do know is that the ninjas in this film are a force to be reckoned with. True to the myth, they move silently in the shadows. They can also be found clinging to the ceiling like something out of Aliens. And once they arrive, no one is safe. The filmmakers have said that they wanted to update the ninja movie for the 21st century, and there they succeed. After that first kill, none of the action is brought to life with any extended originality. Not to knock the films’ action right after I praised it but therereally is no fun, no fresh new ideas. Torrents of CGI blood and limbs lead to an easy comparison to the films of Ryuhei Kitamura, but the big point of comparison is energy and attitude. Sure, Kitamura’s Versus is an amateurish movie, but it has buckets of ideas and boundless energy, and just a little of each would have made Ninja Assassin infinitely more entertaining.
I mean, the only real reason to make this movie is if you have a notebook full of ideas for shredding the human body. So if you’re in the mood for action supported by a dull plot or stupid characters, Ninja Assassin might make for a bloody good time. I left the movie with my memory of it being largely a big blur. Ninja Assassin is a genre movie with accomplished, impressive fight choreography and visual effects. But the most important thng to remember in all of this is if we learned anything from Indiana Jones, it’s that bullets trump sharp objects every time. It good seeing ninjas getting some love instead of vampires nowadays but this isn’t the movie that is going to propel them into a statewide phenomenom.