I love action movies. They are the genre I go to when I need a pick-me up; just add a ninja and some martial arts to my action movie and I’m in heaven. Martial arts get a lot of love in the action genre, but there are only a handful of decent ninja movies. So I was very excited to see a film like NINJA ASSASSIN get made because the trailers made me think the movie was going to sway to the extreme cheesy side or be a really decent ride. Thankfully, director James McTeigue was able to give us a fun, updated ninja movie with only a minor cheese factor.
Raizo (played by Korean pop star Rain) is an orphan who is recruited into the Ozunu clan and trained to be a ninja. After one of his first kills he turns against the clan and his old master and teams up with a Europol investigator (Harris) who is also tracking the ninja activity in the area. The story follows the two on his mission for revenge and her quest for answers.
The story is the weakest link in this film as it has been done before. Had it not been for the intense action sequences and updated technology it would have been straight out of the 1980′s. That being said, it was interesting enough to keep the attention but that was due in large part because of the flashbacks of ninja training that were interspersed through the story. Although there was no actual “training montage” in the film, there was ninja sparring sequences that were quite enjoyable to watch. Had these not been included, the movie would have dragged on, plus the audience got to see a progression of Raizo’s character and why he turned against his clan. As stated, this was the weakest part of the movie and better dialogue throughout would have done wonders.
Another problem was the extreme use of “blood squirtage” (I’m sure there’s a more technical term for this but you know what I mean). In a ninja movie there is a prerequisite amount of blood that needs to be spilled for the film to be believable. Unfortunately, NINJA ASSASSIN took this a little too far and there were many scenes that were a little much and unnecessarily gratuitous. True, there is a lot blood released when there is a decapitation, however, I don’t need to see all of it unless it adds to the story.
Overall, I really enjoyed this film and was pleasantly surprised at how a pop star could pull off such a role. I was quite impressed at how Rain was so believable as an assassin and wonder if he could maybe give some American pop stars a course on how to have a successful crossover career. This movie was a lot of fun and worth the viewing if you enjoy some great weapon handling, have an affinity for ninjas and can stomach a serious amount of blood.
Video:I’m always worried when I sit down to watch a movie that’s primarily filmed at night as black levels are the easiest aspect of a transfer to mess up. But I’m happy to say that Warner Brothers did a fine job here and the video looked beautiful.
Audio:Where the video excelled, the audio took it to a new level. The audio sounded magnificent and really made the film come alive.
Deleted Scenes (7:42): These were more along the lines of extended sequences and really didn’t add anything extra to the film or storyline. There is a little bit more information in the story of Naomie Harris’ character and the Europol investigation but nothing special.
The Myth and Legend of Ninjas (18:55): This is a short featurette about the history of ninjas and how they are a part of our culture today. It’s actually pretty interesting and worth a watch but it does have a lot of film clips. A nice little history lesson with some neat action sequences.
The Extreme Sport of Ninja (10:07): Cast and crew interviews mixed in with movie clips. Entertaining to watch just because you get to see a lot of fighting and behind the scenes training. It’s short but action-packed.
Training Rain (9:52): The audience gets to watch all the training and physical regimens they put Korean pop star Rain through. I find this guy fascinating and thought he did a great job in this film so this featurette was very intriguing and an excellent watch.
Plus a look at the new CLASH OF THE TITANS