I was really excited to see this movie. Some cool ninja on ninja action and nonstop impossible martial arts nonsense. I was so there. Well, I was there. I wish the movie had come with me. I wish I had seen the movie in my head that I had pieced together from the trailer. I would have been far more entertained and it would have been cheaper.
The more I think about it, the less I liked this movie. It’s not that my expectations were unrealistically high. It’s not like it was Clint Eastwood directing. It was, however, the team that did V for Vendetta and one of the screenwriters was the writer who created Babylon 5. Seriously, what happened? Too many cooks? Studio meddling? The world may never know.
Betrayal, revenge, a secret society of ancient assassins, cool! It sounds awesome. Instead, we get a mess. It’s not like it’s a convoluted mess. The script makes sense, it just never grabs you. Or even really interests you. So you have blood soaked boredom.
By the way, the title, Ninja Assassin, kind of redundant. Technically the Ninja is an assassin, so that’s like calling your movie Cowboy Gunfighter. Still not as stupid a title as Larry The Cable Guy: Health Inspector, though. If he’s the health inspector, why is he still the cable guy? God, that guy is so horrible. Anyhoo, back to the Ninjas.
Korean music sensation Rain (you know he’s cool, he only has one name) plays Raizo who turns his back on his Ninja clan after what they did to his girlfriend, and well, does it matter? Let’s just say nothing will surprise you with the setup here. I will say, damn, that Rain must workout every fifteen minutes. The guy is in shape. It’s not like you won’t notice. He’s shirtless for most of the movie. Something for the ladies.
The one thing that surprised me a bit was the amount of blood and guts in this movie. It really is excessive and doesn’t feel stylized or add anything to the film. It’s just messy and it’s mostly CGI blood so it even looks a little goofy. This may be the effect, excessive Robocop violence but I think it’s much simpler and dumber than that. Like someone had a bet too see how much blood they could get past the MPAA and still get an R rating.
There are some cool martial arts sequences and some cool ninja action. No doubt. But ultimately, the sum is way less that its parts. A lot of the action is shot in shaky close-up which is infuriating, like the Bourne movies. Hey, action movie directors: let me see the fucking action! It’s not enough to SAY you have ninjas in your movie. They have to do more ninja stuff. There was an early fight scene in a Laundromat that lasted for about two seconds. I was thinking this is going to be cool. They we cut away, and it’s over. WTF?! Show me the Ninja!
Later the movie does ramp up and get big and we do get some cool ninja action along with the Ninjas being investigated by that guy from Coupling, but there was never those really epic martial arts battles where you get to see the punches, kicks, swords, and flying daggers really mix it up. Silly plotting and not one new idea in the whole movie make the whole enterprise disappointing. The bottom line is, I wanted more. I expected more. What pisses me off is this will be the reverse effect of Paranormal Activity. Cool indie does good, we may see some more smart horror movies in the future. I want to see more cool, stylized, martial arts action movies. Ninja Assassin just made it harder for the genre type revival (Westerns) we had a few years ago.
So there is some good stuff in here, but you need a fast forward button to get to it. Or maybe even a camera pull out, slow down, show me the action button. Someone please make one so I can at least enjoy the DVD.