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Ninja Assassin (2009)

DVD Cover (Warner Brother)
Genres:
Action, Action Thriller, Martial Arts
Director:
James McTeigue James McTeigue
Starring:
Rain Rain
Joon Lee Joon Lee
Jonathan Chan-Pensley Jonathan Chan-Pensley
Ill-Young Kim Ill-Young Kim
Yuki Iwamoto Yuki Iwamoto

5.9 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Ninja Assassin follows Raizo, 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, a secret society whose very existence is considered a myth. But haunted by the merciless execution of his friend by the Clan, Raizo breaks free from them and vanishes. Now he waits, preparing to exact his revenge. --TMDb
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Review by Ginose
Added: December 07, 2009
I can safely say that I was not excited about, or, in fact, anticipating, seeing this latest Wachowski-fueled CGI cartoon "Ninja Assassin". It looked like a hilariously obtuse homage to a genre I, and, apparently, everyone involved in the project, hold dear that would spoil itself by being as over-budgeted as it was badly written.

To my disdain/pleasure, I was only half right.

This film revolves around ninjas. Yup. Ninjas. It opens with a downright hilarious assassination of some piss-ant up and coming Yakuza-group (that had me laughing more than damn near anything in the movie: Who would pay 100 pounds of gold to kill those clowns? You could have paid any five hit-men a quarter of that and had it done) and goes on to an Interpol researcher who has discovered traces linking that particular murder with a series of similar ones, stating, of course, ninjas are responsible. No one believes her, of course, and, when the ninjas find out, they decide she knows too much and decide to kill her as well. Insult to injury? Anyway, there is a rogue ninja, named Raizo, who decides to save her and use her to help him track-down his old clan.

There's a lot of unneeded exposition, explaining his reasons, but, in truth, the story is SO FUCKING UNCOMPELLING that I wondered why they put it there at all. I mean, they half-assed every other aspect of 70s/80s ninja-flicks, I only could hope they wouldn't have tried to craft any REAL ridiculous story to the motives... but, they did, and I'd be glad about that if it weren't so irrelevant. Nothing in the film has anywhere NEAR the feel they were going for, except for the plot.

Way to go, fellas. One hit and thirty strikes is a better score than I expected form this one.

People who know of my particular tastes in film would say: "Duuurrrrrr... but, Rob, you love dem 70s/80s/(and if they're really thick)90s cheesy martial-arts films that gots all dem ninjers and gore. How could you not want to see this?"

Well, first of all, I'd slap them for calling anything in the Wachowskiverse "martial-arts", and then I'd go on to explain that in order for a cheesy, gory, ninja-filled, b-budget martial art film to work, it has to be EXACTLY that. See, first and foremost, this movie was WAY too expensive to successfully capture that wonderful b-movie feel that goes hand-in-hand with this genre, so I don't really know why they wanted to try so hard. It's not like you can't have good big-budget martial-arts films, you just can't have good campy ones, without the sense of parody it would need, that is.

There's the biggest flaw I found in this one: as stupid and over-the-top as they were undoubtedly TRYING to be, the whole film STILL tried to take itself so fucking seriously that it became more and more annoying all throughout. There's nothing I can't stand m ore than a campy movie taking itself seriously. I truly can't even begin to understand why they'd do such a thing; the action, dialogue, acting, plot, all of it is just so ridiculously cliché (and rightly so) that there's no way that's not what they were going for, and yet every moment tries so hard to make it feel like a serious "V for Vendetta" affair, and that's just not what it was! That's just not what it could be! I'm all for paying respect/homage to the genres that deserve it, and ninja-films are undoubtedly one of those, but I cannot stand idly by and let big-budget eye-candy walk all over them and not even notice how bad they fucked up. For fuck's sake, Shô Kosugi stars as the fucking villain! The man is a fucking idol of the genre work and here he plays that best evil-ninja stereotype there is, but it just doesn't fit here. When Shô Kosugi can't play a good ninja in your ninja movie, then that should be a clear fucking indicator that something is wrong.

However, on the technical front of things, the movie is fine. It looks fantastic, CGI or not, the gore looks damned great and the action is spectacularly choreographed. Rain (an actor who I am VERY steadily beginning to find myself more and more attached) does remarkably well as the leading-man (though, again, the overall unneeded seriousness of the movie bleeds into his performance as well, but, so what, right? I mean, all he has to do is perform acrobatics and kill people in the film, his performance can be as serious, or otherwise, as it likes and we'd still have the status quo.

The action was a great time, as well. Plenty of amusing fights, but no real martial-arts to speak of; as much as I love all of the bullet-time "Matrix" fight-scenes that fill the market in this day-and-age (I don't), they still made for good, entertaining fight-sequences with lots of action filling the gaps of absolute nothingness the film consists of. The weapons doing massively more damage than humanly possible, the ninjas that WEREN'T Raizo dropping like flies in his wake, and the overly-elaborate stunts that filled this one made for plenty of fun stupidity. But, truthfully, that's all.

So, in the end, I can't say I hated it, I can just say that it's a very hollow film that doesn't even succeed at what it was trying to be. Still, it's amusing enough if you just shut your brain off (or get drunk) and enjoy the pretty CG gore.

4.5/10.
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The Red Clover #1: The Red Clover - added 03/01/2010, 04:48 PM
I was praying this movie was going to be better then what I heard it was. I mean, c'mon.. ninjas and fantastic CGI gore? But then I heard they'd slipped a plot into the movie and I was like, "Well fuck.. Nevermind then."
Lucid Dreams #2: Lucid Dreams - added 03/29/2010, 03:06 PM
It started out pretty good, but it started failing around the middle for me. 5/10
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