I'm not sure what some people expected out of this movie. Was it the high expectations from being directed by James McTeigue (whom also directed the very impressive "V For Vendetta")? Because honestly all you have to do is look at the title, "Ninja Assassin" to realize that perhaps this is not going to be an Academy Award winning film. It's not. In fact its hard to say this film is even 'good' in the general sense of the word. No, I would rather use the phrase 'face crushing and blood gushing awesome' to describe this film.
As a fan of 80s film, its not a shock that I wanted this film to be awesome. For all the ridiculous things that Hollywood has put out in the last decade, a solid Ninja film hasn't been part of that. It's a sad statment. I grew up with Ninja films and to this day when I'm feeling blue will stick in "American Ninja" or "Revenge Of The Ninja" and the world is suddenly better. Well, if you are like me and can enjoy a movie that is not made to be taken seriously then this film will make you laugh and cry all in sheer joy.
As I said though, if you are expecting in depth clever dialogue, a keen sense of the human condition, or, hell, even some sort of legitimate character development than look elsewhere. "Ninja Assassin" is exactly what the title would imply. It's about a Ninja whom assassinates other Ninja from his clan that declared him a traitor (as is whispered multiple times in the film) and how an investigation into these Ninja assassins becomes a full on military campaign to bring down the Black Sand Clan. The movie focuses on our outcast Raizo (played by the ripped pretty boy Rain) and through a shit ton of flashbacks, how he came to be the outcast to his clan and vow to take them down. A second story involving two government agents investigating (somewhat randomly) connections of big political assassinations and a Ninja legend of 9 clans comes head to head with our badass Raizo and all hell breaks loose. Hell is pretty close to what happens too.
The acting is pretty surface (who cares really in this kind of movie) and the dialogue is borderline insane (again who cares), but its the visual style that carries this movie. James McTeigue has a slick style that fits this Ninja premise perfectly and even though the choreography could be stronger I couldn't help but cheer the entire movie. We have camera shots that only make the premise even more ridiculous, I love the rising camera shot above the military squad where you see a shit ton on ninja above them, and the action and pacing of the film is excellent.
As I said, I wish the Martial Arts aspect of the film was a little stronger, but its hard to complain about the intense weapon work in the film. Ninja fling blades left and right, they hurl throwing stars like fucking machine guns, and the gore created from these moments is enough to make a paramedic throw up a little in their mouth. I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt on using CGI gore (there was enough to make it up).
All in all, its hard to say that I didn't love the fuck out of this movie. "Ninja Assassin" was almost everything I could have hoped it would be. Not to mention that this film has the great potential to franchise (hey man, there are 8 other ninja clans out there for Raizo to kick ass at) and I'm a franchise whore. I could only hope that this film starts a new trend of Ninja films in Hollywood again. A man can dream can't he?
Written By Matt Reifschneider