It depresses me quite a bit when I read reviews for films like Ninja Assassin. It of course comes out with some overly terrible reviews (26% on Rotten Tomatoes and 34% on Metacritic). Mostly because critics don’t get flicks like Ninja Assassin. No one going in to making this movie wanted to make the next Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Speed. They wanted to make the next American Ninja.
And they did a pretty good job.
I was unsure going in if a film starring Korean pop star Rain (Speed Racer) could be that good. But he does a superb job of playing Raizo, the super-cool good guy with the dark past. Naomie Harris (28 Days Later, Pirates of the Caribbean 2 & 3) plays the agent that stumbles upon the true nature of ninjas in the modern world. This draws the attention of a secret society of killing machines. Ninja come to eliminate her, but a former member of their clan comes to her rescue.
Raizo must do his best to protect her while continuing his one man war against the clan that gave him the abilities he uses to destroy them. These include shadow-walking, super-speed movement, mystic healing, and of course, some real B.A. fighting moves.
The plot isn’t overly substantial, but it does a good job of setting up the movement from one fight scene to another. The flashbacks that fill much of the film’s first act also tend towards tedium, but once the film moves past them the action heats up.
And the action is amazing. Though they often scar it with an obsessive need to throw in CGI blood everywhere, the film still gives you some of the best weapon-based fighting I’ve seen in awhile. And the heavy use of the manriki-gusari brings back fond memories of my days playing TMNT & Other Strangeness as a youngster. It is just an awesome weapon and used to perfection in this film.
So here’s my final take on Ninja Assassin.If you like action, you will like this film. If you like ninjas, you will love this film. If you like either, give it a chance. Recommended.