Ninja Assassin

by | Mar 31st, 2010 | 7:00AM | Filed under: DVD Reviews, Movies

Thank god for DVD. Now you can watch Ninja Assassin how it was meant to be seen: fast-forwarding through the dull, talky parts and getting right to the crazy, stars-out ninja-ing and generous, artistic splattering of bright action-flick blood.

[The following is a REPRINT of the redblog review of Ninja Assassin on it's theatrical release last fall. It is now on DVD and available for rent from redbox.]

The title Ninja Assassin pretty much tells you everything you need to know about this movie. For instance, there will be ninjas. Another important point: they will assassinate people. Not just assassinate them, but chop, slice, and dismember them in new and impressive ways. These ninjas assassinate the hell out of people.

You might ask yourself, why hire a ninja assassin? Why not just get a regular old assassin? Well you might as well ask why buy a Bentley instead of a Geo Prizm? Having a ninja kill your enemies is a really high-end, status-symbol way of saying “I hate you so much that instead of just shooting you, I’m having a man in black jammies hack you to pieces. You should be touched that I care so much. You’re welcome.”

Ninja Assassin is an attempt by the producing Brothers Wachowski (The Matrix) and their lapdog director James McTeigue to bring back the ninja movie. They did this by putting “Ninja” right there in the title. Which really makes anything better. Try it—put a little “ninja” in everything and see what happens. Suddenly you don’t have a car, you have a ninja car. You’re not eating a sandwich, you’re eating a ninja sandwich. You’re not stuck watching Old Dogs, you’re watching Old Ninja Dogs! See?

A few years back McTeigue directed V for Vendetta, which, while hit-and-miss, seemed to be a film made by a competent, sentient being. This led many people to speculate that in fact the Wachowski Brothers had directed most of it, instead of McTeigue. Well no more of that scurrilous speculation! Because this time the W. Bros let go of the handle bars and McTeigue did all the directing himself, like a big boy! The resulting film makes it very clear that James McTeigue could not possibly have directed V For Vendetta. Unless he’s spent the four years between these projects receiving daily head injuries.

Ninjaassassinpic10harrisNinja Assassin is about a modern-day ninja played by Korean Pop Star Rain. That is his official name and must be used in its entirety when referring to Korean Pop Star Rain. (It should be noted that Korean Pop Star Rain has a lot of trouble keeping his shirt on–it seems to be going around these days.)

He was once part of a clan of ninja assassins, but despite being the best ninja anyone had ever not seen, Korean Pop Star Rain left the clan when it turned out he really didn’t believe in cold-blooded killing for money. Which is kind of like having a unicorn that hates rainbows. So now he’s a rogue ninja, a lone wolf, a ninja without a clan, a Korean Pop Star without a last name. Or a shirt.

There’s also a Europol crime researcher (Naomie Harris, Tia Dalma from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies) who starts poking around into why infamous or important European folks are turning up dead. She and her boss (Ben Miles, Patrick from the UK Coupling) suspect a ninja infestation—probably because of all the throwing stars left stuck in the victims. However, it turns out ninja assassins are a lot like sullen teenagers—they hate when you talk about them, look at them, or try to tell them anything. All this takes place in Berlin, ‘cause you know… Berlin… totally off-the-hook ninja scene.

Ninjaassassinpic15fightI am concerned with how ninjas from opposite clans tell one another apart in the giant climatic battle between ninjas and Europol troops. After all, with the identical black pajamas and hoods, it’s really like fighting a room full of frogmen. And if you’ve ever had to fight a room full of frogmen, I think you know exactly what I’m talking about. Perhaps in the next big ninja movie the ninjas could all wear something that helps you tell who’s who. Like big white numbers on their pajamas. Or matching Ed Hardy t-shirts.

Anyway, you know those kids you see hanging around the mall or always drawing ninjas in their