Bullet Points: Ninja Assassin
There can never be enough movies about ninjas. I wouldn’t be an honest man if I didn’t at least acknowledge that I wasn’t lining up at the theater to see Ninja Assassin when it first came out. It was starring some pop star named “RAIN” who had no martial arts experience before getting the part but who looked like he could easily be walking the runway at another fashion show that most people couldn’t give two shits about. The more I hated on the fact that this newest ninja movie was starring this man the more my own hypocrisy started to show itself.
In case you haven’t noticed yet, the same things I hated (unwarranted, I must say) about Ninja Assassin could also be said about one of my most beloved movies, American Ninja. I was prejudging this new movie so harshly because I’m an idiot sometimes and forget to actually watch a movie before I start trashing. I also read things on the internet so I know I’m not the only one who does this so let me be the next person to tell you that before you start crapping all over a movie because of a poster or a bad teaser trailer, watch the damned thing first!
Synopsis: A ninja, trained from a young age to kill whosoever his clan master tells him, rebels from the clan and joins a Europol agent who is investigating the connection between the secret clan and the assassinations.
- There Will Be Blood: Early on in the film we’re immediately shown that there will be no budget restrictions when it comes to CGI brutality. Of course, it would always be nice to see more practical effects but it’s not easy to slice a dude’s head off or fling 30 ninja stars at a man without turning him into a kitchen strainer. The amount of blood is a bit ridiculous at times but that is like saying that Pam Anderson’s boobs were too big in Barb Wire. Blasphemy!
- Men in Black: We’re slowly introduced to Raizo (Rain) and how messed up his past is…or was…er, whatever. Everyone knows that orphans make the best assassins so Raizo and bunch of other kids are taken under the wing of the Ozunu (played by the legendary Sho Kosugi) and taught to be total emotionless assholes and killers. Raizo makes a little rivalry with another guy, the Storm Shadow to his Snake Eyes, and falls for a rebellious girl who had no chance of surviving. Being a ninja is tough!
- Supernatural Ninjas: Ninja Assassin isn’t just a bunch of guys wearing black because it’s stylish or sliming. They are essentially a big group of wizards running around with sharp blades. They shuffle around in the shadows, do some creepy whispering gimmick, and move faster than any human has any right to. Raizo is seen almost constantly training, so you could almost believe that he would be a total badass. He trains so much that he doesn’t have much of a character outside of swinging his blade on a chain dealio.
- Traffic Jam: I always thought that ninjas wanted to stay hidden but not these guys! They chase Raizo down a busy freeways, swinging their swords and leaping over moving cars as he bleeds his way about half a mile down the interstate. Imagine driving down the road and watching a bunch of ninjas trying to kill a half naked man.
- Evil Ninja Dudes: There aren’t many good ninjas running around but there is no shortage of evil, no-good ninjas. These guys will kill anyone for the right amount. Raizo is apparently the only one that isn’t a bad guy so he pretty much goes mano-a-everybody against the clan once he runs off. We don’t get much depth to the clan itself or to Sho Kosugi’s Ozunu. He yells at kids, punishes them, forces them to kill each other; he would make a shitty foster dad.
- Flaming Ninjas: Raizo and his Europol friends show up at the mountain fortress of the ninjas with guns a blazin’. At this point in the film, Raizo has sustained at least 48 different wounds and lost enough blood to fill that lobby in The Shining, but he somehow uses his magic ninja skills to not die at any moment. He faces off with his old rival, whose name I don’t even remember, and finally stares down Ozunu himself in what I had hoped would be a much cooler scene. His Europol buddies get sliced to bits outside but the amount of ninjas that die in the finale has got to be one of the deadliest days in the history of the art.
Use all your ninja magic to check out these Bonus Bullet Points:
- They spend way too much time with the Europol fellas without a good payoff or real compelling character. If it’s conspiracy assassinations vs ninja fighting, I’ll choose ninja fighting any day of the week.
- How rare is it to have your heart on the other side of your body? It’s called Dextrocardia situs inversus and it occurs in less than 1 in 10,000.
- Doing laundry is dangerous when you’re a ninja.
- One of the characters comments that Raizo looks like he should be in a boy band. He was in one called Fanclub. I was in one called Phor… I’m challenging him to a sing-off!