Starring: Rain, Sung Kang, Randall Duk kim, Naomie Harris
Director: James McTeigue
Writer(s): Matthew Sand, J. Michael Straczynski
Cinematography: Karl Walter Lindenlaub
Original Score: Llan Eshkeri
Running Time: 99 Mins.
Think of Ninja Assassin as the ninja equivalent of 300, chock full of comic book stylised action with geysers of CGI blood flowing freely left, right and centre, a plot that flashes back to training warriors from a young age in the most brutal way possible, with plot, characterisation and emotional heft no deeper than a puddle, like the sound of that, in that case Ninja Assassin might just hold enough to keep you interested. The problem is it is hard to tell if this was the intention of the film-makers, were they going for the computer game/comic book look they have pretty much hit the jack-pot , however on any other level mark Ninja Assassin down as a big fat F.
Plot is of little consequence here, revenge is the order of the day (surprise, surprise) and our titular ninja is the one meeting it out to all the other faceless ninja’s he can, with the ultimate goal of killing his “father/mentor”, and all round badass. in the name of long-lost love. clichéd much, hell yeah! But Ninja Assassin surely is not about the plot, fight scenes interspersed with some of the worst detective work seen this side of Inspector Clouseau make that abundantly clear, with Naomie Harris and partner as possibly the worst and most inept pair of Agent’s ever seen.
The fight scenes are what Ninja Assassin is all about and boy are they bloody, in a totally unrealistic and CGI smattering way, when I tell you that the key weapons include throwing stars, samurai swords and, most OTT of all, a throwing knife attached to a rather long chain you will get some idea of where this over choreographed mess is placing itself in the roster of ninja films. In fact come to think of it, based on the evidence of this, it is little wonder there aren’t more seeing as the plot needs to be that of the annoyingly hackneyed “revenge on your evil mentor against all odds” one!
The biggest, and let’s be honest the only, surprise Ninja Assassin holds is that it is directed by James McTeigue who guided V for Vendetta to such a wonderful adaptation, itself taken from a graphic novel and followed a similar revenge tale interspersed with a police investigation, but made that seem original and most of all solidly made, cast exceptionally well and featuring some truly memorable images. Sadly they are all elements missing here.on the plus side star Rain does have a noble presence, but with nothing of substance to work with he fails to stand out other than in the overly dark action sequences. It is only in the last fight a little originality shines through and by then it is just too late.
It Ninja Assassin was aiming for the comic book/computer game look it succeeds, simply put it is an awful film papered over with a ridiculous budget, sadly it is true what they say, you can’t polish a turd. Then again if if CGI gore is your thing…