Do you have an infinite amount of shuriken at your disposal? Do you hide in dark shadows and send envelopes full of black sand to unsuspecting victims? Have a ten-foot long chain with a curved dagger at the end that you use to cut down Yakuza, and that stalker that just won’t leave you alone?
Okay. So maybe you only hide in the shadows. Creeper. Joking aside, all these facets are the normal activities of the Ozunu clan in “Ninja Assassin.” In this head-flying, blood-splattering adventure set in modern-day Berlin, you get more than you could ever ask for, with director James McTeigue pulling no punches from the first slice of an Ozunu katana to the last gunshot of an automatic machine gun.
The plot of “Ninja Assassin” goes something like this: “Raizo (Rain), one of the deadliest assassins in the world, is taken from the streets as a child, and transformed into a trained killer by the Ozunu Clan, a secret society whose very existence is considered a myth. But haunted by the merciless execution of his friend by the Clan, Raizo breaks free from them and vanishes. Now he waits, preparing to exact his revenge,” (Jessica Barnes, “Cinematical Movie Blog”).
Rain, a newcomer to American cinema, is a professional dancer and pop star from Japan. One might think, “Pop star? Like The Backstreet Boys?” Basically. But for all you cynical readers out there, this does not detract from the film. Not only does Rain pull off the persona of a deadly assassin bent on revenge, but he does it flawlessly…and without busting into song (everyone just had a mental image of a ninja singing “Bye Bye Bye” while doing crazy Eddie Gordo Tekken moves on a foray of hooded assassins). Imagine “Shoot ‘em Up” (starring Clive Owen), but with swords. I’m warning all of you now… this film is not for children. The only other time there has been as much blood and missing limbs was in “Kill Bill.” But if you loved both of the aforementioned films, then you’ll go crazy for “Ninja Assassin.”
However, “Ninja Assassin” is not without fault. There are definitely moments where McTeigue could have focused more on the drama aspect of the film, specifically the “best friend” plotline that is rushed through, but used as the catalyst for, the “revenge” theme of the film. The relationships between some of the characters throughout “Ninja Assassin” were almost too instantaneous at times. Although this minor issue might only frustrate the pickiest of audience members, it is an aspect of film that should have been addressed.
In the end, it cannot be denied that “Ninja Assassin” is by far one of the most amazing films in terms of visual effects, with incredible choreography and smart use of blood and blade. This film is worth being seen once, if not twice. But whether you see it in theaters, or on DVD, “Ninja Assassin” is a thoroughly enjoyable treat for anyone who doesn’t get queasy easily. Hopefully when the Director’s Cut special edition DVD of “Ninja Assassin” comes out, it will come with a deleted scene of Rain singing and dancing while slaughtering hordes of Ninjas.
With all its fancy blade work, action-packed martial arts scenes and good spacing between the insane sword fights and the development of character in Rain and the Ozunu clan, “Ninja Assassin” kills the competition with an “8/10.”